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A Tree Ring Based Fire History of the Clover Mountains, Lincoln County, Nevada
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Fire is a dominant form of disturbance in the American west, and is a primary management concern because of its threat to natural resources and human development. Research on fire history of the Great Basin is lacking. Here I summarize the results of a fire history study in the Clover Mountains of Lincoln County, Nevada. Using fire scars from ponderosa pine trees I reconstructed fire history back to 1785 and examined fire frequency, fire extent and fire severity through time. Historically, the Clover Mountains were dominated by frequent (<10 year mean return interval), low severity fires. Fires were often large, with half the fire events scarring greater than 10% of recorder trees. Visual and ecological evidence on the landscape suggests the 1946 fire may have been a high severity event. Fires have not been recorded in sampled trees since 1946. Human fire suppression activities may be the cause of this fire gap in the last 60 years, which suggests the Clover Mountains are moving outside their historic range of variability.