Estimating fuel consumption during prescribed fires in ArkansasThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
While prescribed fire is essential to maintaining numerous plant communities, fine particles produced in smoke can impair human health and reduce visibility in scenic areas. The Arkansas Smoke Management Program was established to mitigate the impacts of smoke from prescribed fires. This program uses fuel loading and consumption estimates from standard fire-behavior fuel models developed elsewhere in the United States. The accuracy of these models for determining fuel loading and consumption in Arkansas, however, is unknown. We established 120 Brown’s transects in fifteen burn units and three community types on the Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas to determine fuel loads before and after prescribed fires. The three community types were shortleaf pineoak (Pinus echinata -Quercus sp.) forest, oak forest, and shortleaf-pine woodland. We also compared fuel-consumption estimates of fine woody fuels derived from Brown’s transects with estimates derived from sampling plots, where we physically collected fuels, before and after the prescribed fires. We used Feat Firemon Integrated (FFI) software with localized bulk density values to quantify fuel consumption on six of the fifteen prescribed fires. Preliminary analyses showed that fuel consumption occurring in the Ouachita Mountains is consistent with expected values based on standard fire-behavior fuel models and that fuel consumption in restored woodlands is significantly less than that in closed-canopy forests.