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Individual Highlight

Using habitat requirements of woodpeckers to design post-fire salvage logging

Photo of Black-backed woodpecker favors unlogged, recently burned forests for nesting.Black-backed woodpecker favors unlogged, recently burned forests for nesting.Snapshot : Can we conduct economically-beneficial forest management while maintaining wildlife populations in recently burned forests? Study shows trade-off analysis and provides prescription design options that may allow for concurrent benefits.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Saab, Victoria A. Latif, Quresh
Dudley, Jonathan G. Haas, Jessica R.
Sanderlin, Jamie S. Block, William M.
Research Location : Oregon, Idaho, Washington, Montana
Research Station : Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS)
Year : 2017
Highlight ID : 1410


Forests burned by wildfires contain increased snag densities, which provide habitat for wildlife. Burned snags also present economic opportunities for local communities and potential threats to human safety. Removal of snags, however, can have negative ecological consequences, including reduction of habitat for wildlife species associated with recently disturbed forests (e.g., several woodpecker species). As a result, forest managers are challenged with implementing post-fire management policies of salvage logging while concurrently meeting the requirements of existing laws and planning documents to maintain wildlife habitat (National Forest Management Act 1976 and 2012 Planning Rule Directives). Salvage logging is often litigated over concerns regarding negative effects on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and on disturbance-associated wildlife. Several woodpecker species (i.e. black-backed woodpecker [Picoides arcticus], white-headed woodpecker [Picoides albolarvatus] and Lewis’s woodpecker [Melanerpes lewisii]) are strongly associated with recently burned forests because snags provide critical nesting and foraging resources. Information is needed to minimize negative consequences of salvage logging and hazard tree removal on disturbance-associated wildlife, particularly woodpecker species. Key Findings: Experimental study designed to identify post-fire salvage harvest prescriptions that best allow concurrent benefits to economics and wildlife (i.e. population persistence of three focal woodpecker species). Harvest prescriptions target species-specific habitat requirements, and LiDAR imagery will provide high-resolution data to evaluate hypothesized woodpecker relationships with habitat and harvest intensity. Results will inform analysis of trade-offs between timber harvest that captures economic and safety benefits, with the conservation of wildlife species of concern.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Region 6 Malheur National Forest
  • Blue Mountains Forest Partners