FireWorks for the Northern Rocky Mountains and Northern Cascades - M19 & H18: History of Low-severity Fire
Course Type: FireWorks activities
Availability: Public access
Author(s): FireWorks Educational Program
  • Ilana L. Abrahamson
    US Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire, Fuel, and Smoke Science Program
Date Created: March 13, 2018

Cataloging Information

  • dendrochronology
  • fire interval
  • fire scar
Partner Site(s):
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: February 17, 2020
FRAMES Record Number: 25912


Lesson Overview: Students create a living model to demonstrate how fire scars form. They use dendrochronology to describe the history of low-severity fire for a single tree and then a whole forest. They assemble a stand history diagram and use it to identify years when low-severity fire occurred and to describe the spatial uniformity of past fires. Then they use information from the stand history diagram to discuss the policy of full fire suppression.

Lesson Goals: Students understand that low-severity fires were common in some forests during the past and were sometimes patchy, sometimes more uniform in their pattern of spread. Students understand that low-severity fires are less common now, at least partly due to a decades-long policy of fire suppression. They are able to express an informed opinion about fire policy and support their opinion with evidence.

Objectives: Students can

  • identify annual rings on tree cookies and identify scars made by low-severity fire.
  • describe the history of low-severity fire for a single tree and for a whole forest.
  • express an informed opinion and support it with evidence.