Assessing the regeneration potential of productive mixed-hardwood stands following single and repeated prescribed fireThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Management efforts on public lands across the southern Appalachian Mountains are increasingly focused on the creation, maintenance, and/or restoration of resilient structures and species compositions, with prescribed burning being the primary tool by which many of these restoration efforts are conducted. In this study, we use regeneration data from a study designed to examine the ecosystem response of upland hardwood forests to prescribed burning in western North Carolina. Four 5-ha productive mixed-hardwood stands were burned between 2009 and 2010. Five years following the first burn (2014), two of the four stands received a second prescribed burn. Regeneration data were collected prior to burning as well as one and five years following the first burn and, for two of the stands, one year following the second burn. Using the REGEN model, we modeled species composition using data obtained from the regeneration inventories to examine how site-preparation burns designed to promote oak seedling development and reduce the abundance of oak competitors may influence post-harvest species composition. Although our results are model forecasts, the underlying data were obtained from actual regeneration inventories. In general, one and two site-preparation burns were forecasted to have little effect on species composition following harvest. The stands used in this study are scheduled to be burned a total of three times prior to implementing a regeneration harvest. Monitoring of the regeneration pool and subsequent success of the various species groups following harvest will be tracked over the long term.