Temporal and Spatial Dynamics of Pre-Euroamerican Fire at a Watershed Scale, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. A.C. Caprio. in review. Proceedings of the Conference on Fire Management: Emerging Policies and New Paradigms. Nov. 16-19, 1999, San Diego, CA.
ABSTRACT The goal of the work presented here is to provide a better understanding of fire as a process in a complex landscape dominated by a high frequency surface fire regime prior to Euroamerican settlement. This is being accomplished by using a network of dendrochronologically reconstructed fire histories located throughout the coniferous zone in the East Fork watershed of the Kaweah drainage. Sampling is designed to answer questions about fire regime attributes such as area burned annually and frequency patterns relating to aspect, vegetation type and elevation. Initial analysis suggests striking differences in the past fire regime between north and south aspects with these differences strongest at mid-elevations. Return intervals on north aspects are less than half that observed on south aspects. Estimates of annual area burned also show considerable variability at different landscape scales, with area ranging from small-to-large. Fire in some years extended throughout much of the drainage, and based on interwatershed sampling, also occurred in adjacent watersheds. Pattern and variability in annual area burned were strongly influenced by aspect and annual climate variation. They underscore the importance of climate and topography as controllers of spatial and temporal patterns of fire occurrence. The patterns also suggest strong linkages between fire and ecosystem dynamics with important implications for resource managers restoring fire in this landscape.