Timbered Rock Reforestation, Stand Development, and Fuels Study:
Vegetation Dynamics and Fire Hazard in Experimental Mixed-species Restoration Plantings in Southwestern Oregon
Issue: Scientific evaluation is needed of compatibilities among management activities to meet ecosystem restoration and fire risk objectives
Recent large-scale fire events exceed in size and severity the historical fire regime for many areas of the western United States. Postfire restoration objectives frequently include the rapid reestablishment of forest vegetative communities including trees to reduce soil erosion, to promote habitat development, or to enhance productivity. A concurrent objective may be to mitigate future fire risk by managing fuels. Through its influence on the developmental trajectory of vegetation composition and structure, restoration management will directly affect the development of fuels profiles and fire risk.
Research: Evaluation of postwildfire reforestation treatments to regulate vegetation composition and structure, and fuels and fire risk.
A replicated field experiment is being conducted to evaluate a variety of reforestation prescriptions representing a range of restoration management objectives and intensities. Experimental factors include natural versus planted regeneration, species composition of planted conifers, planting density, control of competing vegetation and planting site environment. Monitored responses include temporal dynamics of composition, size, and abundance of bryophyte, herbaceous, shruband tree vegetation; duff, litter and coarse wood dynamics; and residual overstory growth and snag recruitment. Observed fuels profiles are being assessed by modeling fire intensity and rate of spread under different weather scenarios.
Location: Timbered Rock Fire, Elk Creek Watershed, Jackson County, Oregon
The 2002 Timbered Rock fire burned 27,000 acres of high- and low-elevation forests of intermixed federal and private ownership about 20 miles northeast of Medford, Oregon. The Oregon and California Railroad Revested Lands are primarily managed for late-successional and old-growth habitats. Private lands are managed for timber production. The study is focused on areas burned at moderate and high severity.
Duration: Initial phase 2004-2008; Long-term monitoring through 2025
- Severely burned forest has been rapidly reoccupied by vegetation
- Developing plant communities differ depending on location characteristics such as orientation to the sun and steepness of slope
- Natural regeneration of conifer trees consists predominantly ofa single-species, Douglas-fir, and the abundance of natural regeneration differs greatly among sites
- Planted seedlings of four conifer tree species have shown moderate to high survival and have grown to be about twice as large as the naturally seeded trees
- Cutting of shrubs to remove competition from planted seedlings has not resulted in the loss of those shrub species from the sites or decreased the diversity of the developing plant communities
- Fuel loads are being altered by shrub cutting treatments and bythe falling of fire-killed trees
Principal Investigator: Paul D. Anderson, PNW Research Station
Resource Management and Productivity Program, 3200 SW Jefferson Way, Corvallis, Oregon 97331 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 541.758.7786
Partners: USDI Bureau of Land Management; Oregon State University
John Bergin, USDI Bureau of Land Management, Medford, Oregon
Klaus Puettmann, Professor, Department of Forest Science, Oregon State University