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Managing Fuels in Northeastern Barrens

Updated: Nov 18, 2021

Field sampling procedures for quantifying fuel loads and generating Custom Fuel Models.

Author: William Patterson – UMASS Fuel Demonstration sites

The project website houses information for learning about Fuels Management in Northeastern Barrens.

It also has management suggestions, protocols, and results for Pine Barrens management techniques. Specifically, there are fire prescriptions, narratives of completed fires, custom fuel models, and fuels data that have been collected at a variety of barrens sites.

The website was last updated in May of 2013 and is no longer maintained, but is an excellent source of information compiled by Dr. Bill Patterson at the University of Massachusetts for his Joint Fire Science Program deliverable.

From the website's homepage: "Pitch pine-scrub oak barrens, also known as "pine plains," "sand plains," "pinelands," and "pine bush," occur throughout the Northeast from New Jersey to Maine. These barrens are characterized by excessively drained soils and by several plant species which are highly flammable and/or have adaptations to survive or regenerate after fire.

Pitch pine-scrub oak barrens are among the rarest and most imperiled natural community types in the United States, and they support a number of rare species... In the Northeast, researchers, land managers, and conservation organizations are working together to learn and apply the best ways to promote, maintain, and restore these unique ecosystems. Management techniques include the use of mechanical treatments (mowing, grazing, thinning), herbicides, and prescribed fire."

Cape Cod National Seashore

In 1986, the National Park Service, in cooperation with the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, initiated applied research on the effectiveness of varying season and frequency of treatments on forest composition, fuel loading, and fire behavior on sixty, 0.1 acre plots at the Lombard Paradise site. Flammable shrub understories have been treated by brush cutting (mowing) or prescribed fire in either the dormant (winter) or growing (summer) season. All treatments are replicated three times, with treatments applied at 1-, 2-, 3- or 4-year intervals.

Manuel F. Correllus State Forest on Martha’s Vineyard

Manuel F. Correllus State Forest (MFCSF) is located in Duke’s County on the 100 mi^2 island of Martha’s Vineyard , six miles off the south coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts . The forest comprises 5,190 acres of scrub oak, oak woodland, pitch pine forest, and conifer plantation vegetation in the center of the island. In 2003, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) in cooperation with the University of Massachusetts at Amherst initiated research to evaluate various fuel treatment methods including: thinning of pitch pine stands, mowing of shrub understories, and grazing of regrowth by sheep.

Montague Plains Wildlife Management Area

Starting in 2000, small prescribed burns have been conducted on a portion of the Montague Plains WMA for ecological management and training purposes. Two main areas of management and research have been ongoing at the Plains since 2000: pitch pine crown fuels characterization and crown fire behavior prediction, and scrub oak fuels and biodiversity management.

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