Regrowth of Shrubs in Grassy Balds of the Southern Appalachians After Prescribed Burning


Lawrence S. Barden

Additional Authors:


December – 1978


Shrubs, Grass, Balds, Appalachians, Burning, Aquila, chrysaetos, North Carolina

Regrowth of shrubs after one, two and three growing seasons following prescribed burning of herb-shrub communities at 1600-1800 m elevation in the Balsam Mountains of North Carolina was studied to determine (1) whether fire could initiate or maintain grassy balds in the southern Appalachians and (2) how often the U. S. Forest Service will need to repeat prescribed burning to maintain wintering habitat for the endangered golden eagle (<em>Aquila chrysaetos</em>). Fire and browsing by native herbivores temporarily set back shrubs but cannot maintain grassy balds in the open condition in which they were found in the early 1900’s. The results support the hypothesis that grazing by cattle, possibly preceded by deliberate burning, is responsible for bald information and maintenance. A maximum interval of five to eight years between prescribed fires will be necessary to retard further development of the shrub stand.