USDA Forest Service
 

Pacific Southwest Research Station

 

Pacific Southwest Research Station
800 Buchanan Street
West Annex Building
Albany, CA 94710-0011

(510) 559-6300

United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.

Silvicultural Prescriptions to Restore Forest Health

Full title: Silvicultural prescriptions to restore forest health

Proposal

Lead Researchers: Patricia N. Manley and Malcolm North, US Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station; Dennis D. Murphy and T. Will Richardson, University of Nevada

Abstract

Many uncertainties exist in the effects and effectiveness of fuel treatment prescriptions being planned in the Lake Tahoe basin on various forest health objectives. In the basin, forest health objectives include restoring a greater proportion of the landscape to old forest conditions, restoring forest composition (e.g., greater predominance of Jeffrey pine), structure (e.g., more open forest structure and multi-aged forests), conserving and restoring biological diversity, and reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire. The lack of information combined with the urgency to act is potentially forming a perfect storm in the Lake Tahoe basin, where extensive treatments are planned over a short period of time (5-10 years), thereby creating the opportunity for significant unforeseen negative ecological consequences. Fuel treatments are typically designed to reduce crown bulk density and canopy contagion, resulting in the remaining trees having a fairly regular spacing. Historical records indicate that forests with an active fire regime had clustered tree spacing with gaps and heterogeneous understory plant cover. This study will design and test a silvicultural prescription that leaves a clustered distribution of trees that more closely mimics historical distributions while also reducing fuels to determine the benefits gained in ecological restoration and the sacrifices made in altering fire behavior. It will also test the relative effects of the two prominent slash treatments: pile and burn and mastication. We will examine the interaction of two overstory (regular canopy tree spacing [fire emphasis] and clustered tree retention [restoration emphasis]) and two understory (mastication and pile and burn) treatments and a control on measures of forest function (vegetation, soil properties, truffles), biological diversity (birds, small mammals, ants, invertebrates), and habitat and prey for key wildlife species of special concern (Northern Goshawk [Accipiter gentilis], California Spotted Owl [Strix occidentalis], and American marten [Martes americana]). A factorial design will be used to test overstory and understory treatment effects on forest functions, biological diversity and select prey species. Sampling will use a Before-After-Control-Impact (BACI) design, with clustered treatment (n = 4) and control (n = 1) sites. The cluster of five sites will be implemented within a similar set of environmental conditions, and then replicated in at least 4 different locations, for a total of 20 sample sites.

Expected date of final products: September 2013.
Progress Report available for download

Schedule of milestones and deliverables

The project is underway and is scheduled to continue until September 2013.

Del # Task # Deliverable/Task Start Date End Date
1   Contract or Agreement May 2009 Jun 2010
a Establish agreement with UN Reno
2   Project plan including budget allocation Jun 2009 Dec 2009
a Site selection: Work with CTC, USFS, NDF, and CASP to select sample sites, including which treatments will be conducted at which sites.
b Site descriptions: Build a site database and populate it with relevant ecological information available about each site available from remotely sensed data
3   Inventory/assessment/monitoring of biological communities and/or cultural resources May 2010 May 2013
a Conduct year 1 (pre-treatment) field data collection: hire field crews and collect all year 1 field data as described in methods (vegetation data at grid sites collected by USFS/UMT during the same time period)
b Conduct year 1 (pre-treatment) data entry and analysis: enter all field data into project database and conduct simple summaries of site characteristics.
c Conduct year 2 (1st year post-treatment) field data collection: hire field crews and collect all year 2 field data as described in methods (vegetation data at grid sites collected by USFS/UMT during the same time period)
d Enter all year 2 (first year post-treatment) field data into project database and conduct simple summaries of observed changes resulting from treatments and control site variability.
e Conduct year 3 (2nd year post-treatment)) data collection: hire field crews and collect all year 3 field data as described in methods (vegetation data at grid sites collected by USFS/UMT during the same time period)
f Conduct year 3 (2nd year post-treatment) data analysis: enter all field data into project database and conduct simple summaries of observed changes resulting from treatments and control site variability.
4   Scientific reports, systems, or related products Jan 2011  Sep 2013
a Prepare interim report of year 1 findings Jan 15, 2011 Mar 15, 2011
b Prepare interim report of year 2 findings Jan 15, 2012 Mar 15, 2012
c Final data analysis: conduct final analysis of relationships between burn intensity, treatment, and biodiversity responses Jan 15, 2013 May 15, 2013
d Prepare final report and make findings available to all interested parties. May 15, 2013 Jul 15, 2013
e Prepare and submit manuscripts for publication to peer reviewed journal Jul 15, 2013 Sep 15, 2013
5   Outreach/training Jul 2009 Jul 2013
a Submit brief progress report to Tahoe Science Program coordinator by the 1st of July, October, January, and April
b Present findings from year 1 to interested parties and through local symposium opportunities Mar 15, 2011 May 1, 2011
c Present findings from year 2 to interested parties and through local symposium opportunities Mar 15, 2012 May 1, 2012
d Present and discuss final findings to interested parties and through local symposium opportunities May 15, 2013 Jul 15, 2013
Last Modified: Mar 28, 2013 02:52:07 PM