The network of Experimental Forests were designated to provide a location, across the range of common forest types, where field research can be conducted by PSW scientists. Operations on the Experimental Forests are all done under the guidance and approval of the Research Station scientists in coordination with the National Forest.
Use of prescribed fire to reduce fuel buildup can be problematic because of air quality concerns, problems with weed invasions after fire, and fire induced loss of ecosystem carbon and soil nutrients. Research findings from studying fuel reduction alternatives at the forest-urban interface can help guide managerial decisions about fuel treatments.
Garden of Eden
Ponderosa pine is the most widely planted forest tree throughout California and southwest Oregon and is the usual reforestation species of choice following wildfire. The geographic abundance of ponderosa pine and and its capacity to respond quickly to treatment underscores an immense potential for meeting societal needs for fiber. This potential could reduce harvest pressures on natural forests. But managing plantations for sustainably higher yields requires a basic understanding of how it responds to release from competition, improved fertility, and freedom from insect pests. The Garden of Eden experiment was established in 1986 to help us understand the response potential of planted ponderosa pine when competition, fertility, and insect pests are controlled from establishment through crown closure.
Interdisciplinary Research on the Goosenest Adaptive Management Area
Little Horse Peak Research Project In the Goosenest Adaptive Management Area on the Klamath National Forest, the combined effects of fire suppression and differential cutting of pine have, over time, resulted in dense stands with a high proportion of white fir. The buildup of fuels including dense white fir understories has caused fire hazard to become so extreme that protection of remaining forest stands with late-successional attributes is virtually impossible. While many wildlife species have taken up residence in white fir infested pine forests, much of the habitat potential has been altered. Silvicultural treatments have the potential to accelerate development of late-successional attributes but the ecosystem responses to these treatments are untested.
Long Term Soil Productivity
The Long-Term Soil Productivity network of experiments began in 1989 as a "grass roots" proposal that grew to a national program of the USDA Forest Service. LTSP was founded to examine the long-term consequences of soil disturbance on fundamental forest productivity. The concept caught the imagination of others. Soon, partnerships and affiliations were forged among public and private sectors in the United States and Canada. Today, more than 100 LTSP and affiliated sites comprise the world's largest coordinated research network addressing basic and applied science issues of forest management and sustained productivity. Studies range from elucidating mechanisms controlling carbon capture above and below ground, to developing indices of soil quality practicable in monitoring.