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Forest Ecological Relationships: Teakettle and Plumas Lassen Administrative Study. Malcolm North, Sierra Nevada Research Center, Davis, CA mpnorth@ucdavis.edu. What does the information gathered over the last 10 years of Sierran ecological studies suggest for managing forests?

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slide1

Forest Ecological Relationships: Teakettle and Plumas Lassen Administrative Study

Malcolm North, Sierra Nevada Research Center, Davis, CA mpnorth@ucdavis.edu

slide2

What does the information gathered over the last 10 years of Sierran ecological studies suggest for managing forests?

  • Processed-centered restoration
  • Historic diameter distribution
  • Historic spatial patterns
  • What is the seral development (shrub response, future tree composition) of treated stands?
slide3

What influences the ‘health’ of current and treated forests?

  • In fire suppressed mixed conifer, limited water is a primary driver of many ecological processes
  • Treatments that reduce stand density, significantly increase water availability, BUT increases in slash and litter can stall process recover
  • Fire jumpstarts most processes, boosts environmental and habitat heterogeneity, and significantly increases biodiversity
slide4

What is process-centered restoration?

(courtesy of Don Falk, Tree Ring Lab, UA)

  • Ecological processes are placed at the center of restoration design
  • A range of process values estimated (based on suitable reference)
  • Composition and structure are varied as needed to bring process within targeted range, or left to equilibrate on their own

Falk 2006; Cortina et al. 2006

slide5

Proceed Centered Restoration: Methods

  • Begin with bracketed estimates of (a) fire regime and (b) individual fire events under historical conditions
  • Model effects of structural treatments on fire behavior and effects across a range of prescriptions
  • Set structural prescription to achieve process target values
  • Test model on the ground and adapt

(courtesy of Don Falk, Tree Ring Lab, UA)

Covington et al. 2001; Fulé et al. 2004; Falk 2006

slide6

Model assumptions and conditions (90th – 95th percentile wx)

  • Modeling in FVS 6.31, Nexus 2.0, Behave+
  • 32-48 km hr-1windspeed @ 6 m
  • Slope 5%
  • Surface fuel moisture:
    • 1 hr fuels 3-8%
    • 10 hr 4-10%
    • 100 hr 5-12%
  • Live fuel moisture 80-100%
  • Fuel models 9-10

Fulé et al. 2004; Falk 2006

(courtesy of Don Falk, Tree Ring Lab, UA)

slide7

Target (reference) values for key fire behavior and effects (response) variables

  • Primarily surface fire, occasional torching OK
  • Overall flame height  2 m
  • Headfire spread rate  3 - 4 m min-1
  • Fireline intensity  1000 km m-1
  • TI  40 km hr-1, CI  65 km hr-1
  • Percent mortality by size class
    •  2% overstory trees ( 40 cm dbh)
    •  80% saplings and understory trees ( 15 cm dbh)

Agee 1993, Sackett and Haase 1996, Pyne, Andrews et al. 1996

slide8

Structural (input) variables

  • Thin progressively across a range of maximum thin diameters: unthinned – 40 cm (16 in). This alters:
    • Tree density (stems ha-1)
    • BA (m2 ha-1)
    • Crown base height distribution (m)
    • Crown bulk density (kg m-3)
    • Size distribution (dbh, cm)

Graham et al. 2004; Peterson et al. 2005

slide10

Current diameter distribution in

fire-suppressed mixed conifer

slide12

Diameter distribution at Teakettle

after treatments compared to 1865

245

Pretreatment

Burn/no thin

205

Unburned/understory thin

165

Burn/Understory thin

Unburned/Overstory thin

125

Burn/overstory thin

85

1865 Reconstruction

Density (# of stems/ha)

30

20

10

0

0

25

50

75

100

125

150

25 cm dbh size classes

Diameter distribution

slide14

Pretreatment Forest

Highly Clustered

slide15

1865 Reconstruction

Slightly clustered

Random

slide19

NB-NT: No burn/no thin

NB-UT: No burn/understory thin

NB-OT: No burn/overstory thin

B-NT: Burn/no thin

B-UT: Burn/understory thin

B-OT: Burn/overstory thin

slide20

Canopy Openness Effects on Understory Vegetation Cover

Herb

Canopy Openness

PercentCover

80

Canopy Cover

40

slide21

Stanislaus Tuolomne Experimental Forest Methods of Cutting Plot 1929

Historic forests probably had higher shrub cover

Some studies suggest shrubs are important habitat for birds and small mammals

For Jeffrey or ponderosa pine, if sapling is established, shrub may not reduce survival

However sugar pine may need forest canopy for early growth

How much shrub cover and how distributed?

slide22

Summary I: Some suggestions from recent ecological research

Put fire back into the system whenever possible.

Where fire can’t be used, thin stand to control intensity of inevitable wildfire

Trees should not be evenly spaced after thinning

Different treatments by species—not uniform diameter limits

slide23

Summary II: Some suggestions from recent ecological research

Need to mix it up at multiple scales—leave some dense clumps, some gaps

Plant pine seedlings to overcome natural seeding, shrub competition, and limited mineral soil and direct sunlight

We still don’t know exactly how stands are going to develop in DFPZs, SPLATs or other fuels’ treatments