HOT TOPIC: For as long as there have been forests, fire has been a part of woodland ecosystems. But just how helpful are “prescribed” burns? Do they enhance or hurt the bottom line for timber harvesters? Joe Marschall, an MU research specialist and coordinator of the Oak Woodlands and Forests Fire Consortium, is looking for answers. Working with staff and students at the University’s Missouri Tree-Ring Laboratory, Marschall has developed a quick and easy model for managers to use in estimating losses from prescribed burns. “It’s a tool that will enable a forest manager to go out in the woods and determine what value loss in timber products a particular tree has experienced to date,” says Marschall. This fire-damaged northern red oak log represents one of 90 trees used to develop the model. Its blue hue represents a labeling device: “The bottoms of all of our logs were painted a unique color combination to facilitate tracking of both the logs and boards through the study,” Marschall says. Like to learn more? Mike Burden’s coverage of Marschall’s research provides a closer look at cafnrnews.com.
Photo by Mike Burden