Fire Ecology, 2009
Volume 5, Issue 1
We evaluated the effects of a prescribed fire in a ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forest intermittently over 43 years. Changing climatic (precipitation) conditions spanned this evaluation with a sequential pattern of annual precipitation regimes above average, average, and below average (drought conditions) encompassed. The original objective of the fire to consume three-fourths of the litter and duff layers to reduce the water-holding capacities of these layers was initially met. Although nearly 50 % of the basal area of the pre-fire tree overstory was lost in the burn, basal area was approaching 90 % of the pre-fire level 43 yr following the fire. We attributed the lack of ponderosa pine reproduction after 43 yr to the litter and duff layers returning to pre-fire conditions. Annual herbage production increased for a while following the fire but then decreased with the increasing tree overstory and litter and duff layers following the burn. Within the context of the changing climatic (precipitation) conditions encountered, the results of this evaluation indicate that prescribed burning at intervals less than the 43 yr evaluation period are required to sustain the effects of this prescribed fire.