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    We reviewed the literature to synthesize what is known about the use of fire to maintain and restore oak forests, woodlands, and savannas of the upper Midwestern United States, with emphasis on Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Included are (1) known physical and ecological effects of fire on oaks from acorn through seedling, established sapling, and mature stages of the life cycle; (2) the use of fire to modify competitive interactions between oaks and mesic forest species (e.g., maple), between oaks and pines, and between oaks and grasses; (3) interaction of fire with other disturbances such as windthrow and harvesting, invasive species, and deer browsing; and (4) climate change. Throughout the report, we discuss the advantages and limitations of fire use in oak forests. We incorporate lessons learned from long-term experiments with fire, from historical evidence of fire over the centuries, and processes in areas where natural disturbances occur. We provide a brief summary of the use of fire to restore mixed oak-maple forests, mixed oak forests, mixed pine-oak forests, and oak savannas, along with take-home lessons about the complex relationships between oaks and fire.

    Publication Notes

    • Visit PNW's Publication Request Page to request a hard 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.


    Frelich, Lee E.; Reich, Peter B.; Peterson, David W. 2015. Fire in upper Midwestern oak forest ecosystems: an oak forest restoration and management handbook. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-914. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 64 p.


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    Prescribed fire, oak forest, oak savanna, forest restoration, forest management, fire ecology.

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