The Modern and Historic Fire Regimes of Central Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts (Mouw 2002)


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The goals of this project were to determine how fire and vegetation have interacted in the past 150 years in the central Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts woodlands, and to use this information to determine what management actions could be taken to reduce both the current and future fire danger while protecting unique plant and animal communities. Data were collected from intensive and extensive vegetation sampling, as well as from the interpretation of aerial photos. Two fire regimes were defined for the area: the late historic (1850-1955) and the modern (1955- present day). Data were collected on Manuel F. Correllus State Forest (MFCSF) which comprises 5,190 acres (2,100ha) of scrub oak (Quercus ilicifolia), oak woodland (Q. alba, Q.stellata, and Q. velutina), pitch pine (Pinus rigida) forest, and conifer plantation (primarily Pinus strobus, P. resinosa, and Picea glauca) vegetation in the center of the Island. The vegetation of the Forest has been subjected to frequent wildfires for as long as records are available and was probably burned before the arrival of Europeans in the early 17th century. Using the data collected, the stands of MFCSF were grouped into six vegetation types, and six fuel types. Six custom fuel models, which are assemblies of vegetation structure data that are used by fire behavior simulations to predict fire behavior, were then created from these six fuel types. Using the fire behavior simulators, BEHAVE and FARSITE, potential fire behavior on the Forest was then evaluated.