Newsletter of the Southeastern Section of the Association for by qga10106


                                                                                   Newsletter of the Southeastern
                                                                                    Section of the Association for
Photo Credit: Larry Korhnak
                                                                                                     Fire Ecology

                                    Volume 1, Issue 1                                          Spring 2009
    Inside This Issue
                                  Welcome Letter from the
  Fire and the Law            2   President
  New Publications            2   By Leda N. Kobziar
  Student Activism            3   Welcome to the Southeast-
                                  ern Section of the Associa-
  Conferences/ Events 3
                                  tion for Fire Ecology
  From the Field              3
                                  AFESE represents a coalition of
                                  professionals in wildland fire
  Southeastern AFE                dedicated to the responsible,
                                  science-based use and manage-
      Mission                     ment of fire across the Southeastern US. The Southeastern Section includes an impres-
“To foster excellence             sive diversity of ecosystems and associated fire regimes found in the states of Alabama,
in fire ecology and fire          Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Delaware, Mississippi, North
                                  Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and the
management among
                                  District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands Terri-
fire ecology profes-
                                  tories. Our mission is to foster excellence in fire ecology and fire manage-
sionals in the South-             ment among fire ecology professionals in the Southeastern U.S. through sci-
eastern U.S. through              ence and education.
science and educa-
                                  The SE Section is one of only three sections of the international Association for Fire Ecol-
                                  ogy (AFE), including the Student Association for Fire Ecology (SAFE; see report from a
                                  local chapter below), and the Association for Fire Ecology of the Tropics (AFET). AFESE
AFESE Officers                    emerged from the collective efforts of members of the Southeast Fire Ecology Partner-
 President                        ship, Tall Timbers Research Station, the Prescribed Fire Training Center, and the Univer-
         Leda Kobziar             sity of Florida. Inaugurated at the Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference in January of
                                  2009, AFE SE membership is comprised of agency, higher education, non-governmental,
 Vice President                   and private persons dedicated to perpetuating the informed, science-based use and man-
          Gregory Seamon
                                  agement of fire in the Southeastern US. We are actively seeking new members to
                                  help us achieve our goals to: (1) provide an opportunity to facilitate communication
         Lisa McInnus             among members within the Section; (2) serve as a unified means of communication with
                                  fire ecology professionals on issues dealing with fire ecology both internal and external to
 Executive Officer                the parent organization; (3) support or offer educational and professional programs and
         Kevin Robertson          services to members of the Section; (4) support the use of prescribed fire as a viable eco-
                                  system management tool; and (5) recognize and commend outstanding work by individ-
 Executive Officer                ual professionals or organizations in the area of fire ecology both within the Section and
         Alan Long
                                  through AFE. (Continued on Page 4)                Congratulations on 2.27 million acres in 2009 treated with prescribed fire in the SE !
   Page 2                                                                                                       Greenup!

                                      Fire and the Law
                                      By Alan Long, AFE SE Executive Committee & Professor, University of Florida
                                      When Florida enacted the Prescribed Fire Act in 1990 it set in motion a wave of
                                      changes in state statutes and regulations across the South. Today, all southern states
                                      have prescribed fire statutes of varying complexity that define the requirements for
                                      prescribed burning and liability protection. Some, such as Florida’s, have already
                                      had significant revisions. All are designed to protect prescribed fire as a legitimate
                                      land management tool and include some or all of the following statements: fire is a
                                      landowner’s property right, it is in the public interest, it benefits public safety, and
                                      the law protects responsible burners from civil liability for damages or injury caused
                                      by fire or resulting smoke. In most, but not all, states, the liability protection only
Photo Credit: David Godwin            applies to certified burn managers conducting burns according to the other applica-
                                      ble state regulations. The liability protection holds unless it can be proven that the
 University of Florida
 students and personnel               burn manager was either negligent or grossly negligent in conducting the burn that
 burning under the                    resulted in damage or injury. Since actual interpretation in a court may vary slightly,
 eddy covariance tower                simple and gross negligence will not be defined here other than to imply that they
 at the Austin Cary Me-               require substantially different levels of proof. At this point, only Florida and Georgia
 morial Forest this                   provide the “unless grossly negligent” protection. Although the state statutes vary
 spring.                              widely in how they describe prescribed fire and the requirements for conducting
                                      burns under the liability protection clause, most require the preparation of some type
                                      of burn plan by a certified burn manager, the presence of a certified burn manager on
                                      site, usually as the prescribed fire supervisor, and authorizations/permits issued by
                                      the state or local agency for the specific burn. Mississippi and Alabama even specify
                                      that the plans be notarized. The certification process also varies considerably, from
                                      week-long training courses in Florida to one-day classes with documented experience
                                      in South Carolina. (Continued on Page 4)

                                      New Publications
                                      Brewer, J.S., A.L. Cunningham, T.P. Moore, R.M. Brooks, and J.L. Waldrup. 2009.
                                      A six-year study of fire-related flowering cues and coexistence of two perennial
Photo Credit: David Godwin            grasses in a wet longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) savanna. Plant Ecology 200:141-154.
                                      Duncan, B.W., G. Shao, and F.W. Adrian. 2009. Delineating a managed fire regime
2009 Statistical                      and exploring its relationship to the natural fire regime in East Central Florida, USA:
Snapshot for the SE                   A remote sensing and GIS approach. Forest Ecology and Management 258:132-145.

Rx acres                     2.27m    Taggart, J.B., J. M. Ellis, and J.D. Sprouse. 2009. Prescribed burning in state park
                                      properties of North Carolina and nearby coastal states. Natural Areas Journal 29:64-
Wildfire acres               875K

Wildfires                    24,891   Lim, S.H., J.M. Bowker, C.Y. Johnson, and H.K. Cordell. 2009. Perspectives on pre-
                                      scribed fire in the South: Does ethnicity matter? Southern Journal of Applied For-
                                      estry 33:17-24.
Rx Fire Councils             15
                                 Greenup!                                                                       Page 3
Please join the Southeastern
Section of the Association for   Student Activism in Fire: Student Association for Fire Ecology (SAFE)
 Fire Ecology by visiting our
          website at             By Adam Watts, Co-President, UF Chapter SAFE & PhD Student            University of Florida’s chapter of the Student
                                 Association of Fire Ecology was formed two
                                 years ago to promote awareness of fire ecology,
                                 fire science, and fire safety, and also to serve as
   The AFESE includes            a resource for students who want to become
      members from               involved in the fire community. Our chapter
                                 consists of graduate and undergraduate stu-
     federal, state, and
                                 dents with a range of majors and specializa-
         local land              tions, bound together by the common interest          Photo Credit: David Godwin

       management                of wildland fire. Our chapter undertook a number of activities this past academic
                                 year, such as producing a calendar as a fundraiser for our club. Several members of
    agencies, nonprofit
                                 our group attended the Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference in January; we would
     organizations and           like to invite AFE members to view abstracts of the research we presented, available
        educational              on the UF Fire Science Lab’s website at Our most suc-
                                 cessful event was Prescribed Fire Awareness Day, which attracted much attention
    institutions across
                                 due to our special guest, Smokey Bear. Smokey attended courtesy of our friends and
     the Southeastern            colleagues at the US Forest Service’s Ocala National Forest, and spent the day hand-
       United States.            ing out educational material on the importance of fires in Florida’s ecosystems. Our
                                 group looks forward to joining the national Student Association of Fire Ecology to
                                 assist with this fall’s International Fire Congress in Savannah, GA .
   Do you have ideas or
   content for our next          Conference Committee Update
      quarterly issue of
             Greenup?            By Caroline Noble, Chair AFESE Conference Committee & Regional Fire
    Contact the publication      Ecologist, National Park Service
             coordinator at
                                 Two special sessions in development for Savannah will be sponsored by AFESE: Fire
                                 in hardwoods (headed by Margit Bucher) and Fire Effects Monitoring (Caroline No-
                                 ble). The Conference Committee’s goals are to recruit members, support the Na-
                                 tional AFE Conference Committee in planning and implementing the December
Southeastern Section of the      2009 Savannah Conference, and support, develop and coordinate regional confer-
Association for Fire Ecology     ences and meetings of both AFE and similar organizations that include dissemina-
          c/o Leda Kobziar       tion of information regarding the ecological role of fire. We are still seeking addi-
                                 tional members to represent a broader geographic range. Interested individuals
 School of Forest Resources      should contact Caroline Noble (
          and Conservation
       Newins-Ziegler Hall       From the Field: Bachman's Sparrows Love Fire!
            PO BOX 110410
                                 By Jim Cox, Tall Timbers Research Station
  E-mail:       Bachman’s Sparrows figure prominently in on-going discussions regarding fire fre-
                                 quency, fire season, and the effects these variables may have on the endemic wildlife
                                 of southeastern pine forests. This small, elusive songbird forages and nests exclu-
                                 sively on the ground, so fires have the capacity to eliminate food and cover and may
                                 destroy nests if applied during the breeding season. On the other hand, sparrows
                                 also abandon sites that are not burned frequently, often in the second year following
                                 the last fire. (Continued on page 4)
Greenup!                                                                                            Page 4

President's Welcome Letter
Continued from page 1
Please join us in bringing together the people who represent the knowledge, experience, and practice that
make our Southeastern Region the world’s most successful fire user! AFESE can help guarantee that the
Region plays an active role in influencing national and international fire use policy, practice, and knowl-
edge. We have so much to offer- this organization provides the structure to coordinate our efforts, sup-
port our activities, and extend our impact. Please consider joining us to ensure that your personal fire
expertise is represented by our Section’s activities. Membership benefits include reduced registration
rates for the upcoming Fourth International Fire Congress, to be held in Savannah, GA in November of
2009. For more information, and to join us as a member, please go to: You
can always contact me directly to share your thoughts and ideas:

From the Field: Bachman's Sparrows Love Fire!
Continued from page 3
Over the past 7 years, we have been trying to learn more about the relationship between fires and Bach-
man’s Sparrows by following uniquely marked birds on several properties in the Red Hills region of
southwest Georgia and north-central Florida. By following uniquely marked individuals, we found that
sparrows recovered quickly, with most (>70%) marked males remained on their territories following the
summer burns, with extensive re-nesting occurred just 6 weeks after the burns were conducted. We also
found that fledgling sparrows used summer-burned areas extensively. Also, almost every nest we found
(> 90%) was located in an area that had been burned within the past 12 months. Areas burned more than
12 months ago were searched with equal intensity, but recently burned sites were favored. Following fire,
vegetation grows back fresh and provides an umbrella of cover with bare ground below, but within 18
months the vegetation an litter become too thick to prefer for nesting. We also found that winter abun-
dances were higher on small-scale (<25 acre) burn blocks, but otherwise breeding-season burns (April-
June) covering 200-acre burn blocks did not pose a threat to Bachman’s Sparrows. Additional work we
have done suggests that winter burning may even be more disruptive than breeding-season burning. We
conclude that the negative aspects of breeding-season burning probably need to be considered only in
isolated areas that have a small acreage (<500 acre) of suitable habitat. Elsewhere, breeding season
burns can be integrated into broader burning programs that seek to achieve the high frequencies needed
for Bachman’s Sparrows and other fire-dependent species.

Fire and the Law
Continued from page 2
Laws regarding prescribed burning were compiled for 11 southern states by Doug Marshall in 2007 as
part of a major project at the University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources:
“Synthesis of knowledge of hazardous fuels management in loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) forests”. Individ-
ual statutes as well as summary information are available online at
Burning_laws/State_laws.html , along with links to many of the original sources. Although the summary
was completed in 2007, there are probably few major changes since then. However, readers are advised
to verify current laws in their particular state if they have any questions. Additional information on indi-
vidual state fire laws are available on the Southern Fire Science Forestry Encyclopedia Website (http://

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