Ancient piñon-juniper forests of Mesa Verde and the West: a cautionary note for forest restoration programs
Document Type: Conference Proceedings
Author(s): William H. Romme; M. Lisa Floyd-Hanna; David D. Hanna
Editor(s): Philip N. Omi; Linda A. Joyce
Publication Year: 2003

Cataloging Information

  • age classes
  • Amelanchier utahensis
  • Artemisia tridentata
  • biogeography
  • catastrophic fires
  • climatology
  • Colorado
  • coniferous forests
  • distribution
  • fire exclusion
  • fire frequency
  • fire hazard reduction
  • fire intensity
  • fire management
  • fire regimes
  • fire size
  • fire suppression
  • forest management
  • fuel moisture
  • fuel types
  • grazing
  • hazard reduction
  • heavy fuels
  • ignition
  • invasive species
  • Juniperus osteosperma
  • low intensity burns
  • Mesa Verde National Park
  • mosaic
  • national parks
  • natural fire regime
  • old growth forest
  • piñon-juniper forests
  • Pinus edulis
  • Pinus ponderosa
  • population density
  • presettlement fires
  • Pseudotsuga menziesii
  • Quercus gambelii
  • rate of spread
  • savannas
  • shrublands
  • soils
  • stand characteristics
  • succession
  • surface fires
  • thinning
  • vegetation surveys
  • wildfires
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 13215
Tall Timbers Record Number: 16145
TTRS Location Status: Not in file
TTRS Call Number: A13.151/5:RMRS-P-29
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


Fuel reduction and fire mitigation activities may be linked to restoration of overall forest health, but the two goals do not always coincide. We illustrate the importance of understanding both historic and contemporary fire regimes by evaluating the piñon-juniper forests of Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado. These dense forests are characterized by infrequent, severe fires occurring at intervals of many centuries. Stand structure, composition, and fire behavior have not been substantially altered by 20th century fire suppression, in contrast to other piñon-juniper systems. We hypothesize that three qualitatively different disturbance regimes characterize piñon-juniper ecosystems throughout the West.

Online Link(s):
Link to this document (10.3 MB; pdf)
Romme, William H.; Floyd-Hanna, Lisa; Hanna, David D. 2003. Ancient piñon-juniper forests of Mesa Verde and the West: a cautionary note for forest restoration programs. Pages 335-350. In: Omi, Philip N.; Joyce, Linda A. (technical editors). Fire, Fuel Treatments, and Ecological Restoration: Conference Proceedings: 16-18 April 2002: Fort Collins, Colorado. Proceedings RMRS-P-29. Fort Collins, CO: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station.