Effects of prescribed fire on vegetation and fuel loads in longleaf pine stands in the bluestem rangeThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Three longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.) sites in the bluestem (Andropogon spp. and Schizachyrium spp.) range were selected in Louisiana for a 40-month study: a shelterwood, a small pole stand, and a newly planted clearcut. On each site, two treatments were applied: check and prescribed fires (PF). Prescribed fi res were conducted in May 2001 and June 2003. Overstory basal area increased in the shelterwood and small-pole stand regardless of treatment. In August 2004, the checks had 39 percent and the PF plots had 15 percent cover in arborescent plants. Initially, grass cover was similar on both treatments (45 percent average), but in August 2004, grass cover was 16 percent on the checks and 28 percent on the PF plots. The decrease in grass cover was likely associated with increasing basal area in the overstory and changes in arborescent plant cover in the understory. Prescribed fire reduced dead fuel load over the 40 month period.