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Héen Latinee Experimental Forest

Introduction

Héen Latinee Experimental Forest was established on June 25, 2009, as a site for coastal temperate rainforest research. The 25,595-acre forest is located 37 miles north of Juneau, Alaska, inside Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, part of the largest temperate rain forest in the world. Héen 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 temperate rain forests on the shores of Lynn Canal to alpine tundra bordering the Juneau Icefield.

 

Climate

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 spring. Snowfall accounts for more than 80 percent of the annual precipitation.

 

SoilsPlant habitats span the range from recently deglaciated valley to mature old growth reserves.

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. Major suborders include Cryent, Fluvent, Cryept, Humods, Cryods, Fibrist, Hemist, and Saprist. Wetlands are abundant, with peat bogs and forested wetlands comprising much of the area.

 

Vegetation

The experimental forest offers research sites along the entire continuum from alpine glacier to saltwater estuaries.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 canadensis), 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.

 

Valley bottom muskegs form distinct riparian zone habitats in some locations.Research

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, and river floodplains 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 and consequences.

 

CollaboratorsPeatlands are a dominant soil type in coastal temperate rainforests influencing biogeochemical cycles and carbon cycling along the entire gulf coast of Alaska.

The PNW Research Station is establishing partnerships and learning opportunities with the University of Alaska Southeast, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 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.

 

Facilities

Immediately after Héen Latinee Experimental Forest’s establishment, plans for its facilities and instrumentation began. Nearby laboratories, 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.

 

Contact Information
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
rtedwards@fs.fed.us

 

pnw > exforests > Héen Latinee

USDA Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Research Station
Last Modified:  Monday, 16 December 2013 at 14:18:57 CST


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