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.

Oriental bittersweet, a non-native invasive species had invaded forest at Indiana Dunes.

Park Fire Staff Assist with Research Project Funded by the Joint Fire Science Program

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indiana

Applying fire in a plot area with established plants. Click for a larger version.

During the 2009 and 2010 spring and fall fire seasons Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (INDU) Fire Management was instrumental in helping USGS scientists burn research plots as part of a Joint Fire Science Program funded project. The project, "To Burn or Not to Burn Oriental Bittersweet: A Fire Manager's Conundrum", is a research project to help determine how the highly invasive vine, Oriental bittersweet reacts to fire. Scientists Noel Pavlovic and Stacey Leicht-Young determined there was a need to understand and document the interaction between fire and post-fire resprouting of Oriental bittersweet, as well as to investigate the how fire may interact with light, soil moisture, litter and other environmental factors to either increase or decrease abundance of the species. Additionally, their research hopes to determine how fire regimes influence the distribution of Oriental bittersweet on the landscape.

Applying fire in a plot area with established plants. Click for a larger version.

INDU fire management was involved from the beginning. No additional fire funding was requested. Time was committed for writing two burn plans, as well as helping to prepare firelines around over 90 research plots of various sizes. Two phases of the research required slightly over two years of burning. The first phase looked at the susceptibility of Oriental bittersweet invasion in which fire was one of three treatments, requiring burning of 60 small scale-plots. The second phase delved into the fire effects of already established populations in the park in two different soil types and divided into previously burned and unburned locations. Thirty seven larger plots were burned over two seasons.

Hopefully this close collaboration between USGS and Fire Management will provide land managers with sound science to support decisions that lead to successful management of this species in fire dependent and invaded areas.

Contact: Neal Mulconrey, Prescribed Fire and Fuels Planner
Phone: (219) 395-8420