Tuesday, 18 November 2003: 9:30 AM
Fuel characteristics and fire behavior predictions in native and old-field pinelands in the Red Hills Region, southwest GeorgiaPoster PDF (90.8 kB)
The study sought to determine how fire fuels and predicted fire behavior in upland pine forests vary according to land use history, fire regime, and timber stocking. Fuels at multiple sites were collected and measured by fuel type, and fuel loads were compared between native (longleaf/wiregrass) and old-field (shortleaf-loblolly) pinelands, 1- and 2-year roughs (years since burn), and levels of pine tree basal area per acre. Fire behavior predicted by BEHAVE software was similarly compared. Dead grass and live herb loads were greater in native (longleaf pine/wiregrass) pinelands than in old-field (shortleaf-loblolly) pinelands, presumably because of differences in soil disturbance history. Pine needle loads were also greater in native pinelands, attributable to dominance by longleaf pine. Needle loads increased with pine basal area, causing a corresponding increase in total fine fuel loads. In native pinelands, dead grass and live herb fuel loads decreased slightly with increasing pine basal area, but not enough to offset increasing needle loads. Standing fine fuel and needle loads remained relatively constant from year to year, while non-needle litter accumulated with time since previous burn. Using the fuel load measurements, the fire behavior model predicted that fire activity (flame length, rate of spread, fireline intensity) would be greater in native than in old-field pinelands, and that time since previous burn and pine basal area would have positive but smaller effects on fire. The results refine fire behavior predictions by providing fuel load assumptions that are specific to pineland cover types. Also, results demonstrate implications of native pineland conservation and pine timber management to prescribed fire behavior in southern pinelands.