Many fire-adapted ecosystems in the northeastern U.S. are converting to fire-intolerant vegetation communities due to fire suppression in the 20th century. Prescribed fire and other vegetation management activities that increase resilience and resistance to global changes are increasingly being implemented, particularly on public lands. For many fire-dependent communities, there is little quantitative data describing historical fire regime attributes such as frequency, severity, and seasonality, or how these varied through time. Where available, fire-scarred live and remnant trees, including stumps and snags, offer valuable insights into historical fire regimes through tree-ring and fire-scar analyses. In this study, we dated fire scars from 66 trees at two sites in the Ridge and Valley Province of the Appalachian Mountains in central Pennsylvania, and described fire frequency, severity, and seasonality from the mid-17th century to 2013. Fires were historically frequent, of low to moderate severity, occurred mostly during the dormant season, and were influenced by aspect and topography. The current extended fire-free interval is unprecedented in the previous 250-300 years at both sites.
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