Fire Effects Monitoring Data

Monitoring Data

The NPS has established the Fire Management Handbook, a standardized protocol for collecting data (download it at In general, the following data is collected before and after the fire:

  • Photographs--to capture the general appearance of the area
  • Tree data--diameter, height, condition
  • Fuel load--amount of woody debris and litter on the ground
  • Cover of non-woody species
  • Density of seedlings and shrubs
  • Plant diversity--occurrence of different plant species
  • Burn severity, char height, and scorch height data--immediately after the fire,

In addition, weather and fire behavior are monitored during the burn. This includes such data as:

  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Wind speed and direction
  • Cloud Cover
  • Flame length
  • Rate of spread
  • Smoke column characteristics
  • Torching, spotting, or crowning

What are the monitoring results?

Although 80 monitoring plots along the Parkway have been installed, the datasets are not complete for all plots, and not all monitoring plots have been burned. Therefore, the sample size is too small to make definitive conclusions about the effects of fire. However, some trends in fuel load and small tree density reduction are evident. These trends are beneficial for the health of this ecosystem. Differences in the structure of the forest can be seen from photographs.

Photo of a monitoring plot before the area put into a burn rotation.
Preburn photos of loblolly pine forest along the Natchez Trace Parkway.

NPS Photo

Photo taken of monitoring plot one year after a prescribed burn.
Postburn photo of loblolly pine forest along the Natchez Trace Parkway taken one year after the burn.  Note that large diameter woody debris remains, but that litter layer and small diameter debris have been reduced.

NPS photo.

Last updated: April 14, 2015

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2680 Natchez Trace Parkway
Tupelo, MS 38804


(800) 305-7417

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