Reintroducing fire in ponderosa pine-fir forests after a century of fire exclusion
Document Type: Conference Paper
Author(s): C. E. Fiedler; S. F. Arno; M. G. Harrington
Editor(s): T. L. Pruden; L. A. Brennan
Publication Year: 1998

Cataloging Information

  • Abies spp.
  • biomass
  • coniferous forests
  • cutting
  • Dendroctonus ponderosae
  • disturbance
  • fire exclusion
  • fire hazard reduction
  • forest management
  • forest products
  • fuel accumulation
  • herbaceous vegetation
  • light burning
  • logging
  • low intensity burns
  • mineral soils
  • old growth forests
  • overstory
  • partial cutting
  • pine forests
  • Pinus ponderosa
  • plant diseases
  • Pseudotsuga
  • Pseudotsuga menziesii
  • regeneration
  • second growth forests
  • shrubs
  • trees
  • wildfires
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 36483
Tall Timbers Record Number: 10866
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.


Elimination of the historic pattern of frequent low-intensity fires in Inland West ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa)-fir (Abies spp. and Pseudotsuga menziesii) forests has contributed to major ecological disruptions. Today most stands contain thickets of small trees (often firs) and are experiencing insect and disease epidemics as well as catastrophic wildfires. Restoring sustainable forest conditions is complicated by fuel accumulation, poor tree vigor, and profound changes in stand structure.Existing conditions in many pine-fir forests require selective harvest to: 1) remove sapling and pole size ladder fuels; 2) manipulate species composition to favor ponderosa pine; and 3) reduce overstory density to promote regeneration. Selective harvest allows controlled removal of trees in terms of number, size, species, and location, particularly those that cannot be targeted for removal in a prescribed burn. Selective harvest also allows trees to be used for forest products, often generating enough income to pay for needed restoration treatments.Prescribed fire should be introduced after the initial cutting as a more ecologically based disturbance to promote restoration. Properly applied fire removes undesirable small trees, reduces the fuel hazard accentuated by cutting, stimulates herbaceous and shrubby vegetation, and creates nutrient-rich mineral seedbeds favored for seral species regeneration. Fire should be reapplied periodically to manipulate living and dead biomass, and help maintain healthy, resilient forest conditions. © 1998, Tall Timbers Research, Inc. Abstract reproduced by permission.

Fiedler, C. E., S. F. Arno, and M. G. Harrington. 1998. Reintroducing fire in ponderosa pine-fir forests after a century of fire exclusion, in Pruden, T. L. and Brennan, L. A., Prodeedings 20th Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference: Fire in ecosystem management: shifting the paradigm from suppression to prescription. Boise, ID. Tall Timbers Research, Inc.,Tallahassee, FL. p. 245-249,