USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Research Station
Pacific Southwest
Research Station

800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710-0011
(510) 883-8830
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.

Research Topics Ecosystem Processes

^ Main Topic | Tropical Ecosystems | Sierra Nevada Ecosystems


Kings River Project

The Research

The Kings River Project was implemented in 1994 with an initial dedication of 26,000 ha (64,000 acres) now expanded to the full Dinkey Creek and Big Creek watersheds of 61,000 ha (150,000 acres). The Project's objective is to create a sustainable forest ecosystem that supports desired forest activities. It is a joint effort of the Sierra National Forest, the High Sierra Ranger District, and the Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW). In 2002 an intra-agency agreement was signed to continue this adaptive management study for at least 50 years.

The Sierra National Forest develops the silvicultural and fuels management plans for the full landscape; a companion poster describes the historic forest stand structures and processes that help guide the design of vegetation manipulations. PSW develops cause and effect research experiments (see pictures) that are embedded within the matrix of the working forest. The research study areas range in size from small plots such as 2 ha for small mammals, to 40 ha for forest birds, up to landscapes (50-100 ha watersheds and 120-240 ha owl areas).

Forest Management Treatments
Prescribed Fire Treatment
Mechanical Thinning


Terrestrial Salamanders
Experimental Watershed
Small Mammals
Forest Birds
Remote Sensing of Forest Structure  
California Spotted Owl


Methods and Design

The management tools being evaluated are prescribed fire and uneven-aged thinning of trees with small group selection (0.2 - 0.8 ha or 0.5 - 2 acres). The management approach includes the following.

· A 200-year rotation with about 0.5 percent of the land area harvested each year

· Maintenance of older trees, large snags, and large woody debris throughout the landscape, along with a mosaic of vegetation types and ages

· A landscape mosaic that mimics the historical distribution of vegetation resulting from frequent, low-intensity fires prevalent before European settlement

· Returning frequent, low-intensity fires to the landscape

· Commercial timber harvest

Application of Research Results


The Project is in the Sierra Nevada portion of the San Joaquin River drainage basin near Fresno, specifically on the North Fork of the Kings River. Vegetation is primarily mixed-conifer, ponderosa pine, and hardwoods. Considerable timber harvest has taken place on both watersheds.

Lead Scientists/Collaborators

1)Hunsaker, Carolyn; 2) Keane, John J.; 1) Purcell, Kathyrn

1)USDA Forest Service, PSW Research Station
Sierra Nevada Research Center
2081 E. Sierra Avenue
Fresno, CA 93710
ph: 559-323-3200
fax: 559-297-3355

2)USDA Forest Service, PSW Research Station
Sierra Nevada Research Center
1731 Research Park Drive
Davis, CA 95618
ph: 530-759-1704
fax: 530-747-0241

Publications and Reports

Kings River Project: Links betweeen landscape condition and survival and reproduction of fishers in the Kings River Experimental Range.

Kings River Project: California Spotted Owl Module Study Plan

Kings River Experimental Watershed Study Plan

Last Modified: Apr 19, 2011 08:04:16 PM