Fire in the Urban Forest Project

Rangeland and cattle
Rangeland and cattle
Fire in the Urban Forest Project

The Fire in the Urban Forest Project was developed as an educational resource that can be used to understand the historical and modern role of fire in the deciduous forests that are located in and around urban environments. Fire has often been viewed as a destructive force in forests that needs to be prevented. However, many deciduous forests have a long history of fire and the absence of fire can lead to multiple tradeoffs that negatively impact forest health.

Fontenelle Forest, located in Omaha, Nebraska, is just one of the locations where fire is being used to improve forest health in a metropolitan area. Learn more about the historical purpose of fire and the reasons for restoring it in oak forests by using the resources provided below.

Historical Oak Forest. These images were taken in the early 1900's in Fontenelle Forest before fire suppression had converted the forest from a sparse to a dense state.

Oak Woodland Restoration in Omaha's Urban Forest

Contact Michelle Foss, Restoration Biologist at Fontenelle Forest, to discuss the role of fire and its importance for maintaining the health of Omaha's urban forest.

Want to learn more? Check out additional resources below that were developed by undergraduate students at the University of Nebraska.

Student Projects

Student project Download Mesophication by Colton Boesch (PDF file)
Baby Oaks
Student project Download Baby Oaks by Adam Romans (PDF file)

Want to see what fire can do? Check out this invasive species field guide for Fontenelle Forest to see which invasive plants can be controlled by fire.

Print the guide and search Fontenelle Forest yourself for the different invasive species. Is fire management in Fontenelle helping to control invasive species?

Want to actively participate in forest restoration? If you find invasive species in locations not indicated on the field guide maps, tell Fontenelle Forest staff! YOU can help staff monitor the spread of invasive species in Fontelle Forest!

What do controlled fires look like?

Forest professionals returning fire to the oak forests on Indian Cave State Park in Nebraska to restore structure and function to the woodland.

Forest professionals conducting a prescribed fire in Indian Cave State Park in Nebraska.

Forest professionals conducting a prescribed fire in Ponca Oak woodland in Nebraska.

Want to Learn More?

Check out the Field Museum in Chicago to see the exhibit on restoring native habitat in Chicago's urban forests with prescribed fire.