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Individual Highlight

The hunt for good oak regeneration sites

Photo of Landtypes (with both formal and colloquial names) derived from the landscape model for a portion of the Athens District of the Wayne National Forest (Bailey’s project area). Maps were generated for the entire 17-county region of SE Ohio. Landtypes (with both formal and colloquial names) derived from the landscape model for a portion of the Athens District of the Wayne National Forest (Bailey’s project area). Maps were generated for the entire 17-county region of SE Ohio. Snapshot : Landscape modeling and field sampling may identify the best locations for restoring oak forests. Managers at the Wayne National Forest are using a methodology created by Forest Service scientists to help determine “zones of investment” for maximum value with limited resources.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Iverson, LouisPeters, Matthew P.
Research Location : Southern Ohio
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2017
Highlight ID : 1272

Summary

Oak-hickory forests in the eastern U.S. provide a host of ecosystem services and are extremely valuable for wildlife and timber; and, they are generally more tolerant of weather extremes under a changing climate. These forests are, however, undergoing a severe decline in prominence throughout the region, yielding to more mesic and shade-tolerant, largely maple-dominated forests. Two decades of research in Ohio have shown that opening the canopy through prescribed fire and thinning can promote oak and hickory regeneration. Forest Service researchers developed a methodology to target areas across a 17-county region (approximately 22,000 square kilometers, or 13,670 square miles) that may be more receptive, and thus more cost effective, to successful regeneration following silvicultural treatment. The GIS model is based primarily on the topography and uses slope aspect, angle, and position, and a topographic position index to generate six classes of land-type phases: ridge, southwest upper and lower slopes, northeast upper and lower slopes, and bottomland. The first three were combined into the dry oak forestland-type that has a higher probability of being restored with silviculture, provided some understory oak-hickory seedlings and saplings are present. To determine whether sufficient stocking is present for adequate regeneration, scientists used small plots distributed among the stands of interest to determine “oakiness” in the overstory and understory. Managers on the Wayne National Forest in Ohio are using the methodology as they begin revison of their Forest Plan.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Wayne National Forest
  • Ohio Department of Natural Resources

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