Fire and its relationship to ponderosa pine
Document Type: Conference Paper
Author(s): H. Weaver
Editor(s): E. V. Komarek
Publication Year: 1968

Cataloging Information

  • age classes
  • ash
  • cover
  • experimental areas
  • fire hazard reduction
  • fire management
  • forage
  • forest management
  • grasses
  • habitat types
  • light
  • lightning
  • needles
  • nitrogen
  • old growth forests
  • Oregon
  • pine forests
  • Pinus ponderosa
  • regeneration
  • reproduction
  • seedlings
  • shrubs
  • size classes
  • surface fires
  • thinning
  • trees
  • understory vegetation
  • wildfires
  • wildlife
  • wildlife habitat management
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 31854
Tall Timbers Record Number: 5921
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Tall Timbers shelf
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.


From the Summary ... 'My summarization is based principally on results on the Colville and Fort Apache Indian Reservations, since it is on these areas where I have had most of my prescribed burning experience. Extensive observations and experience elsewhere, however, have convinced me that it has considerable validity throughout the Ponderosa Pine Region. The summary follows:1. Periodic prescribed burns reduce fire hazard and maintain it at a low level.2. Periodic burns improve forage and range, by reducing heavy needle and debris mats that inhibit grass and other desirable plants, by releasing nitrogen that encourages growth of these plants, and by encouraging growth of nitrogen fixing plants. Large, woody shrubs are deadened back to the ground line. Subsequent sprouts are more tender and more available for browse.3. Over most of the habitat types, particularly on the Douglas-fir-pinegrass type, the burning assures continued dominance of ponderosa pine.4. Periodic fires greatly improve the forest aesthetically. Anyone who has seen the beautiful stands herein described can appreciate this. What beauty is there in monotonous, dense, stagnating debris littered jungles?5. Periodic burning causes development of uneven-aged stands, comprised of even-aged groups of trees of various age classes. The fires do prevent establishment of reproduction under the larger, more valuable trees, where it definitely proves deleterious if it is permitted to continue growing. Paradoxically as it may appear, the fires also cause clearings wherein seedlings become established and by means of which the ponderosa pine forest perpetuates itself. This occurs where single mature trees or groups of trees have been deadened by insect attacks, disease, windthrow, or by lightning strikes. The recurrent fires gradually reduce the snag and windfelled remains of these deadened trees to ash beds, in the process causing a clearing in the surrounding grass and shrub cover. Tree seedlings germinate in these favorable spots, and by the time that grass and a mat of fallen needles can become reestablished, many of them are of sufficient size to survive light surface fires. Ponderosa pine seedlings are more fire resistant and are more apt to survive than are most of the associated species. Thus, there develop new even-aged groups of pines.6. Coincidental with development of the new, even-aged groups of reproduction, the fires act as an effective thinning agent while the trees are still in the seedling or small sapling size classes. Once the trees develop to larger sizes, effective precommercial thinning by fire becomes more difficult.'From the Conclusions ... 'The foregoing briefly describes how prescribed burning operations reduced incidence of wildfires; and the areas burned, damage and the costs of these fires. They have resulted in moderate thinning. At least on the Colville Reservation they have interrupted the trend towards development of climax tree reproduction and have encouraged ponderosa pine. They also have benefited wildlife and have improved range for domestic livestock.Contrary to recent intensive and widely disseminated propaganda to the effect that Only you can prevent forest fires! , fire in ponderosa pine is a part of the natural scene; part of an environment that we are being urged to perpetuate. I believe it will be found that prescribed burning is the key to intensive ponderosa pine silviculture. It should be continued for it is based on sound ecological concepts.'

Weaver, H. 1968. Fire and its relationship to ponderosa pine, in Komarek, E. V., Proceedings California [7th] Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference. Lake County, CA. Tall Timbers Research, Inc.,Tallahassee, FL. p. 127-149,