Ecological Forestry Field Trip: HJ Andrews Experimental Forest,

May 7 and 8, 2013

Field Stop Information

Stop #1:   ~15  year old private industry plantation adjacent to a USFS ½ acre gap.    The private plantation was clearcut, yarded downhill, broadcast burned, planted, and fertilized.  The USFS gap was created in the summer of 2010 through clearcutting using ground based logging.  It was not planted or broadcast burned.  The stand directly to the east is a FS commercial thin, logged using downhill yarding.

Questions for stop:  Are both of these units early seral forest?  What could have been done differently to increase the quality?  Are these big enough to function as habitat?  Who would live here?  How long will these patches serve as early seral habitat?  How much of this habitat is needed on a landscape?  How do these compare early seral forest created by natural disturbances?

Observations, discussions comments by the group: The purposeful USFS gap showed more early seral characteristics than the adjacent clearcut, although it was not initially intended as an early seral experiment.  It appeared to have more diversity in vegetation. Wild strawberry was observed, a classic early seral indicator. Clearcuts do not create true early seral habitat. The discussion turned to old growth (OG). For Franklin and Johnson, OG is off the table as far as eco-forestry approaches; there is general agreement that trees over 200 years are considered old growth; 120-200 years in the eye of the beholder. Why is there need to define it? At different ages there are different plant communities; there are different benefits at different ages. What is the goal of eco –forestry? Creating quality early seral habitat.  Goals of the activity need to be well thought out before developing action. At FS and BLM, old growth is off the table, on moist forests, keep old growth stands.

Lisa H noted that there is only 2% true early seral on the Williamette NF; need to do a scale analysis to determine the threshold. There seems to be a need for more early seral habitat for early seral species like butterflies and moths. Early seral is complicated; species that populate it are opportunistic; the stage happens quickly; species that use it are highly mobile and use more than one habitat type.

Gap size was discussed – how big does a gap need to be effective? There is a huge range. Need to consider what is socially acceptable as well as scientifically/ecologically. Size is species specific. Small gaps are not good for some species. It was reported that Peter Frenzen (Mt St. Helens) thinks 20 hecters is a good gap. Need to look at how much there is across a watershed. Need a full suite of habitat types; create a mosaic with lots of niches.

Cheryl noted that a study of gaps in riparian reserves is starting. More light can bring in more productivity to stream system.

F&J think fire should be used in eco-forestry because some seed sources are released through fire.

There is a 20-50% loss in yield using eco-forestry, varying from stand to stand. There is a trade off with not planting; F&J suggest planting at reduced volume.

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Stop #2:  This is a control unit in the Young Stand Thinning and Diversity Study.  It was an old growth stand clearcut in 1946; broadcast burned in 1946; planted in 1952, and pct’d in 1972.  It was fertilized in 1984.  It has not been commercially thinned.   

AGE:  ~66                    TPA:  250

ACRES:  129                ASPECT:  SSEE

SITE INDEX:  105         PLANT ASSOCIATION:  TSHE/MANE

Questions for stop:  What would drive an early seral forest prescription in this homogenous stand?  How would the trees respond?  How would the understory react?  What are the tradeoffs in leaving this un-thinned, vs. a thin prescription, vs. an ecological forestry prescription?   What options would be available for the future?  If openings are created in this stand, who would live there?  

Observations, comments, discussions by the group

Classic second growth DF stand.  Not a biological dessert even though homogeneous stand. Multiple bird species heard, lots of vine maple (some birds like).  What would Franklin and Johnson do to achieve early seral – cut and leave, don’t burn or burn portions purposefully? For any project, you need to start with considering your objectives – what do you want the future stand to look like.When thinning and large trees are left, the canopy closes more quickly, causing less diversity. Thinning is hard on flying squirrels; they should be designed to improve habitat for small mammals.

How large would a gap need to be to be effective in providing habitat? ¼ - 1 acre is not enough to create edge effect; at 2.5 acres vegetation is more different and center of gap provides for a wider array of critters. Larger openings increase prey habitat. Abe noted that BLM is finding nesting pairs of spotted owls (they still do spotted owl surveys) on the edge of openings and considered the possibility of creating more foraging habitat for spotted owls to provide for easier access to prey instead of just looking at maintaining OG.

A discussion about how to increase epicormic branching followed.

How can you achieve benefits to spotted owl and early seral species? Agencies are frequently shorted sighted – need to look into future 400 years. On GP we are treating less that ½% of land base. Early seral habitat is on the decline. Lack of bees is also an issue in early seral. Lisa Helmig is organizing an early seral list with species that use it and those that are in decline. Cheryl will forward it when it is completed.

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Stop #3:  This stand extends below the road and behind you to the ridgeline.   It is a natural stand ~105 years old.  The portion below the road was heavily thinned in 2011.  An unthinned area was left to protect a red tree vole site.  

BA pre 256      BA post 180

SDI pre  352    SDI post  218

TPA pre  109   TPA post  64  (>7”)

{additional RX info for treated area -- bonus info:  goal to maintain >40% canopy closure while reducing SDI to a range of 17-34% so that individual tree growth is accelerated while providing sunlight to the forest floor to stimulate an understory shrub component.   17’ DxD]

Questions for this stop:  What would drive an ecological forestry prescription in this diverse stand to create an early seral condition?  How would the retained trees respond?  How would the understory react?  What are the tradeoffs in leaving this un-treated, vs. a thin prescription, vs. an early seral prescription?   What options would be available for the future?  If openings are created in this stand, who would live there?   Will a heavy thin in these ~100 year old natural stands increase biodiversity in the understory?

Observations, comments, discussions by the group

There was little discussion here. On a previous tour, Jerry F. was not supportive of the project; thought the stand was good as it was. However, it could have been good for early seral development. Every stand is different. Need to use a simple framework. Abe noted stands are like colors on a pallet – every piece you can enhance improves diversity on forest.

Discussion about where 80 years for old growth age come from. Just a “bunch of guys” who threw it out there; there is not scientific basis for it.

 

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Stop #4:   This is a scenic overlook peering north across highway 126 and the McKenzie River. You will see a mix of USFS and private industrial forest lands.

Questions for this stop:  How do we manage for a variety of seral stages across a landscape?  Where is thinning the most appropriate prescription vs. creating early seral forest vs. no treatment?  What logic path drives distribution and composition across a landscape?

After a long day, the note taker was distracted by an interesting geological outcrop and flitting butterflies on the road cut and missed most of the conversation. The gist of it was that a landscape analysis is needed to determine what habitats are necessary to develop. Consider long term objectives and what the end goal should look like.

 

Participants in field trip at HJ Andrews:

Cheryl Friesen, HJ Andrews Experimental Forest liason

Joan Hager, PNW

Lisa Helmig, Williamette NF

Abe Wheeler, BLM forester

Craig Kintop, BLM forester

Shari Hildreth - WA Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler's Deputy Director

Miku Lenentine - Pinchot Partners board member, UW Forestry PhD student (social forestry)

Katherine Wyatt - UW Masters student - social forestry

Nate Ulrich - Mt Adams Resource Stewards and South Gifford Pinchot Collaborative (SGPC)

Tom Linde - Gifford Pinchot Accountability Group (GPAG) and SGPC

Paul Spencer - GPAG and SGPC

Norm Ward - GPAG and SGPC

Carol Chandler - Gifford Pinchot Wildlife biologist

Chandra LeGue - Oregon Wild

Jim White - Underwood Conservation District

Hannah Zentmeyer – GPTF intern

Jamie Tolfree - Coordinator SGPC and Pinchot Partners

Josh Laughlin - Cascadia Wildlands

Bob Dingethal - Gifford Pinchot Task Force E.D.