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Characterizing Canopy Fuels to Predict Fire Behavior in Pitch Pine Stands

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Destructive sampling of 31 pitch pine (Pinus rigida P. Mill) trees ranging in dbh from 2.7 to 42.5 cm and in height from 4.1 to 23.8 m provided a complete inventory of needles and small-diameter branch weights used to characterize canopy fuels to predict fire behavior in pitch pine stands. Regression equations using dbh as an independent variable predict canopy bulk density with an r 2 > 0.93. The results provide managers with a method of evaluating the effectiveness of thinning operations in reducing crown fire potential in well-stocked stands. To demonstrate the application of the method, we calculated the wind speed (Crowning Index [CI]) needed to sustain an active crown fire in thinned and unthinned pitch pine stands in Montague, Massachusetts. Thinning to 2.8 m2/ha basal area increased the CI from 34 to 98 km/hour.
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Keywords: biomass; canopy bulk density; fire hazard reduction; fuel management; northeastern United States; pine barrens

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-03-01

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  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Northern Journal of Applied Forestry covers northeastern, midwestern, and boreal forests in the United States and Canada.
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