Learning to live with fire: managing the impacts of prescribed burning on eastern hardwood value
Oak (Quercus) is a fire-adapted genus that has assumed dominance in forests, woodlands, and savannas over thousands of years during periods of frequent fire in North America (fig. 1). Fire has played an important and sustaining role in regeneration, competitive dynamics, rise to overstory dominance, and ecosystem structure and function in oak-dominated ecosystems. Oak and pine (Pinus) were highly soughtafter timber species during the initial logging boom of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, prized for their high quality and the diversity of forest products made from them during a period of frequent and mixed-severity fire regimes. It is somewhat ironic then, but understandable, that fire would come to be viewed as a negative, destructive force in American forestry, in part due to the catastrophic fires that burned over millions of acres and took thousands of lives.