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Study projects effects of forest management in Oregon's Coast Range

One of the challenges of managing forests is deciding among management practices, particularly when the landscape effects these practices will have are not fully known.

Since 1995, Pacific Northwest (PNW) Research Station scientists and their colleagues from Oregon State University and the Oregon Department of Forestry have been conducting research that provides managers with a better idea of the effects—both intended and unintended—that forest management practices can have on landscapes. Findings from this research were published recently in a series of six invited papers in Ecological Applications, a peer-reviewed journal of the Ecological Society of America.

"This research is one of the first and most integrated studies of the ‘big picture’ of forest management across ownerships anywhere in the world," said Gordon Reeves, a coauthor on several of the invited papers and one of the Station’s lead investigators with the research project, known as the Coastal Landscape Analysis and Modeling Study (CLAMS).

CLAMS examines the ecological, economic, and social consequences of forest policies in Oregon’s Coast Range, which spans eastward from the state’s coastline to the western edge of the Willamette Valley. It treats these policies—which influence which management practices managers choose to use—as untested hypotheses and projects how they may impact federal, state, and private forest lands in the area’s nearly five million acres.

Some of CLAMS’ findings include:

- The area of older forest and habitat for old-forest species in the Coast Range is expected to strongly increase over the next 100 years if policies are maintained.

- Widespread recovery of coho salmon is unlikely without improvement in habitats on private lands; habitat conditions for salmon and trout in the Coast Range are more likely to improve on public lands than on private.

- Recent biodiversity policies have been developed in a largely uncoordinated manner, leading to less-than efficient production of some forest values, such as timber and fish, in the region.

- The area of diverse early-successional and hardwood forest is expected to strongly decline in the Coast Range as federal lands concentrate on producing old-growth forests and private industrial lands focus on intensive forest management. Declines in plant and animal populations may occur as a result.

"The greatest benefit of CLAMS may be its ability to change how people think about forests, which may ultimately lead to better understanding and a more effective mix of forest values," Reeves said.

Several land management agencies have adopted CLAMS’ models and techniques to improve their ability to understand the effects of management on the production of forest goods and services.

Sherri Richardson Dodge | EurekAlert!
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