Fire ecology in Shenandoah National Park
Document Type: Conference Paper
Author(s): G. Wilhelm
Publication Year: 1973

Cataloging Information

  • aborigines
  • Acer saccharum
  • anthropology
  • archaeological sites
  • balds
  • Betula lutea
  • brush
  • Castanea dentata
  • climax vegetation
  • deciduous forests
  • distribution
  • ecosystem dynamics
  • ferns
  • fire control
  • fire intensity
  • fire management
  • forbs
  • forest management
  • forest types
  • Fraxinus americana
  • grasses
  • grasslands
  • grasslike plants
  • grazing
  • Great Smoky Mountains
  • habitat types
  • hardwoods
  • herbaceous vegetation
  • histories
  • human caused fires
  • hunting
  • invasive species
  • landscape ecology
  • lightning
  • lightning caused fires
  • Liriodendron tulipifera
  • livestock
  • logging
  • mosaic
  • national parks
  • Native Americans
  • natural areas management
  • Nyssa sylvatica
  • Piedmont
  • pine
  • Pinus rigida
  • Pinus virginiana
  • presettlement fires
  • Quercus alba
  • Quercus prinus
  • Quercus rubra
  • recreation
  • season of fire
  • shrubs
  • site treatments
  • succession
  • Tilia americana
  • Ulmus americana
  • understory vegetation
  • Virginia
  • wildfires
  • woody plants
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 36364
Tall Timbers Record Number: 10736
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 Conclusions ... 'Prior to becoming a national park, Shenandoah had gone through periods of indiscriminate logging, hunting, livestock grazing, and burning. Then the area entered the National Park System and shifted abruptly to a regime of being unnaturally protected from the above mentioned activities.Although somewhat conjectural, perhaps, recent meteorological data indicate that lightning fires seem to have been a natural environmental factor in the origin of Big Meadows and other park clearings. Regardless whether lightning fires created Big Meadows or not, it is known that many clearings had been kept open for decades, if not centuries, by intentional burning, first by local aborigines, later by white settlers. The latter human element also practiced livestock grazing (mostly cattle).......[M]owing has kept the meadow and other park clearings open but has not stopped the ecological processes of succession from progressing toward the climax vegetation of oak-hickory forest.The simplest, most economical solution to prevent a climax forest from dominating park clearings is to use controlled burning, executed by trained park personnel in the late summer (after Labor Day) when park visitors are fewer in number.......[I]t is further suggested that the park administration seriously consider reconstructing both clearings as they were in the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries. I am recommending a reinactment of living ecological history, with proper biological, environmental, and cultural traits evident to future park visitors. Such an idea would entail the use of controlled burning, livestock grazing, and the reconstruction of a mountaineer farm with its fitting material culture. In this way Shenandoah National Park will be meeting its objective in providing for the preservation of an important pastoral landscape in an authentic fashion so that present and future generations may also experience the scene.'

Wilhelm, G. 1973. Fire ecology in Shenandoah National Park, Proceedings Annual [12th] Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference: a quest for ecological understanding. Lubbock, TX. Tall Timbers Research, Inc.,Tallahassee, FL. p. 445-488,