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Individual Highlight

Ecological impacts of collaborative forest restoration treatments

Photo of (Left) Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program treatment implementation on the Pike National Forest. (Right) A study plot at Boulder County’s Heil Ranch, before (top) and after (bottom) treatment implementation.

(Left) Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program treatment implementation on the Pike National Forest. (Right) A study plot at Boulder County’s Heil Ranch, before (top) and after (bottom) treatment implementation. Snapshot : Restoration treatments are being implemented at an increasing rate in ponderosa pine and other dry conifer forests across the western United States, via the USDA Forest Service’s Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP). In this program, collaborative stakeholder groups work with National Forests to adaptively implement and monitor forest restoration treatments intended to offset the effects of many decades of human and natural stressors. 

Principal Investigators(s) :
Fornwalt, Paula J.  
Research Location : Colorado Front Range ?
Research Station : Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS)
Year : 2018
Highlight ID : 1421

Summary

The authors initiated a novel study to expand the scope of restoration treatment effectiveness monitoring efforts in one of the first CFLRP landscapes, Colorado's Front Range. They used a "Before/After/Control/Impact" framework to evaluate the short-term impacts of treatments on numerous ecological properties. They collected pre-treatment and one year post-treatment data on National Forest and partner agencies' lands, in 66 plots distributed across seven treatment units and nearby untreated areas.  The findings indicated that treatments successfully met several objectives: treated areas had lower tree density and basal area, greater openness, no increase in exotic understory plants, no decrease in native understory plants, and no decrease in use by tree squirrels and ungulates. However, some findings suggested the need for adaptive modification of both treatment prescriptions and monitoring protocols: treatments did not promote heterogeneity of stand structure, and monitoring methods may not have been robust enough to detect changes in surface fuels. The study highlights both the effective aspects of these restoration treatments and the importance of initiating and continuing collaborative science-based monitoring to improve the outcomes of forest restoration efforts. ?

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • Jennifer Briggs, U.S. Geological Survey
  •  Jonas Feinstein, USDA National Resource Conservation Service