Rooted in Research
Saving Eastern Oak Forests: Prescribed Fire Impact on Timber Quality
Oak-dominated ecosystems in the eastern United States rely on periodic fire to create conditions that are conducive to oak regeneration. However, concern about reducing timber quality has made some managers wary of using fire as a management tool. A team of Northern Research Station scientists, foresters, and ecologists are collaborating to assess timber quality by inventorying trees across multiple national forests that have varied prescribed fire histories. Their findings indicate that economic damage to overstory timber value from prescribed fire is usually minimal, particularly compared to the costs of regenerating oak by other methods such as tree planting. This research is helping land managers and forest owners differentiate between uncontrolled wildfires and beneficial, low-intensity fires, and to calculate the economic advantages and disadvantages of prescribed burns in different forest stands.
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Science Delivery Specialist
USDA Forest Service - Northern Research Station