Geographic considerations for fire management in the Eastern United States: geomorphology and topography, soils, and climate

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Abstract

Across the Eastern United States, there is on average an estimated 36 MT ha–1 (16 tons ac–1) of dead woody fuel (Chojnacky and others 2004). Variations in fuel type, size, and flammability make the selection of treatment options critical for effective fuels management. The region is a complex landscape characterized by highly fragmented forests, large areas of wildland-urban interface, and vast differences in geomorphology, topography, soils, and climate. For example, the Coastal Plain is generally flat, has large areas of wetlands, and is derived from sedimentary parent material. By contrast, the Piedmont and Appalachian Mountains are derived primarily from igneous and metamorphosed igneous parent materials, have complex topography, and few or no wetlands. Understanding interactions among fuel management treatments and geographic areas, and matching treatment prescriptions with physical conditions is critical.

  • Citation: Clinton, Barton D.; Vose, James M.; Cohen, Erika C. 2012. Geographic considerations for fire management in the Eastern United States: geomorphology and topography, soils, and climate. In: LaFayette, Russell; Brooks, Maureen T.; Potyondy, John P.; Audin, Lisa; Krieger, Suzanne L.; Trettin, Carl C. Eds. 2012. Cumulative watershed effects of fuel management in the Eastern United States. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-161. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 41-67.

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