Wildfire During a Drought? It Can Still Benefit Forests

In the summer of 2011, lightning struck a ridge near High Peak Mountain, on the Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas. The High Peak Wildfire began. “It’s a remote and rugged area, and we were in the middle of a severe drought,” says Virginia McDaniel, a USDA Forest Service forestry technician, who led a study on…  More 

Life as a Radio Operator in the Communications Unit

“Communications, Taskforce Leader Peterson,” blurts the radio. “Communications, go ahead Taskforce Leader Peterson,” I say. “I would like to report a vehicle rollover on Highway 73. Please clear the airway for emergency traffic only.” The Communications Unit bursts into action. Someone alerts critical members of Type 1 Incident Command Team that we have an Incident…  More 

Top Ten of 2020

As 2020 comes to an end, it is a good time to gather our most-read CompassLive stories from the past year. Each one highlights the work of USDA Forest Service scientists at the Southern Research Station. We hope you enjoy reading this collection, which includes the most popular of 2020 plus a few more that…  More 

Wildfire Recovery Hot Moments

Disasters can be catalysts for change. As wildfires become more common, an emerging objective is to make communities fire-adapted, where ecological benefits of fire can be realized while minimizing threats to life and property. Yet questions remain as to when and how such community change takes place. Recent research by Ronald Schumann of University of…  More 

QUIC-Fire: A Fast Tool for Prescribed Fire Planning

Predicting fire behavior is complicated. Current modeling tools work to balance the interplay between many different factors including weather conditions and vegetation structure. Yet these tools are often underutilized because they require high-performance computing resources. Rodman Linn from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, with expertise from SRS researchers Scott Goodrick and Joe O’Brien and additional…  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 

A Yearly Health Checkup for U.S. Forests

Every year, the USDA Forest Service Forest Health Monitoring (FHM) program tracks changing forest conditions, including national assessments as well as focused regional analysis. The resulting report is the only national summary of forest health undertaken on an annual basis. Forests constantly change as a result of tree growth and mortality, weather events and climate…  More 

Upland Hardwood Silvicultural Workshop Goes Virtual

In July, state forest agencies, National Forest System managers, and others convened digitally for the Upland Hardwood Silvicultural Workshop. The virtual workshop, organized by the USDA Forest Service Upland Hardwood Ecology and Management Research Work Unit, consisted of half-day sessions in which natural resource practitioners learned the most up-to-date hardwood forest management practices based on…  More 

New Directions for Fire Ecology Research

Fire is a complicated process that affects forests in diverse ways. Current methods for predicting fire effects on forests still largely rely on past observations rather than a deep understanding of how fire interacts with a forest environment. In order to more fully understand fire’s effect on an ecosystem, wildland fire must be viewed as…  More 

After Fire, Red Oak Seedlings Resprout

Disturbance – from fire and subsistence living to widespread exploitative logging – enabled the growth of oak (Quercus) forests across the eastern U.S. These disturbances are not common today. Reduced disturbance, coupled with a long-term increase in moisture availability has been good for non-oak trees, which establish and grow under the older oak canopy –…  More