Castle Mound Pine Forest State Natural Area (CMPF) is a 48-ha reserve at the confluence of the Driftless Area and Central Sand Plains of Wisconsin. Here, we report the first tree-ring—based fire history study for central Wisconsin and examine the relationships among fire, forest structure and composition, and historical land use at the site. We crossdated 12 fire-scar samples from Pinus resinosa stumps and inventoried and cored 83 trees along four transects to quantify the fire history, forest composition, and forest age structure at the site. The fire history data span the years 1788–2006 and include 15 years when trees were scarred by a fire on the site. Most fire scars were recorded in the earlywood of the recording growth ring, suggesting spring or early summer fires. The mean fire return interval for the site was six years when calculated between the first fire in 1841 and the last fire in 1923. The time-since-fire at the time of our study was 91 years. The canopy of the site was dominated by P. resinosa, individuals of which represent the oldest trees on the site. The subcanopy and recent age structure was dominated by mesic species, indicating that the forest at CMPF is transitioning away from the historical dominance by P. resinosa to a more closed forest following the cessation of fire at the site. Our data highlight an opportunity to establish ecological baseline data for this area to inform fire management and restoration activities.
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Vol. 37 • No. 3