NAFSE August 2015 Newsletter
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In this month's Newsletter:
July Field Trip Recap
JFSP Funding Announcement
In The News: Steven Pyne's Box and Burn and other articles.
Upcoming Events: Field trips, webinars, workshops, and trainings.
One Fire Day: Short Stories of Memorable Fires, "The Birthday Burn"
North Atlantic Fire Science Resource Highlight: Fire management of Japanese Stiltgrass
July field trip recap
Contrasting consequences of wildfire seasonality


In July, NAFSE, hosted a highly successful fire management and botany field trip in Atsion, NJ. Although temperature highs were predicted to be in the 90's, 25 people came out to brave the heat. Luckily the pine flies were absent for the day! Tom Gerber, district firewarden, and Ted Gordon, pinelands botanist, lead the trip. Discussion covered explaining how fires behaved and the logistics of containing them as well as how the history and severity of forest fires in different sites have created different habitat and forest structure for pinelands species. In attendance were undergraduate and graduate students, scientists, NGO representatives, state forest and fire managers, and out of state fire and game managers.

DID YOU MISS THE TRIP? Good news, you can check out the virtual field trip below. It includes all of the stops we made, along with photos and detailed descriptions of the discussion at each site. Thanks to Dr. Ken Clark for the excellent notes he provided for each site.
Joint Fire Science Program Funding Opportunity Announcement
The Joint Fire Science Program has announced Potential Topics for their upcoming Funding Opportunity Notice (FON). The final FON is expected approximately September 15, 2015 and will remain open through November 13, 2015.

Potential topics applicable to our region include:
  • Implications of changing ecosystems
  • Social, organizational and institutional barriers to implementing prescribed fire
  • Fire effects on tree mortality
  • Post-fire landscape management
  • Fire and Smoke Model Evaluation Experiment (FASMEE)
  • New Science Initiative – Ecological and social dimensions of resilient landscapes
  • Graduate Research Innovation (GRIN) award
We encourage managers and scientists in our region to read about these topics to see if they would help further your science-based management efforts. Feel free to contact us if you would like help finding collaborators in our region.
In the News:
Upcoming Events
Save the Date!

NAFSE Capstone Workshop. New Jersey's Forest Fire: Past, Present, and Future Nov 4-6th. This workshop will include field trips along with presentations and panels at Stockton University. Schedule and speakers are still to be finalized, but Stockton University's Dr. George Zimmerman, Professor of Environmental Studies, will be leading us on a tour of the Forest Stewardship Research Area on campus as part of the field experience.  
        Photo by Inga La Puma
6th International Fire Ecology and Management Conference November 16-20th, 2015 San Antonio, TX. Association for Fire Ecology: Advancing Ecology in Fire Management. August 14th Oral Presentation Abstract Deadline

Coming up:
NAFSE WebinarFire and the Northern Long-Eared Bat: Vulnerability and Management Considerations October 14th, presented by Luke Dodd, Assistant Professor, Eastern Kentucky University  

Courses: To be held at Camp Edwards - Joint Base, Cape Cod, MA. Click below to see announcements and course registration info for each course.
1. Introduction to Fire Effects (RX-310) (This training will have special emphasis placed on Pine Barrens and other systems common to Massachusetts) 21 to 25 September, 2015 – 0800 to 1700
2. Fire Operations in The Wildland/Urban Interface (S-215) 24 to 25 September, 2015 – 0730 to 1730
3. Firefighting Training (S-130) – Blended (students will also complete online work for S-130/S-190/L-180/ICS-100/IS-700) 21 to 23 September, 2015 – 0800 to 1700

Field trip, Sept 22nd, Pitch Pine- Oak Management in Central Pennsylvania, Habitat Restoration in Progress organized by the Pennsylvania Prescribed Fire Council and co-sponsored by the North Atlantic Fire Science Exchange and the Appalachian Fire Science Consortium. This will be an exciting trip to view restoration projects in action. We hope that many folks from the NAFSE region can attend so we are offering funding for travel upon approval. 
  • Contact Amanda Mahaffey for funding requests: 
  • Email: or call 717-418-0625 to register for the field trip by Aug 21.

Field trip, Aug 26th, Lake States Fire Science Consortium: Moquah Barrens pine barrens restoration project. This system has many parallels to our pitch pine coastal plains system in the North Atlantic. Click on the flyer below for more information.  

One Fire Day        

We are searching for folks to contribute short stories about fires that stand out in their memories for reasons that are related to fire science, behavior, or urban interactions. 

For this newsletter, Peter Grima gives us an inside look at a burn Dr. Bill Patterson conducted on his birthday back in 2007: "The Birthday Burn". Peter Grima was the very last graduate student that Dr. Patterson took on at UMass, completing his M.S. in Forestry in 2009.  He now works as a Service Forester for the Mass. Dept. of Conservation & Recreation in northern Berkshire County, substituting spruce-fir and rich-mesic forests in place of the pitch pine woods of his graduate years.

                Dr. Bill Patterson at the burn site. - Photo by Peter Grima
The Birthday Burn
On July 2, 2007, there were many things I had not yet experienced.  As I donned my Nomex that morning, I was years away from owning a home, just a month away from becoming a father, and only hours away from taking part in my first full-fledged growing season, woodland burn.  I had lit off my inaugural share of dormant season grassland and scrub oak, but this was the first “in the woods” summer burn in my favorite inland sandplain at the Montague Plains Wildlife Management Area in western Massachusetts, where I could finally ascertain the interplay of litter and shrub fuels, and how one utilizes the “paintbrush” of prescribed fire – the drip torch –to tame the burn and keep things from escalating into the pitch pine canopy.There are three important details to report about that day: 1) The burn boss was Dr. Bill Patterson, understated grandfather of prescribed fire in Massachusetts, and also my graduate advisor; 2) It was Bill’s 62nd birthday; and 3) There was a component of quaking aspen – a “clone” – in the overstory at one end of the burn unit.     This last detail may seem inconsequential, but for anyone who has suffered any measure of time with Bill (and I mean that in the kindest and most respectable way, for “suffer” is a word he himself has used) had probably heard about his epic battles against Populus tremuloides in the wilds of Minnesota’s Lake Itasca State Park during his PhD years, tales of being soaked with 2,4-D (yes, Agent Orange) and of the “millions of stems per acre” that invariably grew back, seemingly out of spite, forging thenceforward a potent and enduring adversarial relationship between Dr. Patterson and all things Populus. The second detail is critical because I distinctly recall a noticeable gleam in Bill’s eye that morning, as if he meant to make that day count more than most, to scoff at mortality and aspen clones and leave his mark indelibly on the landscape through the medium of fire.  His muted fervor was heightened by the addition of the Cape Cod National Seashore outfit (and their engine) to our motley crew of researchers, students, biologists and state workers. In retrospect, the fire behavior that day was more or less typical of a growing season burn in scrub oak fuels.  It was a hot fire with intermittent, semi-explosive torching of live scrub oak foliage, and even some short-lived “crown fires” in scrub oak, which was all new and exciting to me, but hardly the stuff of epic tales.  Even so, I knew this small triangle of woodland would prove to be special, not just because of its role in marking the nativity of our burn boss, but because of a suite of ecological indicators observed in its wake.  In short order, some of the mop-up crew discovered a box turtle that had somehow survived the burn (or at least that’s the version I have stored in my memory…).  And in my own mop-up endeavors, I flushed a whippoorwill, seemingly unfazed by the flames, from the interior of the unit.  Lastly, living just a few miles away, I had volunteered to look for smokes the following morning, and I discovered several families of grouse, fledglings in tow, happily foraging in the black, seemingly thankful for our labors.  All this within half a day of the burn!More notable than these elements of instant gratification have been the insights gained in the intervening years while revisiting my old haunts, following through as a student of fire to learn from the best experts – the fire-adapted species – just how each one has fared in the wake of our meager approximations.  Each time, I am forced to grin as I fondly recall Bill’s wily smirk against a backdrop of flaming scrub oaks, the heat from which was enough to top-kill just about all of the aspens, and the vigorous sprouting of which was enough to overcome the nearly-matched vigor of the aspen suckers.  The aspen clone, at least that small one encompassed within the birthday burn, is now an open-canopied scrub oak glade within a greater oak-pine woodland.  It is a small victory, much delayed, but we can now say that, at least on that day, Bill won. 
Fire Science Resource Highlight

Each newsletter we will highlight a useful resource with applications to the North Atlantic Region.

Are you battling the invasive Japanese stiltgrass in your area? Do you want to know if fire might help? Check out this collection of presentations from a workshop held by the Oak Woodlands and Forests Fire Consortium to see results of experiments using prescribed fire and other treatments on Japanese stiltgrass.

NAFSE Leadership Team

USFS Northern Research Station
Nicholas Skowronski - PI
Erin Lane - Coordinator
Forest Guild
Amanda Mahaffey - Workshop and Field Trip Coordinator
NEFFPC / Rutgers University
Inga La Puma - Co-PI/ Science Communications Director

NAFSE Community Representatives

Gregory Nowacki, USFS
Kenneth Clark, USFS
Thomas Parent, NEFFPC
Maris Gabliks, USFS
John Ross, CIFFC

Tom Gerber, NJFFS
John Cecil, NJ Audubon
Brad Simpkins, NHDFL
Neil Gifford, APBPC
Jessica Leahy, U of ME
Lauren Howard, Arcadia U.
Joel Carlson, NEFFM, LLC.
William Patterson, III., UMass
Matthew Duveneck, Harvard Forest

Our Exchange region.
A selection of photos from our Flickr group
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