Successional Reserve Study
Large trees are an important element of
wildlife habitat in western forests. Some of these trees, and the animals
that use them, may be at risk from uncharacteristically severe disturbances
in areas where wildfire suppression and selective logging have altered
forest composition and structure.
At issue are the potential effects of different
study investigates the ecological and financial effects of
variable-intensity management in the Gotchen Late Successional Reserve
(LSR). The 15,000-acre
LSR was established in Washington State following adoption of the
Northwest Forest Plan. Structurally
complex “late successional forest” currently covers about 50% of
the LSR; the rest is younger or less-complex forest.
patterns and structures in the Gotchen LSR provide habitat for the
northern spotted owl (photo above), but also create conditions favorable
for western spruce budworm outbreaks and potentially severe wildfires.
This study compares the spatial patterns and total acres of forest
in late successional structure and in high fire threat resulting from
passive versus active management over time.
We use data from several sources to: 1) investigate historic,
current and expected future forest patterns and structures in the
Gotchen LSR, 2) simulate the effects of different management
treatments, 3) test for significant differences among the treatments,
and 4) evaluate net revenues expected from the treatments.
Findings: Our projections indicate
that, with no treatment, the area of the Gotchen LSR in high fire
threat will increase sharply over the next twenty years.
If fire threat reduction is a goal, it is easy to explore
potential treatment effects associated with different diameter limits
and management intensities. For
example, treating 10% of the LSR per decade, with or without the
ability to enter existing late successional forest, reduces the acres
in high fire threat in 2021 by 13% and 9% respectively, when compared
with no treatment (graph at left).
Directly treating old forest patches in the LSR might not be
necessary because projections indicate that fire behavior within them
is not of stand replacement severity.
Preliminary estimates of net revenues from fire threat
reduction treatments range from –$1,000 to +$1,400 per acre.
Contacts: Susan Stevens Hummel,(503-808-2084, firstname.lastname@example.org);
Jamie Barbour (503-808-2074, email@example.com).