U.S. Joint Fire Science Program


Date of this Version


Document Type



Fire Science Brief, Issue 144, October 2011


US government work.


Regeneration of Table Mountain pines in the Southern Appalachian has been on the decline since the 1950s. From central Pennsylvania to northeast Georgia, stands of these pines are beginning to be dominated by oaks, particularly chestnut oak, and by hickories. It has been believed that this is because the shade-intolerant pines are being replaced by more shade tolerant hardwoods and shrubs, largely a result of fire exclusion in these areas. Few studies have evaluated fire as a tool for replacement of this species. Some prescriptions have called for intense crown fi res, but these narrow the burning window and cause concerns about worker safety and smoke management. Further, some studies have shown that some high-intensity fires have had poor pine regeneration, possibly because of excessive drying of the seedbed habitat or complete destruction of the cones on standing trees. A recent research project suggests that periodic lower intensity fires may cause more hardwood mortality than initially believed, and these may actually be better tools for Table Mountain pine replacement.