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    Author(s): D. H. Van Lear; R. F. Harlow
    Date: 2002
    Source: In: Ford, W. Mark; Russell, Kevin R.; Moorman, Christopher E., eds. Proceedings: the role of fire for nongame wildlife management and community restoration: traditional uses and new directions. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-288. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station. 2-10.
    Publication Series: Other
    Station: Northeastern Research Station
    PDF: View PDF  (78.24 KB)

    Description

    Fire is a major influence shaping wildlife habitats in the eastern United States. Lightning- and Indian-ignited fires burned frequently and extensively over the pre-Columbian landscape and shaped the character of numerous ecosystems. Depending upon the frequency, intensity, and severity of the fires, various assemblages of plants developed along environmental gradients, creating a shifting mosaic of habitats for wildlife. For millennia, fire was a major ecological process, mostly burning as frequent, light to moderate intensity surface fires in some ecosystems and as intense, stand-replacing fires in others. Within the past 100 years, fire has been excluded from most of the East and fire-maintained habitats have dramatically declined. In many cases, wildlife species dependent on these habitats are in decline or experiencing dangerously low numbers. Unfortunately, the trend toward a relaxation of bans on burning may soon be reversed due to the adverse publicity from recent disastrous fire in the West.

    Publication Notes

    • Check the Northern Research Station web site to request a printed copy of this publication.
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    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.

    Citation

    Van Lear, D. H.; Harlow, R. F. 2002. Fire in the eastern United States: influence on wildlife habitat. In: Ford, W. Mark; Russell, Kevin R.; Moorman, Christopher E., eds. Proceedings: the role of fire for nongame wildlife management and community restoration: traditional uses and new directions. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-288. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station. 2-10.

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