Saturday, September 17, 2011

Meeting the Future Desired Condition

After 26 years of prescribed fire on a high quality pine-oak woodland, an incredible woodland, one with integrity from the beginning....




6 comments:

Daniel said...

Ha Ha Tonka, right? I ended up visiting this week! I went with my advisor and a savanna ecologist from South Africa, and we were all thoroughly impressed. From a fire management perspective, you could pick out some definite fire shadows where they just weren't getting the intensity they were looking for on the Turkey Pen trail, but definitely in far better condition than the rest of the stuff around here. Thanks for the recommendation!

Allison Vaughn said...

Glad you made it out there. Fire has been part of the management regime for 30 years in state ownership, and thousands of years before that. The fire regimes didn't end in the Niangua Basin following settlement, so the integrity was never lost. Paul Nelson was then chief of Natural History for the state park system, and lit the first match for the whole park system at HHT. MDC and others were angry about it, complaining that they'd tried to stop locals from burning woods to save timber for many years. I don't think what you're seeing on the north slopes is necessarily fire shadow effects, but more of the effect of the topography of the chert woodland. When fire is used as a natural disturbance process, it's not stripped into places where it didn't move historically. Other agencies tend to do that, and damage the system in the long run. The fire manager at HHT is very skilled, and uses ring head fires to emulate natural processes--so fire goes where it is supposed to go, and trickles out in the North slopes, hence massive sugar maples and the lack of a grass-forb mix. That's not anthropogenic, but the result of fire behavior over the course of the millenia. You have now seen the end of the return interval, evidenced by the distinctive shrub layer that gets knocked back every few years but is vital to breeding bird populations. Hopefully conditions will be appropriate for the 1,026 ac. burn unit at Turkey Pen so you can see it after a burn. Nevertheless, forbs make up 67% of the ground cover at the park, and you'll be hard pressed to find a similar site in all of Missouri, barring the TNC Bennett Spring Savanna.

Stephen said...

Hello Ms. Vaughn,

I've gotten a lot out of reading your blog the last few years. I'm curious if you could recommend any further reading materials to learn more about the Ozark bioregion. Anything from books to the work of certain researchers. I know this is very broad but I would appreciate any assistance.

Thanks!

Stephen

Allison Vaughn said...

Thanks for reading, Stephen! I would highly recommend The Terrestrial Natural Communities of Missouri by Paul Nelson (available at most state parks for 35$, or online). I may also recommend early histories such as Henry Rowe Schoolcraft's Journals into the Ozarks (1818-1819, when the first surveys were being conducted) in a book called Rude Pursuits and Rugged Peaks. For research, there are some fascinating works by Guyette and Stambaugh on fire histories in the Ozarks published in various journals (search Google Scholar for these with keywords of fire, Guyette, Ozarks). Most libraries would be able to interlibrary loan the books for you if not available in your area, and reprints of articles can be acquired through university libraries. If you're particularly interested in Ozark bird populations or small mammal populations and their response to fire regimes, look for articles by Terrence Callahan (search for bird populations in burned and unburned Ozark savanna) and Becky Erickson (small mammals response to fire)--both of these are very good Master's theses that pertain to the highest quality woodlands in the Missouri Ozarks and the long fire history there. Good luck to you, and let me know if you have any particular interest and I can hone references...

Stephen said...

Hey Ms. Vaughn,

Thats exactly what I'm looking for.
I'd read a bit about Schoolcraft on the Ozarkswatch website but I should get the book. I've been reading some of the Guyette and Stambaugh studies, they seem to have a lot of them available on their website.

One last trivia question, do you have any idea if the Osage had a particular name for the Ozark region? I emailed an anthropologist associated with the tribe in OK but they didn't know right off. Anyway, thanks so much,

-Stephen

Allison Vaughn said...

Good, glad to be of help. I really don't know much about the Osage language, but you may want to visit local county history museums in post oak savanna country and look through some of their early recollections--sometimes these are bound. I know the name is of dubious origin--some say Aux Arcs for the natural bridge in Arkansas, others say Bois d'arc for the Osage orange tree (which is not very common in the Ozarks in native intact landscapes--I've never seen mention of either bois d'arc or osage orange in witness tree records for anywhere in the ozarks), oh, there are a few other names that people say gave rise to the Ozarks, but I think it's mostly old lore. Lots of people have done the legwork to figure it out, though...and all come up with different tales.