Table of Contents

Fire Ecology
Volume 3, Issue 2 - 2007
DOI: 10.4996/fireecology.0302

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Special Issue: Wildland Fire Use

Author: Carol Miller
Pages: 1-2
DOI: 10.4996/fireecology.0302001

What better way to learn about fire ecology than to allow fires to burn during their own season, at their own pace, and without interference from humans? The strategy known as wildland fire use (WFU) does just that, and is being increasingly applied, with over one million acres in the United States managed with WFU between 2003 and 2006. This issue of Fire Ecology highlights the strategy of WFU with six articles.

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Research Articles

The History and Evolution of Wildland Fire Use

Author: Jan W. van Wagtendonk
Pages: 3-17
DOI: 10.4996/fireecology.0302003

Wildland fire use as a concept had its origin when humans first gained the ability to suppress fires. Some fires were suppressed and others were allowed to burn based on human values and objectives. Native Americans and Euro-American settlers fought those fires that threatened their villages and settlements but left others to burn unabated. Even with the advent of a fire suppression capability in the late 1880s, control efforts were focused on areas of human development while fires in remote areas were largely ignored.

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Effects of Multiple Wildland Fires on Ponderosa Pine Stand Structure in Two Southwestern Wilderness Areas, USA

Authors: Zachary A. Holden, Penelope Morgan, Matthew G. Rollins, and Kathleen Kavanagh
Pages: 18-33
DOI: 10.4996/fireecology.0302018

The effects of 30 years (1972-2003) of Wildland Fire Use for Resource Benefit (WFU) fires on ponderosa pine forest stand structure were evaluated in the Gila Wilderness, New Mexico, and the Saguaro Wilderness, Arizona. Tree density, diameter-class distributions, basal area, and stand density index were compared among areas that burned with different frequencies since 1972 and areas that burned mid-century (1940-1950) and again during the WFU era (1972-2003).

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Fire Regime Attributes of Wildland Fires in Yosemite National Park, USA

Authors: Jan W. van Wagtendonk and James A. Lutz
Pages: 34-52
DOI: 10.4996/fireecology.0302034

Past attempts to suppress all fires in some western forests have altered historic fire regimes. Accumulated debris and dense understories of shade tolerant species coupled with a warmer climate have led to catastrophic wildfires. Prescribed fires and wildland fire use fires are used by land managers to reduce fuels and restore natural conditions. Little is known about how wildfires, prescribed fires, and wildland fire use fires differ in their fire regime attributes.

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Fire Scarring Patterns in Sierra Nevada Wilderness Areas Burned by Multiple Wildland Fire Use Fires

Authors: Brandon M. Collins and Scott L. Stephens
Pages: 53-67
DOI: 10.4996/fireecology.0302053

Uncertainty associated with fire-scar reconstructions of historical fire occurrence has led to questioning both estimates of frequency derived from these methods and the inferences on fire regimes drawn from these estimates. Using information from multiple, naturally-occurring fires (referred to as wildland fire use (WFU) fires) in two Sierra Nevada wilderness areas, we identified forest structural, topographic, and fire characteristics influencing fire scarring in trees and conducted direct comparisons of fire-scar reconstructed fire extent and frequency to fire atlas based estimates of fire extent and frequency.

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Patterns in Lightning-caused Fires at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Authors: Dana Cohen, Bob Dellinger, Rob Klein, and Beth Buchanan
Pages: 68-82
DOI: 10.4996/fireecology.0302068

Fires that burn unimpeded behave differently than suppressed or prescribed (management-ignited) fires. Studying this fire behavior increases our understanding of historic fire regimes. Wildland fire use policy allows for managing lightning-caused fires for resource benefit without suppressing them provided specific pre-defined conditions are met. Great Smoky Mountains National Park has managed ten fires under this policy from 1998 to 2006. Data from these fires and data from park fire reports for suppressed lightning-caused fires since 1940 were examined to illustrate patterns for non-anthropogenic fires.

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Simulation of the Consequences of Different Fire Regimes to Support Wildland Fire Use Decisions

Author: Carol Miller
Pages: 83-102
DOI: 10.4996/fireecology.0302083

The strategy known as wildland fire use, in which lightning-ignited fires are allowed to burn, is rapidly gaining momentum in the fire management community. Managers need to know the consequences of an increase in area burned that might result from an increase in wildland fire use. One concern of land managers as they consider implementing wildland fire use is whether they can meet the goals in the land management plan for the desired distribution of forest structural stages across the landscape with further increases in fire.

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