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The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Developing a framework for pine-bluestem community restoration in the Interior Highlands of Arkansas and Oklahoma
Year: 2002
Author(s): Masters, R. E.
Source Title: Proceedings of the Third Eastern Native Grass Symposium
Source Type: Proceedings
pages: 103
Original Publication:  
Abstract: Shortleaf pine-bluestem habitats were once a prevalent landscape component in the Ouachita Mountains. Frequent fire maintained these woodlands as distinctly open, pine-dominated communities with a bluestem grass to shrub dominated understory. Fire suppression has led to the replacement of pine-grassland woodlands with closed canopy pine-hardwood forest types throughout the southeastern United States. For landscape and ecosystem restoration, quantitative knowledge of historical vegetation patterns across the landscape is essential in order to develop accurate restoration targets. Historical land use documents such as General Land Office (GLO) survey notes have successfully been used to describe presettlement and settlement landscapes. Analysis of GLO data in the Ouachita Highlands of Arkansas and later in Oklahoma provided targets for stem density, basal area and information on tree species composition for renewal of the the pine-bluestem community. In the absence of quantitative data, plant community composition and fire regime may be inferred by a review of sediment cores from bogs, human settlement patterns, and historical accounts. Sediment cores provide insights to help develop restoration targets based on plant and animal occurrence records. They may provide insight for developing a suitable fire regime from descriptions of aboriginal firing patterns and seasonality of those patterns. Where possible fire chronologies can be used to refine recommended fire regimes and landscape interaction. Understanding gained from long-term small scale experiments on fire frequency and plant community response can further enhance development of management plans. Implementing a restoration plan may require direct intervention to restructure the system in a manner that is conducive to perpetuating it with fire, particularly where time is critical for saving fire-dependent species.
Publisher: The North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, NC, October 1-3, 2002. Omnipress, Madison, WI
Editor(s): J. Randall