Three centuries of Appalachian fire history from tree ringsThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Many researchers and resource managers advocate an increase in fire use to restore fire regimes similar to those
under which the vegetation of the Appalachian Mountains developed. Restoring fire implies a need to establish historical
reference conditions. We have developed dendroecological reconstructions of fire history and forest dynamics for a network
of sites in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Estimates of fire frequency for these sites
indicate that fire typically returned at intervals of 2-19 years. Burning occurred at a relatively steady level under varying
land uses until the early twentieth century. Fire activity thereafter plummeted with the onset of organized fire prevention and
suppression. Our results suggest fire return intervals that managers might target for restoring communities that developed
under the aboriginal and European land uses that preceded widespread logging and fire exclusion.