Preliminary fuel characterization of the chauga ridges region of the Southern Appalachian MountainsThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Many areas of the southern Appalachian Mountains contain large amounts of dead and/or ericaceous fuel. Fuel information critical in modeling fire behavior and its effects is not available to forest managers in the southern Appalachian Mountains, and direct measurement is often impractical due to steep, remote topography. An existing landscape ecosystem classification (LEC) model was used as the basis for a characterization of fuel complexes in the Chauga Ridges region in South Carolina. We hypothesized that LEC site units have distinct fuel assemblages. Fuels were characterized using discriminant analysis, which yielded an overall 54 percent success rate of 275 randomly located plots. Rhododendron maximum L. biomass, R. minus Michx. ground cover, Vaccinium L. spp. ground cover, duff depth, and 1,000-hour fuel loading were discriminating fuel characteristics of xeric, intermediate, submesic, and mesic site units. Disturbance was not addressed in this analysis, but future work will address its effect on fuel complexes of LEC site units.