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Workshop/field trip: Flat rock jack pine wildfire

Updated: Dec 15, 2020

Workshop and field trip (Altona, NY), Sep 13 - 14, 2019

Associated materials:

This site is amazing and literally unlike any other pine barrens – a 3,000-acre contiguous jack pine heath barrens growing on less than 3 inches of organic matter on top of a largely exposed sandstone pavement. The understory is a continuous carpet of blueberry and huckleberry, with sphagnum and cotton grass bogs scattered throughout. The site is owned by the NY DEC Division of Lands and Forests and a private research facility, The William H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute.  Miner maintains a cooperative agreement with SUNY Plattsburgh, which has spent decades studying and using the site. There are a variety of SUNY professors studying all aspects of the site, including the effects of the wildfire. The state lands are managed by the NY DEC Division of Lands and Forests, but fire protection and law enforcement is done by the NY DEC Forest Rangers. The site is ~15 miles north of Plattsburgh. The 2018 fire was >500 acres and covered both the state and Miner properties.

The Flat Rock Fire Workshop is being generously hosted by the W.H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute in Chazy, New York. There is no cost to attend, but we ask that you please pre-register for the field trip so that we can have an accurate headcount for lunches, which the Miner Institute is graciously providing. CHECK OUT the working agenda below to see what is in store for this event! Also see the LODGING INFORMATION after the agenda. Hope to see you there!


Friday, September 13, 2019 – Science Symposium and Panel Discussion

  • 11:00-12:00 Optional tour of W.H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute facilities

  • 12:00-1:00 Optional lunch meet & greet among presenters and participants

Science Symposium

  • 1:00-4:30 Afternoon symposium and student poster session on fire science, fire ecology at Flat Rock. Presentation topics will include:

- Jack pine regeneration studies comparing silviculture, emulating disturbance, human history, comparison to actual post-fire conditions

- Geology and geomorphology of Flat Rock

- Benefits of pine barren management for fuels & pyrodiversity

- Jack pine/pitch pine range extents

- Jack pine regen following fire, snow manipulation & seedling survival

- Deer exclosures

- Fire chronosequence

- Entomology

  • 4:30-6:30 Free time, dinner OYO

  • 6:30-7:00 – Reception 

Panel Discussion

  • 7:00-8:30 Fire in Society: An evening community panel discussion focused on the wildfire, operations, and what it means to the community. What happened? Could it happen again? What if it happened again? Invited speakers include:

- Ellen Adams, historian at the Miner Museum  - Greg Spinner, Chief of Altona VFD  - Dave Russell, NYS Forest Rangers, IC for 2018 wildfire - Jared Booth, NYS Forest Ranger, on 2018 wildfire - Kim Coleman, natural resources planner, SUNY-Plattsburgh

Saturday, September 14, 2019 – Field Trip: Pre-registration is required for the field trip. The Miner Institute is generously providing lunch for this event.

  • 8:00-8:30 Sign-in, field trip overview, plan carpools to Flat Rock Field Trip

  • 8:30-9:00 Travel to Flat Rock stop 1.

  • 9:00-3:00 Stops will feature “outdoor classroom” discussions of:

- Fuel loads and fuels management - Fire ecology of jack pine barrens - Resource management, suppression impacts (e.g. dozer line) - WUI, community wildfire protection planning - How can we manage Flat Rock for multiple objectives of ecological integrity and human safety?

  • 12:30 Lunch at Altona Fire Department -Operations base from 2018 wildfire

  • 1:45 Dam – pitch pine, ice storm, cone crushing

  • 2:45 Wrap-up

  • 3:00 Travel back to Miner

  • 3:30 Adjourn


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