Fire Effects Monitoring

two fire effects monitors survey an area of the forest recently burned during a prescribed burn
Fire effects monitors collect data in a prescribed burn unit at Ozark National Scenic Riverways.

NPS Photo by Dena Matteson


In order for fire managers to make sound management decisions about prescribed burning, the effects of fire on native habitats and species are documented and analyzed. This information is gathered through methodical scientific surveys of monitoring plots within each of the prescribed burn units managed by Ozark National Scenic Riverways. Fire effects monitors gather a variety of information, including size and species of trees, measurements of leaf litter and duff, and quantities of herbaceous plant species. This data, known as "fire effects data", is collected at specific intervals before and after a prescribed burn, so that comparisons can be made by analyzing the changes in vegetation. Desired future conditions have been established for each prescribed burn unit and the analysis of the fire effects data helps managers determine if those goals are being met.

There have been a number of "success stories" that illustrate the importance of fire for our native landscapes and species. The fire management staff at Ozark National Scenic Riverways is proud to be a part of management efforts that have aided the conservation of fire-dependent species. For more information, click on the links below:

a firefighter checks notes next to a smoking line of fire in the woods
A fire effects monitor records weather conditions.
In addition to collecting data before and after a prescribed fire, fire effects monitors have a very important role during prescribed burns. While a prescribed fire is being conducted it is vital for wildland firefighters to know current weather conditions and fire behavior. A fire effects monitor assigned to a prescribed burn is responsible for monitoring a variety of factors and reporting them to all personnel on a regular basis. Information such as current temperature, wind speed and direction, relative humidity, and fire behavior are measured and recorded using a belt weather kit. Regular updates on weather and fire conditions can help wildland firefighters make good tactical decisions and remain safe in a dynamic environment.

Last updated: December 28, 2017

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