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Summarized Comments and Author Responses: FIRE

Comment no. 107:

Because of the potential for interaction with other land use and environmental issues, using fire as a forest management tool is a highly site specific issue itself. Therefore, this discussion in this paper would be greatly facilitated by maps illustrating the geographic distribution of the forest communities discussed in this paper. -- Draft Report

Response by John Stanturf:

These maps are presented in other sections; see the maps in Health-1, Figure 35 and Background-History, Figure 2. -- Final Report


Comment no. 106:

Section 7 on restoring fire into southern ecosystems could benefit from additional discussion of how the positions on competing land use and other environmental interests would be dealt with if the use of fire as a forest ecosystem {tool} were to be "restored". Such additional discussion would improve the public's understanding of the public policy ramifications of the findings of this otherwise informative paper. This discussion should be summarized in a Key Findings section at the beginning of this paper. -- Draft Report

Response by John Stanturf:

We agree that this would be an interesting addition to the paper, however it would be a step into the policy realm and as such, is beyond the scope of the Assessment. -- Final Report


Comment no. 105:

Section 3.1 indicates that "The role of fire was dramatically increased with the arrival of aboriginal man in America." We feel this statement needs additional detail. How dramatic was this increase-was the entire landscape suddenly on fire? We suspect what the author means that Native Americans gradually adapted the natural fire processes they encountered and ultimately "significantly" increased and controlled its use. -- Draft Report

Response by John Stanturf:

We feel our statement is understandable and accurate as it stands. The rest of the section develops what we understand to be the meaning of "dramatically" increased fire. We do not feel that the suggested wording, of gradually adapting natural fire processes, accurately captures what we feel was the change. The key issue is that man was an ignition source, in addition to natural ignition by lightning. We attempt to show that this meant more ignitions, in more areas, and over a longer part of the year than would occur from lightning, thus more fires and more acres were the result. -- Final Report


Comment no. 104:

The discussion of fire regimes in the Piedmont region mentions pine and hardwood species. The section then discusses Shortleaf pine but does not discuss any other pine species or, perhaps more importantly, any hardwood species. Hardwoods are discussed in the Coastal Plain and Mountains and Interior Highlands section; are we to look to those discussions to discern the fire regimes in the Piedmont? If so, some discussion to fill this gap should be included. -- Draft Report

Response by John Stanturf:

In our attempt to be concise, we tried to avoid redundancy by not repeating the fire regimes already discussed for the Coastal Plain, but can now see that this was confusing. We have added wording that we hope will make it clear that the reader is to extrapolate from the regimes already discussed into the Piedmont. "Nevertheless, fire regimes are similar, depending upon site and stand conditions, particularly the amount of pine versus hardwood in a stand. The following discussion focuses on Shortleaf pine, which is more widespread in the Piedmont and mountains than in the Coastal Plain." -- Final Report


Comment no. 4:

As noted in "Fire Frequency on an Oak-hickory Ridgetop in the Missouri Ozarks", the sites studied represented a small portion of the total mosaic of forests in the region of only about 5% and this would include all of the sites in Missouri that Guyette has studied; with overall landscape only 42% forest would mean that the sites are representative of (at most) 2.5% of the forest in the region. But there is no reliable fire history for the other 97% of forest types to suggest that forest managers should use fire in the whole forest. Due to potential sampling bias, I feel we have been led to believe in unrealistic predictions of the pre-settlement natural fire frequency. -- Draft Report

Response by John Stanturf:

The pre-settlement fire regime cannot be derived from fire frequency data developed from existing stands. The vegetation has changed, the population levels and ignition sources have changed, and some would say that the climate has changed. Our estimates of pre-settlement fire regimes take into account potential natural vegetation types and ignition sources and frequencies based on population levels supported by archeological evidence. We agree that fire leaves a mosaic of vegetation communities, and we stated that. We presented our estimates in terms of those communities, not in terms of geographic areas. We did not suggest that managers should use fire in all forest types ("the whole forest"), and we would hope that managers would not use our summary in that way. We made no changes to the text based on this comment. -- Final Report


Comment no. 3:

In the "Forest Research Report #1, MO Dept. of Conservation, 1997", the authors used two small clusters of only 9 crosssections of particularly badly scared pine trees to make their inferences about fire return frequencies. This site may have been a favored campsite and these fire scars are from escaped campfires. -- Draft Report

Response by John Stanturf:

The same response here as above. -- Final Report


Comment no. 2:

The authors noted that these fire dependant pine sites are becoming predominantly populated by less fire tolerant oaks (more fire=less oaks). The wide range in the number of fire scars from one tree to another is indicative of the type of fire mosaic that the whole landscape would tolerate. The practice of adding up all the fire scars to get as low a fire frequency mean as possible is contrary to the scientific methods that data must be collaborative within the same site. To look at the natural fire regimes, one would have to go to the period before Desoto and there doesn't seem to be any real evidence in the literature for this early period. -- Draft Report

Response by John Stanturf:

We are uncertain if the commenter is directing this statement at our summary or the specific studies we cited. In any case, the work by Cutter and Guyette and Guyette and Dey apply to oak-hickory ridgetop sites, not the shortleaf pine sites. We agree that there is a mosaic of vegetation communities in a landscape; that is why we presented our fire regime estimates by vegetation community, not by landscape regions. While we do not have data from before DeSoto's expedition, we cite archeological evidence that population levels of Native Americans were greatly reduced by disease between the time of the DeSoto expedition and settlement. This had a profound impact on vegetation communities. In the absence of hard data, we are all free to make our cases as best we can from collateral evidence. We disagree with the commenter that there is no real evidence in the literature for fire regimes before European contact, and we presented our summary of that evidence in the section 3.1, Use of Fire by Native Americans. -- Final Report


Comment no. 2:

Manuscript by Glitzenstein, Streng and Wade submitted to Natural Areas Journal "Effects of fire frequency on longleaf pine vegetation in South Carolina and northeast Florida" clearly documents the need for 1-2 year fire return intervals for maintaining herbaceous species richness in longleaf flatwoods. Presumably will be published soon. -- Draft Report

Response by John Stanturf:

This may well be true. We did not change the text, however, because (1) maintaining herbaceous species diversity may not always be the goal of the manager, (2) on sites where the "typical" longleaf herbaceous community is lacking, simply changing the fire interval may not restore the herbaceous species, (3) we were not attempting to state restoration guidelines and (4) the cited publication is not yet in the literature. -- Final Report


Comment no. 2:

Page 24: "Of the South's 200 million acres of forest, 4 to 6 million acres burn annually." Page 7: Southern resource managers burn an estimated "8 million acres annually of forest, range, and cropland…" This was confusing at first but the difference must be that 2-4 million acres of range and cropland burn annually. -- Draft Report

Response by John Stanturf:

Yes, that is what we meant. -- Final Report


Comment no. 1:

I don't see how you can refer to pocosin fires as stand replacement fires. Normally all they do is topkill shrubs that then resprout. This is an example of your understory fire regimes. -- Draft Report

Response by John Stanturf:

We agree that pocosins have varied vegetation and fire history and such a blanket generalization in inappropriate. The sentence has been removed. -- Final Report


Comment no. 1:

Growing season fire for quail and other ground-nesters: Page 22. "Prescribed burns to improve wildlife habitat in existing pine stands…..to avoid the spring nesting season." However, Brennan and others found "Contrary to popular opinion, conventional wisdom, and management tradition, our results indicate that summer (lightning season) applications of prescribed fire can be used for northern bobwhite habitat management, especially in areas where econimical control of invasive hardwoods is needed." They also suggest the same may be true for turkey and other ground nesting birds. See: Brennan, L.A., R.T. Engstrom, W.E.Palmer, S.M. Hermann, G.A. Hurst, L.W. Burger, and C.L. Hardy. 1998 Whither wildlife without fire? Trans. 63rd No. Am. Wildl. and Natur. Resources. Conf. 63:;402-414. And also: Brennan, L.A., J.M. Lee, E. Staller, S. Wellendorf, and R.S. Fuller. 1997 Effects of seasonal fire applications on bobwhite brood habitat and hunting success. Quali IV: Fourth National Quail Symposium Program Abstract. -- Draft Report

Response by John Stanturf:

Good points. We added a statement about growing season burns and one of the references suggested (Brennan and others 1998). The additional statement was "On the lower Coastal Plain, bobwhite quail are favored by burning at 1- to 2-year intervals, and some results indicate that growing season burns can be used where control of invasive hardwoods is needed (Brennan and others 1998)." -- Final Report


Comment no. 1:

Bobwhite Quail are an edge habitat dweller and should not be used to develop closed canopy forest management goals. Please use appropriate species to discuss forest habitats. -- Draft Report

Response by John Stanturf:

Existing pine stands are managed for bobwhite quail. We agree that these are not closed canopy forests, however the open stand structure is similar to what existed under historic fire regimes. By all standards, these are forests. Therefore, we made no changes to the text. -- Final Report


Comment no. 1:

When I reviewed the references from Missouri, I find many important details that may paint a rather different picture of the fire frequency over much of the Ozark National Forest lands. See Proceedings of the 11th Hardwood Forest Conference, March 23-26, 1997. The author used stumps and remnants of Shortleaf pine trees in an Oak-shortleaf forest. He noted that less than half of the sites looked at in the area even supported pine. By focusing on fire history, the authors went to sites that are natural chimneys for all type of fire. These sites represent a very small slice of the landscape that composes the Ozark forests. -- Draft Report

Response by John Stanturf:

The commenter hits on a very important limitation of fire research in the South, that we seldom can use the methods of dating fire scars developed in the West to produce estimated fire return intervals. Because our landscapes have been so disturbed in the past, we seldom have specimens of long-lived species on which to conduct research. Even where we have remnant older stands, they generally remain because they are atypical or inaccessible and hence are not representative of general conditions. Thus one can develop many scenarios, depending upon what one looks at. In our case, we were attempting to describe fire regimes for vegetation communities, not specific stands in the landscape. The Missouri references do not provide the kind of data needed for describing long-term fire history or typical stand conditions. We made no changes to the text based on this comment. -- Final Report

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created: 4-OCT-2002
modified: 08-Dec-2013