Fuels management in the southern Appalachian Mountains, hot continental divisionThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
The Southern Appalachian Mountains, Hot Continental Mountains Division, M220 (McNab and others 2007) are a topographically and biologically complex area with over 10 million ha of forested land, where complex environmental gradients have resulted in a great diversity of forest types. Abundant moisture and a long, warm growing season support high levels of productivity across the area. Disturbances such as fire, severe windstorms, ice storms, and outbreaks of pathogens and insect infestations are common and can affect large areas. The interactions among these factors can produce a dynamic forest fuels situation, requiring frequent monitoring and updating of fuel loads. Fire exclusion since the early 20th century has allowed a buildup of fuels, both living and dead, across the Southern Appalachian Mountains. A rapidly expanding wildland-urban interface and the potential for climate change to increase the frequency and severity of wildfires will require that more resources be devoted to fuel management. In this new environment, managers will need more effective methods of fuel management to reduce the potential for hazardous wildfires and maintain landscape diversity.