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Individual Highlight

Big Trees, Bark Beetles, Goshawks, and Timber

Photo of One of 12 thinning densities established on the Black Hills Experimental Forest in 1962. They were followed through 2010 when the trees in the study were killed by mountain pine beetles.

One of 12 thinning densities established on the Black Hills Experimental Forest in 1962. They were followed through 2010 when the trees in the study were killed by mountain pine beetles. Snapshot : Throughout the Rocky Mountains over the last century, large ponderosa pine trees provided lumber for growing cities and towns, along with fuel and timber for the mining and railroad industries. Most of these forests are now occupied by dense, young, and mid-aged forests highly susceptible to mortality from bark beetle infestation and wildfire. These conditions are exacerbated by fire suppression and urban encroachment. As a result, land managers need knowledge to inform management actions directed at restoring and conserving ponderosa pine forests. 

Principal Investigators(s) :
Jain, Terrie B. Asherin, Lance A.
Graham, Russell T. Battaglia, Mike A.
Reynolds, Richard T.  
Research Location : South Dakota, Utah, Arizona, Idaho?
Research Station : Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS)
Year : 2019
Highlight ID : 1549

Summary

Forest development research has been conducted for more than 100 years. In 1960 research on the development of ponderosa pine forests was started both in northern Arizona and western South Dakota. Intensive bark beetle research commenced in 1980 in western South Dakota adding to work started in 1910. These lines of research followed individual trees and different stand structures. Similarly, northern goshawk and its preys' habitat research started in 1990 adding knowledge on the importance of large ponderosa pine trees in the goshawk's conservation. Combined, this research and resulting publications have transformed how ponderosa pine forests are viewed, valued, and managed throughout western North America. Stand thinning is suggested early in the life of a forest to create conditions that produce large trees. Moderately low tree densities with open understories and irregularly tree spacing are recommended. Young to old forest structures irregularly arranged within stands and over landscapes of low-density trees are resilient and resistant to bark beetles and wildfire. Such conditions provide habitat for the northern goshawk and its prey as well as many other wildlife species.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Blaine Cook, Black Hills National Forest
  • Kurt Allen, Forest Health and Protection, Region 2
  • Ron Rodriguez, Dixie National Forest
  • Sandy Boyce, Washington Office