Daniel B. Tinker, Dennis H. Knight
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NRFSN number: 18453
Record updated: November 19, 2018

This chapter describes the snags and coarse woody debris (CWD) in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Severe forest fires, such as those that occurred in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem of 1988, create ephemeral forests of dead trees. For many people the trees are both an eyesore and a waste of salvageable wood. Harvesting the wood of burned trees is an option in many areas, but ecological processes in national parks are allowed to proceed whenever possible with minimal human intervention. The standing dead trees, commonly known as snags, have been falling to the ground and decomposing for millennia in most forest ecosystems. The approach to estimating the conversion of downed CWD to charcoal is based on the volume of a tapered cylinder.


Tinker DB, Knight DH (2004) Snags and coarse debris: an important legacy of forests in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. In ‘After the Fires: the Large fires and post-fire heterogeneity of change in Yellowstone National Park’. (Ed. LL Wallace) pp. 279–298. (Yale University Press: New Haven, CT). DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300100488.003.0012

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