Midwestern Fire Management: Prescribing a Natural Process in an Unnatural Landscape

  • Mark W. Schwartz
  • Sharon M. Hermann


In this chapter we review the philosophy and use of prescribed fire in the fragmented landscape of the Midwest. Forty years ago most resource management agencies viewed fire as a destructive force to be suppressed at all costs (reviewed by Pyne 1982). Over time, and with increasing knowledge and experience, there has been a shift in attitude. Many scientists and land stewards now understand that fire was once an important component of many natural landscapes and today, prescribed burning is a vital tool for land management. Fire is now frequently studied for its ecological effects (e.g., Kozlowski and Ahlgren 1974; Higgins et al. 1989a,b; Warren et al. 1987; Collins and Wallace 1990; Robbins and Myers 1992). Modern textbooks describing the ecology of North American ecosystems include discussions on the significance of fire in almost every biome (e.g., Barbour et al. 1980, Barbour and Billings 1988). In particular, there is strong evidence to indicate that habitats with a grass-dominated ground cover were maintained by frequent, often low-intensity, fires prior to European settlement (e.g. Barbour et al. 1980, Christensen 1988, Sims 1988). Without fire, the vegetation of prairies, oak savannas, and shortleaf pine barrens changes dramatically (Anderson 1972, Gleason 1913, Haney and Apfelbaum 1990).


Fire Regime Fire Effect Tallgrass Prairie Fire Management Prescribe Fire 
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Copyright information

© Chapman & Hall 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark W. Schwartz
    • 1
  • Sharon M. Hermann
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for Population BiologyUniversity of California-DavisDavisUSA
  2. 2.Tall Timbers Research StationTallahasseeUSA

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