Title page for ETD etd-05132011-123335

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Bernier, Robert Michael
URN etd-05132011-123335
Title Pilot Validation of VSMOKE with Implications for Smoke Management Regulations
Degree Master of Science
Department Forestry
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Prisley, Stephen P. Committee Co-Chair
Zedaker, Shepard M. Committee Co-Chair
Marr, Linsey C. Committee Member
  • Prescribed Burning
  • Regulations
  • Validation
  • Smoke Management
Date of Defense 2011-04-29
Availability restricted
Prescribed burning (Rx) has become increasingly subjected to various regulations. Among these regulations are ordinances that restrict downwind impacts of smoke from prescribed fires. Regulations can severely limit burn managers and private landowners from using Rx as a forest management tool. This research can help us move away from these simplistic regulations, and help promote a regulatory environment in which scientific tools and knowledge are used to prohibit only activities for which the evidence suggests there will be adverse consequences.

This research was divided into three parts that consisted of: (1) a pilot validation of the smoke emission model VSMOKE-GIS; (2) review of southeastern states’ smoke management guidelines (SMG); and (3) a geographic analysis of Virginian’s current SMG. VSMOKE-GIS showed good accuracy in predicting the PM2.5 concentration and location of the smoke plume downwind. Criteria were identified when managing Rx smoke and the strengths, weaknesses, and implications were discussed of the Rx programs. The geographic analysis demonstrated quantitatively how much area may be impacted with minimal apparent benefit. This research should provide a clearer spatial picture of the smoke management barriers associated with Rx on private woodlands in Virginia. These results should be a useful tool in developing a regulatory environment that encourages Rx when the conditions are optimal. We conclude with future recommendations for Virginia.

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