Nav: Home

Salvage logging, planting not necessary to regenerate Douglas firs after Klamath fires

October 31, 2018

Researchers at Portland State University and Oregon State University looking at the aftermath of wildfires in southwestern Oregon and northern California found that after 20 years, even in severely burned areas, Douglas fir grew back on its own without the need for salvage logging and replanting.

The study, published online Oct. 26 in the journal Forest Ecology and Management, is the latest to address the contentious issue of whether forest managers should log dead timber and plant new trees after fires, or let them regenerate on their own.

Melissa Lucash, an assistant research professor of geography in PSU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and a co-author of the study, said that concerns in the Klamath over whether conifer forests would regenerate after high-severity fires have led to salvage logging, replanting and shrub removal on federal lands throughout the region.

But the study found that the density of Douglas-fir was relatively high after 20 years and was unaffected by whether or not a site had been managed.

"This is an area where forest managers are really worried that the Douglas-fir won't come back, but what we found is that they come back just fine on their own," she said. "We forget the power of natural regeneration and that these burned sites don't need to be salvage logged and planted."

Lucash suggests that those resources could instead be reallocated elsewhere, perhaps to thinning forests to prevent high-severity wildfires.

The research team also included Maria Jose Lopez, a research associate at Universidad del Cono Sur de las Americas in Paraguay; Terry Marcey, a recent graduate of PSU's Environmental Science and Management program; David Hibbs, a professor emeritus in Oregon State University's College of Forestry; Jeff Shatford, a terrestrial habitat specialist in British Columbia's Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development; and Jonathan Thompson, a senior ecologist for Harvard Forest.

The authors sampled 62 field sites that had severely burned 20 years prior on both north and south slopes of the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountain -- some of which had been salvaged logged and replanted and others that had been left to regenerate on its own.

Among the study's findings:
  • Aspect, or the direction a slope faces, played an important role in determining the effectiveness of post-fire practices.
  • Density of Douglas-fir was higher on north than south aspects, but was unaffected by whether or not a site had been managed, suggesting that Douglas-fir regeneration is inherently less abundant on hot and dry sites and management does not influence the outcome.
  • On the flip side, management practices increased the density of ponderosa pine on south aspects, but had no impact on north aspects. That finding suggests that with rising temperatures and increasing severity of fires in the region, management would be most effective when tailored to promote drought-tolerant ponderosa pine on south aspects.
  • Managed sites had taller conifers, which can improve fire resistance, but also had fewer snags -- an important habitat feature for bird, small mammals and amphibian species in the region.


  • The authors recommend that forest managers should avoid applying the same post-fire management practices everywhere and should instead tailor practices to specific objectives and the landscape context.
    -end-


    Portland State University

    Related Fires Articles:

    How does wildlife fare after fires?
    Fire ecologists and wildlife specialists at La Trobe University have made key discoveries in how wildlife restores itself after bushfires, and what conservationists can do to assist the process.
    Surprising findings on forest fires
    Several years ago, an international team of scientists led by the University of Bonn raised sediments from the bottom of Lake Van in eastern Turkey reflecting the past 600,000 years.
    Forest fires as an opportunity for ecosystem recovery
    It is estimated that globally there are more than two million hectares of land in need of restoration.
    Fighting fires before they spark
    With warm, dry summers comes a deadly caveat for the western United States: wildfires.
    How forest fires spoil wine
    If wine is cultivated where forest fires occur more often, such as in Australia or Italy, aromas that make the alcoholic drink unpalatable can develop in the finished product.
    Fires in Australia pop up in places already burned
    Fires that span across the Northern Territory and Western Australia appear to have broken out in areas that have already been burned in previous fires.
    Wildfires: More people, less fires
    Every year, about 350 million hectares of land are devastated by fires worldwide, this corresponds to about the size of India.
    Demographic changes increase the risk of natural fires
    In many parts of the world, grass and forest fires pose a threat to animals and humans.
    Oil fires in Libya continue
    The oil refinery fires in Libya that were started by attacks on oil terminals in Libya in very early January continue.
    Fires ravaging Washington, Oregon, and California
    Wildfires have been ravaging large parcels of land in the West and there seems to be no end in sight for the weary Westerners.
  • Top Science Podcasts

    We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
    Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

    Accessing Better Health
    Essential health care is a right, not a privilege ... or is it? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can give everyone access to a healthier way of life, despite who you are or where you live. Guests include physician Raj Panjabi, former NYC health commissioner Mary Bassett, researcher Michael Hendryx, and neuroscientist Rachel Wurzman.
    Now Playing: Science for the People

    #543 Give a Nerd a Gift
    Yup, you guessed it... it's Science for the People's annual holiday episode that helps you figure out what sciency books and gifts to get that special nerd on your list. Or maybe you're looking to build up your reading list for the holiday break and a geeky Christmas sweater to wear to an upcoming party. Returning are pop-science power-readers John Dupuis and Joanne Manaster to dish on the best science books they read this past year. And Rachelle Saunders and Bethany Brookshire squee in delight over some truly delightful science-themed non-book objects for those whose bookshelves are already full. Since...
    Now Playing: Radiolab

    An Announcement from Radiolab