Pacific Northwest Research Station
1220 SW 3rd Ave.
Portland, OR 97204
Héen Latinee Experimental Forest
Héen Latinee Experimental Forest was established on June
25, 2009, as a site for coastal temperate rainforest research. The 25,595-acre
is located 37 miles north of Juneau, Alaska, inside Alaska’s Tongass
National Forest, part of the largest temperate rain forest in the world.
Latinee reaches from ridge to reef, from glacier to estuary, over a short
distance, allowing for studies crossing many different landscape types.
This unique environmental cross section spans the elevational range, from
rain forests on the shores of Lynn Canal to alpine tundra bordering the
Héen Latinee has a temperate rain forest climate characteristic
of higher latitudes, with cold, wet winters and cool, wet summers. Monthly
average temperature ranges from -4.4 °C (24 °F) in January to 13.3 °C
(56 °F) in July. Average annual precipitation is about 290 cm
(115 inches), with high rates in the fall and lower rates in the
Snowfall accounts for more than 80 percent of the annual precipitation.
The entire range of ecosystems and associated soils found on the
Tongass National Forest occurs within Héen Latinee. Major
soil orders include Entisols, Inceptisols, Spodosols, and Histosols.
include Cryent, Fluvent, Cryept, Humods, Cryods, Fibrist, Hemist,
and Saprist. Wetlands are abundant, with peat bogs and forested
comprising much of the area.
Trees. Héen Latinee Experimental Forest is dominated at
low elevations by temperate rain forest tree species, principally
western hemlock (Tsuga
heterophylla) and Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) with mountain hemlock
(Tsuga mertensiana) interspersed. There also are sedge meadows, alpine
meadows, riparian corridors, muskegs, alpine and subalpine communities,
rock talus slopes, alder thickets, and estuarine grass flats in the
area. Black cottonwood (Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa) grows
on the riparian
flood plain of the lower watershed and red alder (Alnus rubra) in
recently deglaciated and landslide areas.
Shrubs. Blueberry and huckleberry
(Vaccinium spp.), Sitka alder (Alnus
viridis ssp. sinuata), and devil’s club (Oplopanax horridus) are
common shrubs in the forested communities of Héen Latinee. The
forest floor is habitat for a variety of plants, such as dogwood (Cornus
single delight (Moneses uniflora), false lily-of-the-valley (Maianthemum
dilatatum), bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), five-leaf bramble (Rubus
pedatus), and skunkcabbage (Lysichiton americanus).
Mosses and Lichens. Because of Héen Latinee’s high
rainfall and resulting high humidity, a great variety of mosses grow in profusion
on the ground, on fallen logs, on the lower trunks and branches of trees,
and in forest openings. Hundreds of epiphytic lichen species can also be
found on tree trunks and branches, especially in old-growth forests, riparian
areas, and maritime beach fringe forests. Grass and sedge meadows usually
lie at low elevations, often along the coast and slopes of hills and mountains.
Héen Latinee contains many of the common mainland landscape
elements and ecosystem subtypes found in southeast Alaska. Glaciers, alpine
ridgetops, a variety of extensive wetland types, old-growth forests,
all occur in the watershed, offering many potential research opportunities.
Research at the site will combine fundamental measures of hydrology and
climate with focused studies on emerging issues such as climate change.
Basic information on hydrology such as canopy interception, soil moisture,
evapotranspiration, and seasonal discharge patterns is needed to calibrate
models and predict changing vegetation patterns. High resolution data on
rainfall and climate variability with elevation will be generated to fill
important gaps in our understanding of heterogeneity. Additional research
studies at Héen Latinee will investigate how climate change affects
a variety of forest-related resources, including timber, carbon sequestration
and dissolved carbon flux from land to ocean margins, salmon habitat and
production, and recreational opportunities and their environmental needs
The PNW Research Station is establishing partnerships and learning
opportunities with the University of Alaska Southeast, University of
local schools, native tribes, Alaska Department of Fish and Game,
the Fish and Wildlife Service and other federal agencies, and the City
and Borough of Juneau.
Immediately after Héen Latinee Experimental Forest’s
establishment, plans for its facilities and instrumentation began. Nearby
offices, and classrooms at the station’s Juneau Forestry Sciences
Laboratory and University of Alaska Southeast campus will minimize
the need for onsite construction.
Accessibility. Access to Juneau, Alaska, is only possible by boat or plane;
no connecting roads to interior Alaska or Canada exist. Héen Latinee
is accessible by vehicle from Juneau, as a paved road goes right by it
that cuts across the lower end of the watershed. Juneau has a commercial
jet airport and a state-supported ferry system linking the city to the
State of Washington. Primary access to the forest is from downtown Juneau
on Egan Highway that goes north 48 to 64 km (30 to 40 miles) to its end
at Echo Cove. The entrance to the experimental forest is located on the
south side of the road just past the Cowee Creek Bridge. Access to high-elevation
areas is by helicopter or hiking. Winter travel from late November to early
May requires snowshoes, skis, snowmobiles, and a snowcat as necessary.
Richard T. Edwards
Pacific Northwest Research Station
Juneau Forestry Sciences Laboratory
2770 Sherwood Lane, Suite 2A
Juneau, AK 99801-8545
(907) 586-8811, ext. 269 email@example.com