Rekindling the flame: reconstructing a fire history for Peters Mountain, Giles County, Virginia
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Beginning in the late 1930s, fire exclusion has drastically altered the vegetation dynamics of the southern Appalachian Mountains. Extremely low fire frequency has allowed for more shade-tolerant species to invade once predominantly open forests and has made it almost impossible for fire-dependent species to establish on a site. One such species is the endangered Peters Mountain mallow (Iliamna corei Sherff.) located on Peters Mountain in The Nature Conservancy s Narrows Preserve in Giles County, Virginia. This paper focuses on the fire history and stand dynamics of Peters Mountain and how fire exclusion has altered the forest composition. The historic fire frequency and successional changes discovered here may provide an insight into management strategies for the mallow. Seventy-nine fire scarred cross-sections were taken and aged to determine fire history dates and frequencies. Three 50x20 meter plots were set up on opposing aspects: northwest and southeast. The aspects were chosen at the direction of The Nature Conservancy personnel. All trees within were identified, cored and aged to determine species composition and the establishment dates of all trees. Fire history analysis revealed a mean fire interval of 2.48 years, a Weibull median fire interval of 2.18 years and a 25 percent scarred class mean fire interval of 12.5 years. Stand dynamic results show that Quercus montana has established on Peters Mountain prior to fire exclusion and remains the dominate species on the landscape. An increased number of fire intolerant species (including Acer rubrum, Sassfras albidum, Nyssa sylvatica) have been establishing on Peters Mountain during the decades of decreased fire frequency, suggesting a shift in forest composition. Frequent fires are suggested for mallow management and oak forest maintenance.
Peters Mountain mallow (Iliamna corei Sherff.)
Hoss, Jennifer Ann (2007). Rekindling the flame: reconstructing a fire history for Peters Mountain, Giles County, Virginia. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from