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Making the Case for Fire in Southern Illinois Forests

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Fire’s importance in the development and maintenance of oak forests has been well established across much of the eastern deciduous biome. Twentieth century fire suppression has resulted in decreased oak regeneration and portends the loss of keystone species across many landscapes including the Ozark and Shawnee Hills of southern Illinois. Here, cultural burning and harvesting fostered consistent oak recruitment until the 1950s when cutting declined and fires were widely suppressed. Now, many mature oak stands are in jeopardy of being replaced en masse by mesophytic species. We review evidence for fire as an ecosystem process and discuss an emerging strategy for the widespread reintegration of fire management across the midwestern landscape against the backdrop of media-driven public perceptions.

Keywords: fire history; oak replacement; prescribed burning; restoration ecology

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2006

More about this publication?
  • 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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