Lombard-Paradise Hollow Fire Management Research Area

Two fire crew members wearing yellow clothing carry hand torches through an area with small ground fires.


The Lombard-Paradise Hollow Fire Management Research Area encompasses approximately 30 acres of land within Cape Cod National Seashore. Located west of Route 6 in South Truro, the research area is situated on top of a plateau between Paradise Hollow to the south and Lombard Hollow to the north.

Periodic wildland fire helped create the fire-adapted pine-oak woodland vegetation type found throughout the Seashore and within the research area. The dominant canopy species are pitch pine (Pinus rigida) and white and black oaks (Quercus alba and Q. velutina), with scrub oak (Q. ilicifolia), huckleberry (Gaylusaccia baccata), blueberries (Vaccinium spp.), and wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) in the understory.
An area of forest with burnt ground after a fire has passed through.
Burning an area reduces the vigor of shrub understory species, reduces litter (fuel), limits the spread of surface fire, and reduces the risk of crown fires in pine stands.


Before the land was acquired by the National Park Service in 1961, it had been logged and grazed but not cultivated. Over the last 100 years the forest has experienced chronic gypsy moth defoliation and wildfire, which burned prior to the 1930’s. Decades of fire suppression altered historic fire cycles and allowed wildland fuels to accumulate, again raising the threat of
wildfires which could threaten structures within the Seashore boundaries.

In 1986, the National Park Service, in cooperation with the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, initiated applied research on the effectiveness of varying the season and frequency of treatments on forest composition, fuel loading, and fire behavior on sixty 0.1-acre plots. In 1995, larger 1-acre plots were established, and in 2003 nine additional 0.5-acre plots were created. Fuel treatments included prescribed burning and mowing (brush cutting).
A person wearing yellow fire protection clothing uses a brush cutter to clear low ground vegetation.
Brush cutting  reduces the vigor of shrub understory species, reduces litter (fuel), limits the spread of surface fire, and reduces the risk of crown fires in pine stands.


The research conducted at Lombard-Paradise Hollow set the stage for large-scale fuel treatments to be conducted throughout the Seashore. The study helps fire managers develop treatment methods to decrease the chances of catastrophic wildfire within the Seashore.

Treatments have been evaluated with respect to their effectiveness in restoring and maintaining ecological integrity of fire-adapted ecosystems. The treatments have also provided training opportunities for wildland firefighters, as well as prescriptions for improving public safety in the wildland-urban interface.
A color map  showing different terrain patches around a "y" shaped road.
Identifying markers are located at the southwest corner of each plot. There are three replicates of each treatment. The effects of the varying treatments and the effects of season and interval of treatment can be observed by comparing the results on individual plots.

Principle Investigators for the project are:

Dr. William A. Patterson III
Professor of Forestry
214 Holdsworth Natural Resources Center
Box 34210
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003-4210
(413) 545-1970 / wap@forwild.umass.edu

David W. Crary, Jr.
Fire Management Officer
Cape Cod National Seashore
Fire Management
99 Marconi Site Road
Wellfleet, MA 02667
(508) 349-3785 x 247 / David_Crary@nps.gov

Last updated: February 7, 2018

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Wellfleet, MA 02667


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