Elk County, Pennsylvania


     The Kane Experimental Forest is located on the Allegheny National Forest about 7 miles southeast of Kane, PA. The 1,737 acres of forest land that comprises the experimental forest were designated for research use in 1930. The forest is currently managed by the staff of the Forestry Sciences Laboratory in Warren, Pa where research is focused on understanding and managing forest ecosystems of the Allegheny Plateau Region.

     Since the establishment of the Kane Experimental Forest in 1930, research has been conducted continuously on the forest. Researchers active at the Experimental Forest have included Ashbel Hough, Ted Grisez, Ben Roach and Dave Marquis, who provided guidelines for forest managers from the 30s through the present. The Kane Experimental Forest has been the site of Allegheny Hardwood Silviculture Training Sessions annually since 1978. During these weeklong sessions, scientists conducting research present their results in the form of forest management guidelines to natural resource managers from around the region and around the world.

     The Kane Experimental Forest ranges in elevation from about 1800 to 2100 feet above sea level, primarily on flat to gently sloping land. The Wolf Run and Ackerman Run drainages cross the Experimental Forest, as do the Mill Creek and Twin Lakes trails.


     The climate of the Kane Experimental Forest is humid temperate. Annual rainfall is about 45", of which an average of 4" per month falls during the growing season. The average annual temperature is 43 degrees F. Overcast days are frequent, reducing transpirational demand on plants.


     The forest soils on the Plateau are derived from shales and sandstones. In general, they are very stony and extremely stony loams and sandy loams. They are strongly acid. The major soil series are the well-drained Hazelton series, the moderately well-drained to somewhat poorly-drained Cookport series, and the somewhat poorly-drained Cavode series.


     The forest stands on the Experimental Forest are typcal of the Allegheny Plateau. They resulted from a series of cuttings made in the original hemlock-beech-maple stands. The first cutting, made in the mid-to late 1800s, removed the hemlock and the best hardwood trees to supply the local tanneries and sawmills. Most of the remaining hardwoods were cut between 1890 and 1925, but a few stands were clearcut as late as 1937. Trees of nearly all sizes were removed in the later cuts; large trees were used for sawtimber products, while small trees were destructively distilled for charcoal and wood chemical products.

     Today, the Kane Experimental Forest contains second growth stands ranging from 60 to about 100 years of age, a few third-growth stands 20 or 40 years old, and one tract containing remnant old growth. Most stands are even-aged in character, although they may actually contain several age classes because of the previous sequence of cuttings. The most common tree species are black cherry, the maples and beech; but many other species are present: yellow and sweet birch, eastern hemlock, cucumbertree, yellow-popular, white ash and others. Beech and striped maple seedlings dominate the understory of many unmanaged stands, joined by black cherry and black birch in managed stands These forest stands represent the Allegheny hardwood, or black cherry-maple, northern hardwood, including hemlock-hardwood and beech-birch-maple, and upland hardwood, or red maple-dominated, forest types.

     Several species of ferns, grasses, goldenrod, and aster occur in abundance as ground covers. Common spring ephemerals include trout lily, dwarf ginseng, and spring beauties. Wildlife species observed on the Experimental Forest include white-tailed deer, wild turkey, black-throated green warblers, hermit thrushes, deer mice, chipmunks, red-backed salamanders, and wood frogs. The wildlife communities are typical of those found in managed second-growth forests of the Allegheny Plateau region.


     Information on climate can be obtained from the records of weather station maintained on the Experimental Forest. Climate data were collected for studies in the 1930s, and a weather station near forest headquarters was one of the first created as part of the National Acid Deposition Program monitoring network in 1978. Additional facilities were added in the late 1980s as part of a network to monitor ozone levels in rural settings.

     In addition, researchers at the Northeastern Forest Experiment Station in Warren, PA, who administer the forest, maintain computerized stand development records for more than a dozen long-term research studies, including several with continuous records from the 1930s through the present. Many of these study records include periodic photographs from permanent photo point.


Past Research

     Most research on the Forest consists of relatively long-term studies. During the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) days of the Thirties, studies of forest growth and development were initiated here. Information from this early work has made important contributions to the present research program, and many of these long-term study areas are still yielding valuable information. This early research defined the silvical characteristics of key species of the second growth Allegheny hardwood, or cherry-maple, forest. They also included provenance tests of red pine and black cherry.

     Thinning research initiated on the Kane Experimental Forest in 1972 by Ben Roach led to the development of thinning guidelines widely used in the Allegheny hardwood type. Roach and later Dave Marquis, Rich Ernst and Susan Stout used data from these studies and others to develop the first tools for assessing forest stocking that take into account species composition. The data also served as the basis for the development of the growth and yield portions of SILVAH, an early computerized decision support system still widely used for forest management.

     Studies of the environmental factors affecting the natural regeneration of Allegheny hardwoods were begun in 1971. The efects of light, heat, and moisture were investigated to evaluate the contribution of each to the establishment and growth of tree seedlings, shrubs, ferns and grasses. Techniques included cutting, roto-tilling, irrigation, bending overstory trees, trenching, heating cables, fertilization and shading. These studies led to detailed guidelines for the use of shelterwood cutting to develop advance regeneration in Allegheny hardwood forests. Other regeneration studies conducted by Steve Horsley showed that hay-scented and New York fern interfered with the development of seedlings of desirable hardwood species, and led to the development of herbicide-shelterwood prescriptions.

Current Research

     Overall, the Northeastern Forest Experiment Station research team that maintains and administers the Kane Experimental Research today conducts research on three problems: regeneration and forest renewal, stand dynamics and silviculture, and sugar maple decline. Most of the research on the Kane Experimental Forest is focused on the stand dynamics and silviculture research problem.

     Recently, Dave Marquis and Rich Ernst analyzed data from the Kane's long-term thinning studies to produce guidelines for residual structure as well as density in thinning, and Chris Nowak used them to show how differential species responses to thinning in mixed stands could explain the apparent variability of the growth/density relationship.

     Steve Horsley, Todd Ristau, and Chris Nowak have used data from a weeding study established on the Kane Experimental Forest in 1936 to assess the long-term impact of pin cherry and silvicultural cleanings on stand development. Measurement of tree grade in plots that received different treatments in the thirties are now underway to determine whether such differences can be attributed to precommercial treatments.

     In 1980, John Bjorkbom established an 80-year study of stand development patterns under five different silvicultural systems: even-age, two-age, and three variants of uneven-age. Susan Stout anlyzed results from the first ten years of growth to show the importance of advance regeneration in determining the outcome of all silvicultural systems.

     Chris Nowak and Jim Redding are testing the growth and development of Allegheny hardwood stands that have been treated with crop-tree, in contrast to area-wide, thinnings, in a study on the Kane Experimental Forest.

     Although there is no formal wildlife habitat assessment research currently underway on the Kane Experimental Forest, it is the summer base for crews assessing the response of songbird, small mammal, and reptile/amphibian communities in many of the research team's studies across the Allegheny plateau region.


     The headquarters of the Experimental Forest provides an office for the forest manager, a conference room for meetings and training sessions and temporary quarters for visiting scientists and students working on the forest. The office facilities are open year round, while living accommodations are generally available from about May 1 through October 15. The residential facilities are adequate to provide rustic accommodations for a college class for a field trip, or longer term quarters for up to 5 residents.

     The Kane Experimental Forest is within the Southern District of the Allegheny National Forest. Personnel of the Ranger District provide road maintenance and environmental assessment and administration of experimental treatments. The manager of the Kane Experimental Forest, an employee of the Research Work Unit in Warren, PA, is on the forest throughout the year.


     The Kane Experimental Forest is on the eastern edge of the Allegheny National Forest, 3.5 miles south of Kane, PA. Main access is from Pennsylvania Route 321 or the Highland-Lamont Road, via Forest Service Road 138.


Kane Experimental Forest
Forestry Sciences Laboratory
P.O. Box 267
Irvine, PA 16329

Telephone: (814)563-1040
FAX: (814)563-1048


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Last updated December 23, 1999.