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Genetic and Silvicultural Foundations for Management

A Look Back--at Forests and Forest Research in the Pacific Northwest

Silvicultural practices in the Douglas-fir region evolved through a combination of formal research, observation, and practical experience of forest managers and silviculturists, and in response to changing economic and social factors. This process began more than a century ago and still continues. The authors of a 2007 paper (part A, part B) trace the history of how we got where we are today and cover the contribution of silvicultural research to the development of forest practices in the region.


Robert Cowlin, Former Director of the Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station wrote a history of the first 60 years of PNW Station research. This history includes not only information on what was done and who did it, but also includes information into the hows or whys of many activities. This report was written in 1988 but has not been generally available before now.

[Image]: Cover of publication entitled The 1930's Survey of Forest Resources in Washington and Oregon.

In 1928, the Secretary of Agriculture directed the Forest Service to “make and keep current a comprehensive inventory and analysis of the nation’s forest resources”. The first large-scale survey was done in Washington and Oregon in the 1930s. A recent history (GTR-584 The 1930's Survey of Forest Resources in Washington and Oregon PDF: 3.61 MB) summarizes the survey, reprints copies of old publications on the survey, and includes copies of the forest-cover maps prepared during the survey.

[Image]: Cover of The Yield of Douglas-fir in the Pacific Northwest

A comprehensive research program on growth and yield of Douglas-fir began in 1909. This line of early research evolved over time and culminated in the 1930 publication of USDA Bulletin 201, The Yield of Douglas-fir in the Pacific Northwest. B201 had an enormous influence on development of Douglas-fir forestry and was arguably the most influential single research publication ever produced in the Pacific Northwest. A history of this bulletin and related research is now available.

[Image]: Cover of The Yield of Kirkland and Brandstrum Report

Burt Kirkland and Axel Brandstrom proposed the use of uneven-aged mangement for Douglas-fir forests in 1936. This report is often refered to in the debate over the range of practices that can be used to manage Douglas-fir forests, but it has previously only been available in a few libraries. The 1936 report has been scanned and is now available.



Kirkland, B.TT and A.J.F. Brandstrom. 1936. Selective Timber Management in the Douglas-fir region. USDA Forest Service.

Several early research projects on regeneration in Douglas-fir forests were started at Wind River. One of them, variously known as the Wind River Transect, the Camp 8 Transect, or the Hoffman regeneration transect was an important piece of information supporting the recommendation of 40 acres as the maximum size for cutting units.

Photos of some early forest researchers in the Pacific Northwest.

Leo Isaac with Douglas-fir seedling in burned area.

Thornton T. Munger holding calipers used to measure tree diameter.

Richard McArdle examing an increment core taken to determine tree age or growth rate.

Thornton T. Munger measuring the diameter of a Douglas-fir tree using a diameter tape.


USDA Forest Service - GenSilv Team
Last Modified: Friday, 10 May 2019 at 09:43:29 CDT

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