Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub


    On the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, managers have used prescribed fire to create and maintain early-successional and open forest conditions across large areas. We used a landscape-scale and image-based approach to assess the extent that prescribed fires, including repeated fires, have created these forest conditions and put the results in context of the new George Washington National Forest management plan. At the landscape level, early-successional forest made up an average of 5 percent of burn unit area after one burn, 9 percent after two fires, 17 percent after three fires, and 14 percent after four fires. On average across all burn unit acreage, open forest made up 5 percent of the area after one burn, 7 percent after two burns, 9 percent after three, and 8 percent after four fires. The forest plan desired condition of 12 percent of the area in early-successional forest was met after three or four fires and was exceeded in some individual burn units. It is harder to achieve open-forest than early-successional conditions using prescribed fire alone. We also examined possible drivers of canopy gap creation in these forests. Vegetation type and heat load index, a topographic-based measure of solar radiation received by a site, were important predictors of where canopy gaps formed after prescribed fire.

    Publication Notes

    • Check the Northern Research Station web site to request a printed copy of this publication.
    • Our on-line publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat.
    • During the capture process some typographical errors may occur.
    • Please contact Sharon Hobrla, if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Lorber, Jean; Thomas-Van Gundy, Melissa; Croy, Steve. 2018. Characterizing effects of prescribed fire on forest canopy cover in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. Research Paper NRS-31. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 30 p.


    Google Scholar


    overstory mortality, fire severity, landscape-scale fire, canopy cover

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page