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Grand Teton National Park Report

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In the early 1970's, the growing awareness of the potential ecological impacts of fire suppression and the threat of more intensive fires due to fuel accumulation in fire-suppressed forests prompted the National Park Service to allow some fires to burn (Grand Teton National Park 1974). One of the first "prescribed natural fires" in a western National Park was the Waterfalls Canyon Fire (WCF) in Grand Teton National Park (GTNP). It was ignited by lightning in July 1974. Amid much public controversy (Anonymous 1974), the fire burned 1414 ha before it was extinguished by snow in December. In the following year, GTNP biologists established permanent plots within and adjacent to the WCF in forests dominated by subalpine fir, Engelmann spruce, and lodgepole pine, and which varied in fire severity and time since fire. The goal of the study was to document the effect of the 1974 fire by monitoring long-term changes in vegetation, breeding birds, and small mammals (Barmore et al. 1976). Data were collected from four study areas in 1975, 1976, 1977, and 1983 under the direction of William Barmore. In 1991 and 1992 we resampled the permanently-marked vegetation plots and breeding bird transects. Our objectives were to compile, analyze and interpret all of the data collected from the four study areas since 1975.