Document


Title

Wildland fuel management options for the central plains of Martha's Vineyard: impacts on fuel loads, fire behavior and rare plant and insect species
Document Type: Report
Author(s): William A. Patterson III; Gretel L. Clarke; Sarah A. Haggerty; Paul R. Sievert; Matthew J. Kelty
Publication Year: 2005

Cataloging Information

Keyword(s):
  • fuel load
  • fuelbreak
  • insects
  • Massachusetts
  • oak woodland
  • rare plants
Region(s):
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: August 15, 2016
FRAMES Record Number: 19894

Description

One of the largest undeveloped sandplains in Massachusetts exists in the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest (MFCSF) on the island of Martha's Vineyard. Nearly 4000 acres (1670 ha) of barrens vegetation remain in an area currently recognized as critical habitat for a number of plant and animal species that are rare in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. MFCSF has the state's highest concentration of state-listed terrestrial animals, some of which have been extirpated from mainland New England. Unique coppice-oak stands on the central plains are comprised of individual oaks that almost certainly predate the time of first European settlement in the early 17th century. These plants may be several hundred years old and collectively resemble British coppice woodlands that have been managed for centuries. Sandplain vegetation can be highly flammable, and under dry, windy conditions it can support extreme fire behavior. In addition to its flammability, high fuel loading contributes to fire hazard in barrens vegetation. Scrub Oak stands, in particular, are highly flammable and support high litter and shrub fuel loads (1-hr plus 10-hr fuels = 14.3 t/acre (32 mt/ha) and fuel depths of 4-5 ft (1.3-1.5 m). Pitch Pine and Oak Woodland stands support lower surface fuel loads (10.9 and 10.2 t/acre; 24 and 23 mt/ha, respectively) and fuel depths of only 1.6 and 1.9 ft (0.5 and 0.6 m). Scrub Oak and Pitch Pine stands can support canopy fires with extreme fire behavior, whereas Oak Woodlands are inherently less flammable. Most rare plant species on MFCSF occur in culturally maintained grasslands. Previous work suggests that Scrub Oak is most important for rare Lepidoptera species.

Online Link(s):
Link to this document (2.9 MB; pdf)
Citation:
Patterson, William A., III; Clarke, Gretel L.; Haggerty, Sarah A.; Sievert, Paul R.; Kelty, Matthew J. 2005. Wildland fuel management options for the central plains of Martha's Vineyard: impacts on fuel loads, fire behavior and rare plant and insect species. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts, Department of Natural Resources Conservation. 140 p.