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    A healthy understory commmunity is a key factor in maintaining the biodiversity of longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) stands, and there appears to be a strong relationship between the occurrence of fire and the condition of the understory vegetauon. Generally, the understory is healthier in burned areas than in those not burned. TO assess the USC of prescribed 8~ in restoring and maintaining the health of longleaf ecosystems we looked at a subsample of Forest Inventory and Analysis plot data for longleaf pine maintained by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. The subsample consisted of longleaf pine plots in Florida, Georgia. South Carolina, and North Carolina. About half of all longleaf pine stands in the Soutbeast had been burned within the last 5 years. Florida had the highest proportion, of burned area (58%) and South Carolina the lowest (43%). Although there was some variation among states, fire had been used on most public land (83%) but on a relatively small proportion (37%) of privately owned land. In Georgia, where large hunting reserve8 constitute much of the private holdings, fire was used on 48% of the privately owned longleaf areas. The use of fire varied by site type and state; lowland areas were burned more in South Carolina, and uplands more in Georgia and North Carolina. There was a strong relationship between burning and understory condition with most of the unburned areas in poor condition. The use of prescribed fire by private owners is not likely to increase as many holdings are small parcels where burning is expensive and difficult.

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    Outcalt, Kenneth W. 2000. Occurrence of fire in longleaf pine stands in the Southeastern United States. In: Moser, W. Keith; Moser, Cynthia E., eds. Fire and forest ecology: innovative silviculture and vegetation management. Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference Proceedings, No. 21. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 178-182


    fire, Florida, Georgia, longleaf pine, North Carolina, Pinus palustris, prescribed burning, restoration, South Carolina, understory

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