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The historical foundations of prescribed burning for wildlife: a southeastern perspective

Author(s):

A. Sydney Johnson
Philip E. Hale

Year:

2002

Publication type:

Other

Primary Station(s):

Northern Research Station

Historical Station(s):

Northeastern Research Station

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. 11-23.

Description

Controlled burning has deep historical roots in the South, where the practice was quickly adopted from the Indians by early European settlers. It became used widely, primarily to improve forage conditions for free-ranging cattle and to improve visibility and access. Likewise, hunting is deeply imbedded in southern culture and was an attraction to visitors throughout the 19th Century. This was especially true of quail (Colinus virginianus) hunting, and after the Civil War wealthy northerners began to buy large plantations for hunting retreats. In the 1920's Herbert L. Stoddard documented the necessity of prescribed burning to maintain bobwhite quail habitat on these plantations. Opposition to the practice among foresters and public agencies was fierce, and Stoddard became an outspoken advocate of light winter burning in longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) and, later, certain other forest types. Use of prescribed fire in forestry and game management was gradually accepted. But, although some naturalists such as Stoddard were interested in the effects of fire on native flora and nongame wildlife, private landowners and public agencies generally showed little interest in managing specifically for nongame wildlife until the 1970's. By then, there was in the southern states a background of 50 years of research and many more years of practical experience in the use of fire that could be applied to this new goal. Soon, any biologists and managers recognized that prescribed burning would play a nearly essential role in managing certain nongame species. And, as new management goals evolved, fire regimes other than light winter burning also came under scrutiny for potential use in restoration and maintenance of certain natural communities.

Citation

Johnson, A. Sydney; Hale, Philip E. 2002. The historical foundations of prescribed burning for wildlife: a southeastern perspective. 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. 11-23.

Publication Notes

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https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/19091