Hardwood-Cypress Swamps, Unlikely Fire Hazards

In parts of the southeastern U.S., one unlikely forest type has great potential for extreme fire behavior: hardwood-cypress swamps. These shallow wetlands can work with their more frequently burned neighbors, pine flatwoods, to wreak havoc by easily igniting and sustaining tremendous wildfires, thus depleting carbon storage in these forests. Hardwood-cypress swamps and pine flatwoods are…  More 

Insights from the 2016 Southern Appalachian Wildfires

Depending on their timing and location, fires can destroy or restore, with little gray area in between. In the early fall of 2016, one specific fire event in Southern Appalachia was unlike any other in recent decades, leaving behind unprecedented devastation once the fire had ceased. From this disastrous fire season comes a recent report…  More 

Bees of Longleaf Pine Forests

Old-growth, or primary forests, are classified as having very little human disturbance — and thus they provide a unique opportunity to study life in relatively unchanged settings. Previous research suggests that these ecosystems may provide critical habitat for sensitive species that are absent or rare in other places. However, past studies comparing bee biodiversity in…  More 

Timing Prescribed Fire to Maximize Longleaf Pine Growth

Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) needs fire to thrive. But if seedlings burn too late in the growing season, they may not have enough energy to re-grow their scorched leaves and replenish their starch reserves before spring of the next year. “When seedlings are so short that a prescribed fire is likely to scorch all of…  More 

Silviculture to Restore Southern Fire-Adapted Pines

Native, mature southern pine ecosystems are dwindling on the landscape, and the plants and animals that depend upon them are in trouble as well. “Living and working in Arkansas, I sometimes forget that shortleaf pine as far as the eye can see is uncommon outside of this area,” says USDA Forest Service scientist Jim Guldin.…  More 

Assessing the Health of U.S. Forests

Forests are complex ecosystems. They are constantly changing as a result of tree growth, variations in weather and climate, and disturbances from fire, pathogens, and other stressors. The USDA Forest Service Forest Health Monitoring (FHM) program tracks these ongoing changes — every year, across the nation — as a forest health check up. The 2018…  More 

Firesetting Arrests Reduce Future Intentional Fires

New research by the USDA Forest Service explores how law enforcement efforts might impact future incidents of arson. “We found very little documented research on whether arrests, as a distinct measure of law enforcement efforts, are linked to reductions in the occurrence of intentional fires or whether such efforts have broader impacts across space and…  More 

Translating National Forest Policies to Local Forest Management

The USDA Forest Service operates at the national, regional, and local levels and must account for a variety of constraints and considerations across its range. Therefore, national-level priorities may not always translate into local-scale management actions. One example of a Forest Service, National Forest System priority area is carbon sequestration. Carbon sequestration is the process…  More 

Predicting Fire Behavior with New 3D Fuel Models

Land managers have a new tool in their firefighting arsenals that models forest fuels in three dimensions. These 3D fuel models developed by the USDA Forest Service have the potential to make firefighting and the management of controlled burns safer and less costly while helping to protect valuable natural resources. The 3D fuels modeling technique…  More 

Weather Conditions Inform Timing of Prescribed Fire

Prescribed fires generate smoke, which can harm human health – especially in areas where humans and forests are close together. “Weather conditions are critical for prescribed fire, especially the effects of wind and humidity on smoke plume formation,” says Yongqiang Liu, USDA Forest Service research meteorologist. Liu is the lead author of a modeling study…  More