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Individual Highlight

A Landscape Model for Planning Red Spruce Restoration in West Virginia

Photo of The figure displays age class in red spruce-dominated forests by alternative and for three time steps (year 0, year 30, and year 100) for a portion of the study area as a result of the models.  There are some differences in the alternatives in the amount of red spruce forest by age class and their location on the landscape. USDA Forest ServiceThe figure displays age class in red spruce-dominated forests by alternative and for three time steps (year 0, year 30, and year 100) for a portion of the study area as a result of the models. There are some differences in the alternatives in the amount of red spruce forest by age class and their location on the landscape. USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : A Forest Service scientist developed a model to answer specific questions about meeting restoration goals for red spruce while protecting habitat for the Virginia northern flying squirrel. Although the squirrel was recently removed from the Endangered Species List, management of its habitat and potential habitat is still a concern. The harvests modeled shows that hands-off approaches to threatened or endangered species habitat can delay progress on restoration goals in this red spruce-dominated landscape.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Thomas-Van Gundy, Melissa 
Research Location : Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2015
Highlight ID : 865

Summary

Active restoration of threatened or endangered species habitat may seem in conflict with the provisions of the Endangered Species Act because of the prohibition of “take,” which can include habitat modification as well as death or harm to individuals. Risk-averse managers may choose to forego active management in known or presumed endangered species habitat to avoid killing an individual animal or harming critical habitat. A Forest Service scientist used an existing landscape-scale model (LANDIS-II) to determine if restoration goals for red spruce forests could be met with forest management while still protecting habitat for the Virginia northern flying squirrel, which was recently removed from the Endangered Species List. The active management modeled shows that hands-off approaches to threatened or endangered species habitat can delay progress on restoration goals in this red spruce-dominated landscape. The harvests as modeled (size, rate of entry, proportion of area harvested) show that some restoration goals will not be met in 100 years. These results suggest that given current land management constraints, the restoration goals may be unrealistic and alternative strategies should be considered.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Brain Sturtevant, NRS 13