USDA Forest Service

Land and Watershed Management

Land and Watershed Management Program
Pacific Northwest Research Station
Olympia Forestry Sciences Laboratory
  3625 93rd Ave. SW
Olympia, WA 98512
(360) 753-7747
Corvallis Forestry Sciences Laboratory
  3200 SW Jefferson Way
Corvallis, OR 97331
(541) 750-7250
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Pacific Northwest Research Station logo which links to the Station's Web site.

United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

Genetic and Silvicultural Foundations for Management

Selected Studies

Silvicultural Options for Harvesting Young-Growth Production Forests

David D. Marshall, Robert O. Curtis, Dean S. DeBell, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, 3625 93rd Avenue SW, Olympia, WA 98512-9193

Jeffrey D. DeBell, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, P. O. Box 47018, Olympia, WA 98504-7018

Introduction: Public and private forest managers are experiencing greater public concern about the aesthetics of traditional management practices. This study was jointly developed by the WA State DNR and the PNW Research Station in response to these concerns.

Objectives: The objectives of the study are to evaluate forestry practices and silvicultural systems that can be used to reduce visual impacts of harvesting operations while maintaining a productive forest for future generations. Results will to provide managers with experience with a range of contrasting silvicultural systems and quantitative information about public response, economic performance and biological responses of the treatments.

Methods: The experimental design is 6 silvicultural treatments (options) randomly assigned to 30-75 acre plots and replicated at 3 different sites on the Capitol State Forest in western Washington.

Treatments include:

Picture of clearcut Clearcut - a conventional and well understood, even-aged system that dominates most production forestry in this region and provides a quantitative assessment of the production of wood and non-timber values for comparison with other treatments.
Picture of Retained Overstory Retained Overstory - a two-aged system that leaves approximately 15 trees per acre in the overstory and resembles a shelterwood, but with overstory trees (or a portion of them) retained through the rotation. Understory is planted.
Picture of Small Patch Cutting Small Patch Cutting - a system involving regeneration in open patches of 1.5 to 5 acres with surrounding area thinned as needed. Twenty percent of the total stand area will be regenerated at 15-year intervals, resulting in 5 age classes over a 75-year period. Patches are planted.
Picture of Group Selection Group Selection - an uneven-aged system in which trees are cut in groups occupying less than 1.5 acre and thinning throughout the stand to maintain the same average basal area as the patch cutting treatment. Regeneration harvests occur at 15-year intervals. All openings 0.1 acre and larger are planted.
Picture of Extended Rotation with Commercial Thinning Extended Rotation With Commercial Thinning - defers regeneration harvest, but uses repeated thinnings as needed to maintain high growth rates for extended periods.
Picture of Extented Rotation without Thinning Extended Rotation without Thinning - defers regeneration harvest without harvest or management of any kind. All areas 0.1 acres and larger are planted.
Aerial view of the Blue Bidge Stie Current Status and Preliminary Results:
The first replication (called Blue Ridge) was installed during the summer of 1998 in a 69-year-old, naturally regenerated high site II Douglas-fir stand.

Ongoing studies include:

  • Tree growth and stand development
  • Economics
  • Harvesting production and impacts stand damage and soil disturbance)
  • Visual quality and public response
  • Wildlife (song bird and wildlife tree surveys)

Cooperators include the PNW Research Station, WA State DNR, University of Washington and the University of Idaho.

Graph of Sale Layout Costs Graph of Normalized Total Harvesting Costs

The Blue Ridge installation has served as a demonstration area for resource managers and others interested in management options. Valuable experience has already been gained with planning, layout and harvests using alternative systems.

Over the long-term, this study will provide information and experience needed to select and defend management options and improve management of many forest resources.

Future Plans:

  • The second replication of the study, Copper Ridge, was harvested during the summer of 2002 using a cable logging system.
  • The third replication, Rusty Ridge, will be harvested during the summer of 2004.
  • The B.C. Ministry of Forests Research Branch installed an installation of the study during 2002 on Vancouver Island near Campbell River. The same treatments, plot design, and measurements were used, plus one additional aggregated variable rentention treatement was added. This is called the STEMS (Silvicultural Treatments for Ecosystem Mangement) project.
  • B.C. Ministry of Forests Silviculture Treatments for Ecosystem Management in the Sayward (STEMS) Study
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USDA Forest Service - GenSilv Team
Last Modified: Saturday, 15 October 2016 at 18:38:02 CDT

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