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Henri D. Grissino-Mayer, Christopher M. Gentry, Steve Croy, John Hiatt, Ben Osborne, Amanda Stan, Georgina DeWeese Wight
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Cataloging Information

Fire History
Subalpine dry spruce-fir forest, Montane dry mixed-conifer forest

NRFSN number: 13363
Record updated:

Wildfire is a natural process that plays an important role in creating, shaping, and maintaining the forests, woodlands, and grasslands of our physical environment (Swetnam et al. 1999). Most forested landscapes require periodic fire to maintain the overall health of their ecosystems. Wildfires are instrumental for the reproduction of certain tree and shrub species by preparing a mineral seedbed, removing forest litter that may hinder successful germination, and for opening cones sealed with resin (e.g., bristlecone pine, Pinus aristata Engelm.). Over the past 100 years, various human-related disturbances (such as fire suppression, logging, forest fragmentation, and livestock grazing) have led to the unprecedented build-up of flammable fuels on the forest floor. This increase has possibly contributed to larger, catastrophic stand-replacing (i.e., high-severity) fires that are becoming increasingly more common, rather than the low-severity and mixed-severity fire regimes that likely once characterized much of the western United States (Swetnam 1990; USDA Forest Service 1993; GrissinoMayer and Swetnam 1997).


Grissino-Mayer, H.D.; Gentry, C.M.; Croy, S.; Hiatt, J.; Osborne, B.; Stan, A.; Wight, G.D. 2006. Fire history of western Montana forested landscapes via tree-ring analyses. Professional Paper No. 23: 47-56.

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