Effects of prescribed burning, mechanical, and chemical treatments to curtail rhododendron dominance and reduce wildfire fuel loadsThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
More than a century of fire suppression has resulted in the increased abundance of Rosebay Rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum L.) throughout the Appalachian Mountains. Rhododendron has historically been most frequently associated with mesic sites, but can now be found proliferating toward drier midslope and ridgetop areas. The increased presence of rhododendron in understories of the Appalachian Mountains has negatively affected forest health. Two such negative effects are the stunted growth or absence or overstory tree regeneration and the creation of dangerous fuel complexes. The purpose of this study was to determine the efficacy and efficiency of various vegetation control measures (and their combinations) on the vigor of rhododendron and fuel loading within rhododendron thickets. The three vegetation control procedures were prescribed fire, herbicide application, and mechanical cutting.