Site Prep Tractors and Their Potential for Prescribed Fire

Site preparation (site prep) tractors are large-wheeled machines with mulcher head attachments. These machines can turn shrubs and small trees into wood chips and chunks. They are often used to control vegetation before a prescribed fire, improve wildlife habitat, or as a replacement for fire where the risk is too high. If site prep tractors…  More 

Water Supply from Southern State and Private Forest Lands

Forests provide the most stable and highest quality water supplies among all land uses. A report by the Southern Research Station of the USDA Forest Service quantifies the role of state and private forest lands (SPF) in providing drinking water supply across the southern United States. About half of the South’s land area is forested,…  More 

Dams & Crayfish Genetics

In Alabama, crayfishes are being separated and genetically changed, which increases the risk of local extinction. This work is not done by a mad scientist, but by dams with their reservoirs and unnatural pools of water. A novel study published in the journal Freshwater Biology by USDA Forest Service scientists Zanethia Barnett and Susan Adams,…  More 

Two New Species of Crayfish Discovered in Alabama and Mississippi

In 2011, a group of researchers traveled to southern Alabama and Mississippi in search of the Rusty Gravedigger crayfish (Lacunicambarus miltus). They wanted to refine the species’ range and hoped to find a new population west of Mobile Bay. Instead, they found a potentially undescribed species of crayfish. Years later, a team led by Mael…  More 

Southern Timber Hit Hard by Hurricane

Hurricane Michael roared through Florida, Alabama, and Georgia on October 10 and delivered a hard hit to timberland owners and timber markets. John Alter and Elizabeth Alter manage more than 1,000 acres in Malone, Florida, including 18 Tree Farm stands. The Alters were honored as Florida’s Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year in 2015. “This is a true…  More 

Innovations in Forest Operations Technology

Cut and haul costs. Elemental time study. Machine production hour. Ask USDA Forest Service scientist Dana Mitchell about any of these forest engineering terms, and you’re in for a treat. As a research forest engineer, Mitchell’s work focuses on improving the technology and business of forest operations – with a broader goal of improving forest…  More 

Post-Fire Mortality for Southern Hardwoods

Drive down Highway 7 in northern Arkansas, winding through the Ozark National Forest, and you may glimpse evidence of recent fire: scorched grass, darkened tree bark, maybe even a lingering wisp of smoke. Traces of prescribed burning can be seen throughout the South. Prescribed fire is a critical tool for forest restoration. A new study…  More 

Climate Influences Male-Female Balance in Longleaf Pines

For many reptile and fish species, temperature during egg incubation determines whether hatchlings are male or female. In the northern part of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, scientists have discovered that 99 percent of immature green turtles hatched in warming sands are female, raising concerns about successful reproduction in the future. U.S. Forest Service scientists have…  More 

The Many Dimensions of Tree Trunks

The taller a tree grows, the wider its trunk becomes. “It’s a fundamental relationship,” says U.S. Forest Service research ecologist Dale Brockway. Scientists use math to describe this height-diameter relationship. But one of the mathematical constants – a scaling exponent of 2/3 – is not always so constant, according to a recent study by Brockway…  More 

FIA Update on Alabama’s Forests

In the forests of Alabama you’ll find longleaf pine woodlands, bottomland swamps, sinkholes, and springs. You’ll see fox squirrels, indigo snakes, gopher tortoises, and pitcher plants. The Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program of the U.S. Forest Service collects field data on forest resources across the state, visiting around 700 of the more than 5,600…  More