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Tenderfoot Creek Experimental Forest
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Tenderfoot Research Project

Thinning treatments in the Sun Creek drainage
Aerial photograph of thinning treatments imposed in the Sun Creek drainage

Research emphasis on the forest was expanded in 1991 to develop and evaluate ecosystem-based treatments for sustaining productivity and biodiversity of lodgepole pine forests and watersheds. The Tenderfoot Research Project was developed to take a multi-disciplinary approach to evaluating ecosystem-based treatments in lodgepole pine stands. Treatments will serve as demonstration sites where the public can view new management alternatives.


Objectives for the Tenderfoot Research Project are to:

  • Evaluate and quantify the ecological and biological effects of alternative silvicultural treatments and prescribed fire in lodgepole pine forests by creating reserve stand structures that emulate those created by natural disturbances.
  • Evaluate damage to reserve trees relative to alternative stand densities and structures and examine regeneration and understory vegetation changes associated with alternative silvicultural treatments.
  • Develop linkages between vegetation management activities and hydrologic responses at the sub-watershed level.
  • Manage and integrate the knowledge gained from the variety of studies at Tenderfoot Creek Experimental Forest to improve ecosystem-based management in lodgepole pine forests.
  • Develop demonstration sites for education of the general public, students, professional, and researchers.
  • Test and verify hydrologic and vegetation models and evaluate harvest costs and product recovery values associated with alternative silvicultural prescriptions and harvest systems.
  • Contribute to the scientific knowledge through publication of results in appropriate outlets.
  • Integrate knowledge gained from these studies into ecosystem management guidelines (see Management guide to ecosystem restoration treatments: two-aged lodgepole pine forests of central Montana, USA) that enhance the function and sustainability of lodgepole pine forests in the Northern Rockies through a variety of technology transfer products.

Opportunities for research at Tenderfoot Creek abound for those interested in evaluating new techniques and options for managing lodgepole pine communities in the northern Rockies including fuels management, vegetation response and development following harvesting, prescribed burning, water production, water quality, and associated ecological processes.

If interested in conducting research at the Tenderfoot Creek Experimental Forest, please contact:


Safety is the #1 priority of the US Forest Service. If conducting research at Tenderfoot Creek, please review the following saftey protocols:

Current Collaborators

Current collaborators at Tenderfoot Creek include: