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Evaluating Economic Impacts of Prescribed Fire in the Central Hardwood Region

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Mann, David ; Wiedenbeck, Jan ; Dey, Daniel ; Saunders, Mike R.

Year Published



Journal of Forestry


Surface fires are often prescribed to favor oak (Quercus) regeneration in eastern forests, but there is potential for fire to damage residual overstory timber. This study evaluated the potential economic effects of prescribed fire on sawtimber volume and value across 139 stands, each with a known history of one to six prescribed fires, on the Hoosier, Mark Twain, Wayne, and Daniel Boone National Forests. Sawtimber volume and value losses were highly variable, ranging from 0 to 2,269 bd ft ac–1 and from US$0 to US$272.95 ac–1, respectively, for stands that had received at least one prescribed fire. Volume and value losses increased linearly by +0.9 percent and +1.5 percent per burn, respectively, that a stand received over the past 25 years. Stands with southfacing aspects had greater relative volume and value losses (+1.4 to +1.5 percent, respectively), but this influence was statistically less important than the number of burns in predictive models. The eastern national forests had much lower average relative volume and value losses, <3.0 percent, than the more western Mark Twain National Forest (10-15 percent loss). Species composition affected value loss associated with prescribed fire; red oaks experienced significantly higher value loss than all other species groups.


timber damage; white oak; mixed-effect models; aspect; economic tradeoffs


Mann, David P; Wiedenbeck, Jan K; Dey, Daniel C; Saunders, Mike R. 2020. Evaluating Economic Impacts of Prescribed Fire in the Central Hardwood Region. Journal of Forestry. 118(3): 275-288.

Last updated on: June 24, 2020