Fire Stories

Fire stories from the national parks highlight events, incidents, and the like, associated with fire and fuels management, as well as fire education, technology, partnerships, and more. Stories highlight work related to Department of the Interior initiatives as well as local and regional initiatives.

Picture Perfect Prescribed Fire

Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
National Fire Plan, Fuels Reduction*

On March 18th and 19, 2010, Hot Springs National Park conducted a highly successful prescription burn in an old growth community of oak, hickory, and shortleaf pine that may be one of the oldest stands in the state of Arkansas. Some of these individuals have been core dated and found to be over 400 years old and pre-date European influence by many years. The forest community on Sugarloaf Mountain resides on a rocky ridge with a very limited soil profile and high local relief. The absence of fire for many decades had resulted in high fuel loads and deep layers of organic debris and duff. A real pre-burn concern was that the re-introduction of fire could result in significant mortality to the pines if extraordinary precautions were not observed. That led to extensive raking and other mechanical thinning around trees of concern.

The post burn assessment points to a near perfect burn. One of the primary goals included the re-creation of an open forest floor. Historical photography and literature suggests that this was the reality. With a planned prescriptive return interval of 4–5 years, it is hoped that the community's original biodiversity can be reestablished.

Hot Springs National Park offers thanks to the burn team and all that supported this effort. Their attention to detail lent to the success of the prescribed fire.

Contact: Steve Rudd
Phone: (501) 620-6751

*This story supports Department of the Interior initiatives.