Role of Fire in Lodgepole Pine Forests

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Contribution to Book

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Lodgepole Pine : The Species and Its Management Symposium Proceedings

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Fire is one of the most important factors involved in the establishment and development of many lodgepole pine forests in North America. In the Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine is usually considered a fire-maintained seral type. But even here fires vary greatly in frequency, intensity, size, and other characteristics. A particular fire regime greatly affects forest succession, longevity of the species, stocking, and species composition; and fire also influences the incidence of insects and diseases. Fuel quantity changes over time and with it fire behavior potentials in natural and slash fuels. Fire behavior potentials are greatest when buildup of dead fuel coincides with development of understory conifers. Most fires are low intensity, creeping, surface fires, but high intensity crown fires during severe weather burn the most acreage. Fires, stand development, mortality influences, and fuel accumulation interact in a complex network. Sound management of lodgepole pine requires that we understand the complexities of lodgepole pine ecology, including the role of fire, and manage fire within that context.


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