Involving the public in restoring the role of fire in the longleaf pine ecosystem of Upland Island Wilderness

Brian P. Oswald, Ike McWhorter, Penny Whisenant

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The 13,250-acre Upland Island Wilderness (UIW) in Texas was established in 1984 and is managed by the United States Forest Service (USFS). Historically, portions of it consisted of open and diverse longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) ecosystems which depend on frequent, low-intensity surface fires. As in many other relatively small wilderness areas, the vegetation and fuel conditions in the UIW underwent extensive changes after wilderness designation. Lightning-caused wildfires were no longer allowed to burn with the frequency or intensity that characterized the natural fire regime. This has resulted in an increase of shade-tolerant trees and shrubs, heavy accumulations of duff and pine litter, and loss of suitable habitat for several rare species, including the red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis). In addition, the unnatural fuel accumulations have created a serious fire hazard that threatens the safety of firefighters, private citizens, adjacent properties, and the wilderness resource itself.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

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