100 Years of Experimental Forest
Celebrating the First 100 Years of Experimental Forest
Research has been occurring on the Forest Service's experimental forests and ranges for 100 years. This national network consists of 81 sites for long-term science and management studies across the country. Nearly every forest and ecosystem type in the United States and Puerto Rico is represented in the network.
Dubbed "lands for learning," experimental forests and ranges are set aside specifically for short- and long-term research. Researchers can establish experiments on these lands that may require decades or even centuries to run their course. These living laboratories become prime sites for collaboration, facilitating research-management partnerships among the national and state forests that host them, state agencies, universities, and other research institutions. These partners are central to the success of experimental forests and ranges, contributing staff and funding for studies and research facilities and sponsoring many important outreach activities, like field tours and workshops.
The Pacific Northwest Research Station celebrated the centennial with a day-long event at Wind River Experimental Forest, the station's oldest experimental forest. It was home to the region's first tree nursery,established in 1909, and site of the first permanent tree growth plots west of the Mississippi River. Today, Wind River is known as the "cradle of forestry research in the Pacific Northwest." Wind River's scientists pioneered many silvicultural practices still used today.
Two New Experimental Forests Join Network
The station also marked the centennial by bringing two new experimental forests into the national network.
Héen Latinee Experimental Forest
Héen Latinee Experimental Forest, 25,000 acres within the Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska, spans glacial to marine environments over a short distance, allowing for studies crossing many different landscape types. The site provides opportunities for research on how coastal temperate rain forests function, particularly amid a changing climate.
The name "Héen Latinee" is a Tlingit phrase meaning "River Watcher." It was given to the experimental forest by a group of Tlingit elders whose traditional territory encompassed the area. The name honors and acknowledges the Tlingit as the traditional custodians of the land and also reflects the purpose of this experimental forest—a place for watching natural processes unfold and for learning through experiments. Partnerships with the University of Alaska Southeast, the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, local schools, native tribes, other federal agencies, and the City of Juneau will lead to a variety of learning opportunities.
Olympic Experimental State Forest
A memorandum of understanding between the station andWashington Department of Natural Resources added asecond new experimental forest to the Forest Service's national network. About 20 people attended the signing,including landowners, tribal and local government representatives,and congressional staff. The Olympic Experimental State Forest comprises 260,000 acres on Washington's OlympicPeninsula. It is now the largest site in the national network and the only representative of the Olympic Peninsula temperate rain forest ecosystem type, which is known for its extreme rainfall and growth rates. The state trust land will continue to be managed by the Washington Department of Natural Resources as a working forest, and the station will coordinate the research opportunities.