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Soil disturbance recovery on the Kootenai National Forest, Montana

Posted date: August 15, 2018
Publication Year: 
2018
Authors: Gier, John M.; Kindel, Kenneth M.; Page-Dumroese, Deborah S.; Kuennen, Louis J.
Publication Series: 
General Technical Report (GTR)
Source: Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-380. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 31 p.

Abstract

Determining the extent of soil property changes following forest management activities (e.g., timber harvest, fuels abatement, site preparation) is an ongoing concern for land managers. Monitoring the long-term effects of various harvest operations and fuels treatment methods on soil physical properties and hydrologic function is critical to maintaining forest productivity. We document changes in detrimental soil disturbance (DSD) in harvest units located on the Kootenai National Forest that occurred over two decades. From 1992 through 2006, 251 harvest units on the Kootenai National Forest were monitored by using standard soil monitoring transects. Seventy-three percent of these units were resampled from 2012 to 2013 under the same monitoring protocol. The original sampling included 510 soil transects and 118,956 datapoints; resampling included 394 soil transects and 76,561 datapoints. Both the initial and subsequent sampling efforts evaluated the extent of DSD after forest management activities. Results indicate that about 86 percent of the resampled units had a reduction in DSD when compared to the original soil monitoring data. Processes that contribute to soil recovery include freeze-thaw cycles, wet-dry cycles, vegetative regrowth, and soil organic matter inputs. Soil recovery is logarithmic, with the greatest soil recovery rates occurring in the first 3 to 5 years after harvest activities, particularly on soils influenced by a volcanic ash-cap. Long-term DSD is usually associated with skid trails, temporary roads, and log landings.

Citation

Gier, John M.; Kindel, Kenneth M.; Page-Dumroese, Deborah S.; Kuennen, Louis J. 2018. Soil disturbance recovery on the Kootenai National Forest, Montana. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-380. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 31 p.