Elk County, Pennsylvania
The Kane Experimental Forest is located on the Allegheny National Forest
about 7 miles southeast of Kane, PA. The 1,737 acres of forest land that
comprises the experimental forest were designated for research use in 1930.
The forest is currently managed by the staff of the Forestry Sciences Laboratory
in Warren, Pa where research is focused on understanding and managing forest
ecosystems of the Allegheny Plateau Region.
Since the establishment of the Kane Experimental
Forest in 1930, research has been conducted continuously on the forest.
Researchers active at the Experimental Forest have included Ashbel Hough,
Ted Grisez, Ben Roach and Dave Marquis, who provided guidelines for forest
managers from the 30s through the present. The Kane Experimental Forest
has been the site of Allegheny Hardwood Silviculture Training Sessions
annually since 1978. During these weeklong sessions, scientists conducting
research present their results in the form of forest management guidelines
to natural resource managers from around the region and around the world.
The Kane Experimental Forest ranges in
elevation from about 1800 to 2100 feet above sea level, primarily on
flat to gently sloping land. The Wolf Run and Ackerman Run drainages
cross the Experimental Forest, as do the Mill Creek and Twin Lakes trails.
The climate of the Kane Experimental
Forest is humid temperate. Annual rainfall is about 45", of which an
average of 4" per month falls during the growing season. The average
annual temperature is 43 degrees F. Overcast days are frequent, reducing
transpirational demand on plants.
The forest soils on the Plateau are derived
from shales and sandstones. In general, they are very stony and extremely
stony loams and sandy loams. They are strongly acid. The major soil series
are the well-drained Hazelton series, the moderately well-drained to
somewhat poorly-drained Cookport series, and the somewhat poorly-drained
The forest stands on the Experimental
Forest are typcal of the Allegheny Plateau. They resulted from a series
of cuttings made in the original hemlock-beech-maple stands. The first
cutting, made in the mid-to late 1800s, removed the hemlock and the best
hardwood trees to supply the local tanneries and sawmills. Most of the
remaining hardwoods were cut between 1890 and 1925, but a few stands
were clearcut as late as 1937. Trees of nearly all sizes were removed
in the later cuts; large trees were used for sawtimber products, while
small trees were destructively distilled for charcoal and wood chemical
Today, the Kane Experimental Forest contains
second growth stands ranging from 60 to about 100 years of age, a few
third-growth stands 20 or 40 years old, and one tract containing remnant
old growth. Most stands are even-aged in character, although they may
actually contain several age classes because of the previous sequence
of cuttings. The most common tree species are black cherry, the maples
and beech; but many other species are present: yellow and sweet birch,
eastern hemlock, cucumbertree, yellow-popular, white ash and others.
Beech and striped maple seedlings dominate the understory of many unmanaged
stands, joined by black cherry and black birch in managed stands These
forest stands represent the Allegheny hardwood, or black cherry-maple,
northern hardwood, including hemlock-hardwood and beech-birch-maple,
and upland hardwood, or red maple-dominated, forest types.
Several species of ferns, grasses, goldenrod,
and aster occur in abundance as ground covers. Common spring ephemerals
include trout lily, dwarf ginseng, and spring beauties. Wildlife species
observed on the Experimental Forest include white-tailed deer, wild turkey,
black-throated green warblers, hermit thrushes, deer mice, chipmunks,
red-backed salamanders, and wood frogs. The wildlife communities are
typical of those found in managed second-growth forests of the Allegheny
Information on climate can be obtained
from the records of weather station maintained on the Experimental Forest.
Climate data were collected for studies in the 1930s, and a weather station
near forest headquarters was one of the first created as part of the
National Acid Deposition Program monitoring network in 1978. Additional
facilities were added in the late 1980s as part of a network to monitor
ozone levels in rural settings.
In addition, researchers at the Northeastern
Forest Experiment Station in Warren, PA, who administer the forest, maintain
computerized stand development records for more than a dozen long-term
research studies, including several with continuous records from the
1930s through the present. Many of these study records include periodic
photographs from permanent photo point.
EXAMPLES OF RESEARCH
Most research on the Forest consists
of relatively long-term studies. During the Civilian Conservation Corps
(CCC) days of the Thirties, studies of forest growth and development
were initiated here. Information from this early work has made important
contributions to the present research program, and many of these long-term
study areas are still yielding valuable information. This early research
defined the silvical characteristics of key species of the second growth
Allegheny hardwood, or cherry-maple, forest. They also included provenance
tests of red pine and black cherry.
Thinning research initiated on the Kane
Experimental Forest in 1972 by Ben Roach led to the development of thinning
guidelines widely used in the Allegheny hardwood type. Roach and later
Dave Marquis, Rich Ernst and Susan Stout used data from these studies
and others to develop the first tools for assessing forest stocking that
take into account species composition. The data also served as the basis
for the development of the growth and yield portions of SILVAH, an early
computerized decision support system still widely used for forest management.
Studies of the environmental factors
affecting the natural regeneration of Allegheny hardwoods were begun
in 1971. The efects of light, heat, and moisture were investigated to
evaluate the contribution of each to the establishment and growth of
tree seedlings, shrubs, ferns and grasses. Techniques included cutting,
roto-tilling, irrigation, bending overstory trees, trenching, heating
cables, fertilization and shading. These studies led to detailed guidelines
for the use of shelterwood cutting to develop advance regeneration in
Allegheny hardwood forests. Other regeneration studies conducted by Steve
Horsley showed that hay-scented and New York fern interfered with the
development of seedlings of desirable hardwood species, and led to the
development of herbicide-shelterwood prescriptions.
Overall, the Northeastern Forest Experiment
Station research team that maintains and administers the Kane Experimental
Research today conducts research on three problems: regeneration and
forest renewal, stand dynamics and silviculture, and sugar maple decline.
Most of the research on the Kane Experimental Forest is focused on the
stand dynamics and silviculture research problem.
Recently, Dave Marquis and Rich Ernst
analyzed data from the Kane's long-term thinning studies to produce guidelines
for residual structure as well as density in thinning, and Chris Nowak
used them to show how differential species responses to thinning in mixed
stands could explain the apparent variability of the growth/density relationship.
Steve Horsley, Todd Ristau, and Chris
Nowak have used data from a weeding study established on the Kane Experimental
Forest in 1936 to assess the long-term impact of pin cherry and silvicultural
cleanings on stand development. Measurement of tree grade in plots that
received different treatments in the thirties are now underway to determine
whether such differences can be attributed to precommercial treatments.
In 1980, John Bjorkbom established an
80-year study of stand development patterns under five different silvicultural
systems: even-age, two-age, and three variants of uneven-age. Susan Stout
anlyzed results from the first ten years of growth to show the importance
of advance regeneration in determining the outcome of all silvicultural
Although there is no formal wildlife
habitat assessment research currently underway on the Kane Experimental
Forest, it is the summer base for crews assessing the response of songbird,
small mammal, and reptile/amphibian communities in many of the research
team's studies across the Allegheny plateau region.
FACILITIES AND ADMINISTRATION
The headquarters of the Experimental
Forest provides an office for the forest manager, a conference room for
meetings and training sessions and temporary quarters for visiting scientists
and students working on the forest. The office facilities are open year
round, while living accommodations are generally available from about
May 1 through October 15. The residential facilities are adequate to
provide rustic accommodations for a college class for a field trip, or
longer term quarters for up to 5 residents.
The Kane Experimental Forest is within
the Southern District of the Allegheny National Forest. Personnel of
the Ranger District provide road maintenance and environmental assessment
and administration of experimental treatments. The manager of the Kane
Experimental Forest, an employee of the Research Work Unit in Warren,
PA, is on the forest throughout the year.
The Kane Experimental Forest is on the
eastern edge of the Allegheny National Forest, 3.5 miles south of Kane,
PA. Main access is from Pennsylvania Route 321 or the Highland-Lamont
Road, via Forest Service Road 138.