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Ponderosa pine mortality in the Bob Marshall Wilderness after successive fires over 14 years

Posted date: January 30, 2020
Publication Year: 
2020
Publication Series: 
Research Note (RN)
Source: Research Note. RMRS-RN-85. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 13 p.

Abstract

Fire exclusion since the 1930s across western U.S. landscapes has greatly altered fire regimes and fuel conditions. After a lightning-caused fire swept through the center of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area in 2003, researchers initiated a comprehensive study along the South Fork of the Flathead River. This study assessed the post-fire survival of over 600 iconic, relict ponderosa pine trees. These trees are of great interest as they are ancient (>400 years old), and some have Native American bark-peeling scars and fire scars. This area had not seen fire since 1910, if not earlier, despite having frequent fire (20-30 year fire return interval) prior to European settlement. Some of the trees sampled in 2003 experienced another fire in 2011 (Hammer Creek Fire). In 2017, these trees were remeasured for post-fire mortality by size class for the fifth time since the 2003 Little Salmon Complex fires. We found that mortality rates were quite low (20 inches diameter) despite the heavy pre-suppression fuel buildup and recent insect outbreaks. Ponderosa pine mortality rates remained somewhat low (

Citation

Flanary, Sarah J.; Keane, Robert E. 2020. Ponderosa pine mortality in the Bob Marshall Wilderness after successive fires over 14 years. Research Note. RMRS-RN-85. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 13 p.