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Goshawks, bark beetles, and timber management: Can they coexist?

Photo of Forest Service researchers are treating young forests to create northern goshawk habitat and resistant bark beetle structures that also produce timber products.Forest Service researchers are treating young forests to create northern goshawk habitat and resistant bark beetle structures that also produce timber products.Snapshot : Wildlife habitat and timber production are critical elements of the management of many national forests. The Black Hills National Forest in Western South Dakota and Northeastern Wyoming has provided a thriving timber economy for over 100 years. The forest, a habitat for the northern goshawk, has been severely impacted by mountain pine beetles. This research intertwines a sensitive wildlife species, intense forest disturbance, and timber production for the greatest timber producing national forest.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Graham, Russell T. Asherin, Lance A.
Battaglia, Mike A. Jain, Terrie B.
Reynolds, Richard T.  
Research Location : Black Hills National Forest
Research Station : Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS)
Year : 2017
Highlight ID : 1351

Summary

The northern goshawk is classified as a Sensitive Species in all USDA Forest Service regions, which includes the Black Hills National Forest in Western South Dakota and Northeastern Wyoming. The Bear Lodge Mountains, located in Northeastern Wyoming, has the most optimum, high-, and medium-rated northern goshawk habitat in the Black Hills. Wildfire, bark beetles, urban encroachment, and timber harvest can negatively affect northern goshawks and their prey’s habitat. The study evaluates how these complex issues come together in one location. Bark beetles and their associated organisms have caused tremendous damage to trees, especially to the central Black Hills ponderosa pine forests from 2000 through 2014. This epidemic, second only to the major epidemic that killed many more trees from 1890 through 1905, has threatened both the viability of goshawk populations and the thriving timber industry in the Hills. This study demonstrates how to manage for and produce timber products while supporting and sustaining northern goshawk habitat and creating forests resilient to mountain pine beetles. Stands and landscapes within the Black Hills with tree densities ranging from 40 to 80 square feet of basal area per acre showed considerable resistance to mountain pine beetles. The presence and abundance of quaking aspen is a key habitat feature for most birds that goshawks prey on in the Black Hills. The increase of quaking aspen forests within the Black Hills can improve the habitat of the goshawk by improving the habitat for many of its prey. The balance between tree diameter and volume production is producing 9- to 13- inch sized trees, which in turn produce 10,000 to 11,000 board feet with densities of 80 square feet of basal area per acre. Such structures are compatible with producing northern goshawk habitat and resistant to mountain pine beetles.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Black Hills National Forest