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Fire History and Perpetuation of Natural Coast Redwood Ecosystems

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Stump ring counts were used to determine the presettlement fire history of the coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens [D. Don] Endl.) forest ecosystem in Marin County, California. Data were collected on fire scars and also on fog drip precipitation at two sites logged in the 1850s. The sites, located on the first and third ridges inland from the Pacific Ocean, were selected to bracket the Muir Woods National Monument. The average interval between fires at the more coastal site was 27 years and at the inland site, 22 years. The difference is attributed to varying fire hazards related to a summer fog gradient. Frequency distributions of fire intervals for both sites were highly skewed toward shorter intervals. Skewed distributions indicated a natural pattern of several short intervals followed by one or more long intervals. Prescribed burning treatments should initially be repeated at less than average fire intervals and then at lengthened intervals to recreate natural fire regimes in the coast redwood forest ecosystem.
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Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Associate Professor, Department of Forestry and Resource Management and Department of Landscape Architecture, University of California, Berkeley

Publication date: 1985-08-01

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  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.

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