Prescribed Burns for Restoration  

TOPIC: "Burning" question for consulting foresters here...

== 1 of 2 ==
Date: Sat, Mar 1 2008 12:22 pm
From: Gary Smith

Do you use fire in your practice?

In other words, on a clear cut area, do you typically have a
prescribed burn before replanting? (I know clear cutting is a no-no,
please bear with me)

If/when you use fire, are there administrative issues attached with
the burn such as permits or liability issues from the smoke, that have
to be considered?

Just wondering as I have a small amount of land that I really want to
take back to the original longleaf pine/bluestem grass habitat and a
fire regime every few years would have to be part of that equation.
Obviously, a fire lane will have to be maintained, but I'm just
wondering if there are issues related with fire that I haven't thought


TOPIC: "Burning" question for consulting foresters here...

== 1 of 13 ==
Date: Sat, Mar 1 2008 3:23 pm
From: Gary Smith


Creating a tree farm is the farthest thing from my mind. If I wanted a
tree farm, I would plant loblolly pines in a nice little row, like a
field of corn.

I'm wanting to recreate what the land most likely looked like 300+
years ago. There is no profit motive in this for me. 300+ years ago,
my little corner of the world was a woods dominated by a longleaf pine/
bluestem grass ecosystem, at least as far as I can tell from my
research. Fire, whether by fire or by Indians, created this ecosystem,
and fire is necessary again to recreate it and maintain it.

My topic question was motivated by a little comment I read elsewhere
on the net that recreating a longleaf pine forest is impractical for
the small, private landowner, because of modern day liability concerns
regarding fire. The article goes on to say that the future of longleaf
pines lies with public lands for that same reason.

Therefore, I wonder if my little plan is quixotic. (but I'm going to
do it, anyway.)


== 2 of 13 ==
Date: Sat, Mar 1 2008 3:34 pm
From: Gary Smith

p.s. 300+ years ago is an exaggeration. (sp?)

In my area, I believe the white man first starting settling in the
early 1800s, but the major decimation of the Southern woods occurred
post Civil War on up into around 1930.

From my readings, I believe the longleaf pine ecosystem is thought to
go back 5,000 years.


== 3 of 13 ==
Date: Sat, Mar 1 2008 3:55 pm

As I read your earlier post about Longleaf Pine and a local natural grass (?), I thought two fire adapted's likely that they'd benefit from controlled burning.
Having had something to do with ponderosa pines and blue gramma grass in northern Arizona, I can tell you that there are issues to consider...existing conditions and weather for the time of ignition are two obvious dry are the existing fuels? What kind of temperatures, relative humidities, winds are predicted before during and after ignition. What is the spatial arrangement of fuels, ie, lots of dead and down limbs and logs, lots of dried grasses, shrubs and understory that might ignite crowns with sufficient winds. How do you plan to perform ignitions? By hand, ie, by hand torch, lighting strips from the down wind side and running parallel lines incrementally, perpendicularlly into the wind?
What kind of fuel break are you using? Existing features such as rivers, lakes, bogs, roads, trails?
What kind of fire suppresion equipment will you have on hand, available as back up on short notice.
What is your proximity to higher density population centers?
Is the geography downwind (assuming a prevailing wind), and does it contribute to stagnation (valleys or basins), or will weather pattern lift smoke away and disperse it in much lower concentrations.
Where I worked, we had to bring in our state's air quality board, get their trust and approval, and follow their guidelines or be prevented from igniting, at certain ppms, weather conditions.
Are you in the middle of a long drought, with ground water deficits?

For us, the desired objective was to return the landscape to a more natural (for that area) fire regime, where the burn intensities were lower and the frequency of ignitions higher...essentially many light fires...mimicking the high lightning caused ignitions in our area. Your area may likely have it's own characteristics and idiosynchrises...

Oh, let your neighbors and agencies know in advance, so that issues can be resolved, preparations can be made, in advance of the day that you 'let her rip'!

== 4 of 13 ==
Date: Sat, Mar 1 2008 4:07 pm

I'm reminded of several texts that might be helpful in determining the reference conditions for your area...Tom Bonnicksen's "America's Ancient Forests: from the Ice Age to the Age of Discovery" has extensive anecdotal information across the US (and likely in the south) for the time period you're considering (5000 years to present). You might also find work by Devlin about your area.

== 5 of 13 ==
Date: Sat, Mar 1 2008 4:35 pm
From: Gary Smith

Don and John,

Thanks for the helpful suggestions and references.

My place is out in the sticks, a considerable distance from even a
small town. I would have a fire lane and a few guys to help me out of

Getting back to low intensity, occasional ground fires is exactly the
ultimate idea for my future longleaf pine patch.


p.s. About 20 miles from me, alongside an interstate highway, there is
a attempted longleaf pine forest that was planted a few years ago.
While the little longleafs are popping out of their "grass stage",
loblolly pines are really starting to muscle in because they have no
grass stage to go through. The little longleafs badly need a fire to
help turn back the loblollies, but because it is next to the
interstate, the landowner has to wait for the EXACT wind conditions,
etc, because of safety and liability concerns.

== 6 of 13 ==
Date: Sat, Mar 1 2008 5:11 pm
From: "Paul Jost"


I used to have a small rural prairie/savanna remnant that I burned. I
needed to notify and get approval from my insurance company and then get a
local fire permit. I had a driveway on one side, an access road on another,
and a brushed out path on the other two sides at least 10 feet wide that I
wetted down with a garden hose that was about 100 yards long. Smoke is
usually only a liability issue if in an area covered by a land covenant
prohibiting annoyances. I always burned from the downwind side into the
wind and never had any problems.

Paul Jost

== 2 of 2 ==
Date: Sun, Mar 2 2008 7:40 am
From: Will Fell


Burning on a clearcut in the south is primarily to eliminate logging
slash and is not essential to regeneration. That said it is relatively
inexpensive compared to other methods. Most southern states require a
permit or notification before a burn and most of the state forestry
agencies will come assist for no charge or a small fee. Consultant
foresters can conduct the burn for you, but the fee is often $20 per
acre or more and most no longer do this as they just are not
interested in the meager returns on this type work. Most southern
states have addressed the liability issues with hold harmless laws for
silvicultural fire. However you have to exercise due caution for smoke
management, prescriptions, weather etc. That is why it is important to
have some professional advice on setting up the burn. If you can show
due dilligence you can be protected from liability, but by all means
check with your state first.

Longleaf is can be very exacting to get a successful regeneration
where it no longer exists. I would suggest contacting your state
forestry agency to get advice and planning before you proceed. There
are several issues that need to be addressed before the first dollar
is spent; effective competition control, hardpans, soils, seedlings (I
highly recommend the extra money for containerized seedlings that are
hand planted) and post plant treatments until they come out of the
grass stage. Not sure where you live, but I suspect the Carolinas
which have an excellent longleaf program. And there is a good bit of
money out there to assist in the costs of the project.