Without fire, trees become more susceptible to it

Historically, fires frequently burned Southern Appalachian forests. Many tree species evolved traits that aided survival in this fire environment. However, with the exclusion of fire from these forests for many decades, new research suggests traits that once made trees resistant to fire may now make them more susceptible to it. USDA Forest Service scientists Melanie…  More 

Northern red oak: a contender or a member?

Northern red oak in the Appalachians Grows to be stately at high elevations But is there regen? And what makes it thrive? Harvest makes light to keep it alive But fire suppression helps mesophytes reign A little control may help red oak sustain Site treatment with fire and some herbicide May help each species to…  More 

Top ten of 2021

We hope you enjoy this collection of the most popular CompassLive stories of 2021. Each article highlights the people, partnerships, and natural wonders of the South. For the past century, USDA Forest Service research has contributed to healthier, more sustainable southern forests.   ______________________ One acorn, two acorns, three acorns, four… How to evaluate acorn crops  Every year, state wildlife…  More 

One Acorn, Two Acorns, Three Acorns, Four…

By lying on your back under an oak tree, you can look up and estimate its number of acorns. But why? “A lot of state wildlife agencies do acorn surveys annually because hunters want to know crop sizes, which fluctuate like crazy from year to year, among different oak species, and among locations,” says USDA…  More 

Which Comes First, the Acorn or the Tree?

Acorns feed birds, bears, deer, and many small mammals. But the big oak trees that produce those acorns are also harvested to become timber. In managing hardwood forests, there’s a potential trade-off between harvesting oak trees for their valuable wood and reducing the number of oak trees left to produce acorns. To help determine a…  More 

Managing Oak-Pine Stands

About half of southern forests are a mix of oaks and pines growing side by side. In the past, getting rid of either the oaks or the pines had been a common management goal. “Pine plantations – stands with no oaks – have become one of the most recognizable symbols of forest management,” says John…  More 

Silviculture for Open Forests

Grassy oak savannas and sunny pine woodlands were once a common sight across the eastern U.S. These open forests have fewer large trees in the overstory and a bounty of native grasses and flowering plants in the understory. Frequent fire limited tree regrowth and created the open canopy. USDA Forest Service scientist Don Bragg and…  More 

Group Selection Harvest for White Oak Regeneration

Oaks are keystone species in forests across the eastern U.S. However, oak reproduction has been declining since at least the 1970s — old oaks still dominate the overstory, but a younger generation is not coming in behind. White oak, in particular, is valuable to wildlife and wood-dependent industries such as barrel, furniture, and cabinet making.…  More 

Working Together Towards Chestnut Restoration

On November 3, about forty people from the USDA Forest Service and The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) gathered virtually. It was the second biennial plan of work meeting between TACF and SRS. Since the 1990s, the two organizations have worked together on American chestnut (Castanea dentata) restoration. In 2017 and in 2019, they committed to…  More 

The Quest to Sustain White Oak Under Fire

White oak (Quercus alba) is an incredibly important species, anchoring ecosystems and economies. Current demand for white oak is surging due to its use in making barrels to support a growing spirits industry. Thus, there’s a real need understand the best tools to promote and sustain white oak in forests to support both economic and…  More