Analysis of riparian vegetation age structure and forest land ownership in the Central Oregon Cascades Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_projects/rv042t73v

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  • Vegetation along the banks of mountain streams in the western Oregon Cascades comprises an integral part of the transition zone between land and water based ecosystems, and as such, is a vitally important and unique natural resource. Forestry is a major land use in this region, and harvesting riparian vegetation has serious and well-documented impacts on ecological and hydrological processes. In order to protect riparian vegetation, "buffer strips" are often required by the presiding management agency. However, buffer strip management regulations and enforcement vary substantially among the many owners of forest land in the region. It was unclear what the general ecological condition of riparian vegetation was. This study examined the riparian stand structure and age characteristics, as identified from Landsat Thematic Mapper imagery, within five different land ownership classes. The study also examined the pattern of change in the occurrence of old-growth conifers that occurred with increasing lateral distance from the stream, across various land ownership classes. It was found that there was typically a predominance of younger, mixed open canopy riparian conditions on low elevation private industrial and interspersed federal lands. In contrast, older conifers tended to dominate riparian vegetation on higher elevation federal lands. Furthermore, it was found that change from an older to younger seral stage with increasing lateral distance from the stream tended to occur more rapidly on low elevation private industrial and interspersed federal lands. This study provides insight into how the condition of riparian vegetation correlates to the corresponding ownership or management regime. Vegetation inventories across large regions such as the study area have only recently become feasible with advances in remote sensing technology, digital image processing techniques, and geographic information systems. The employment of these new technologies has introduced a scale of investigation which enables landscape scale patterns, processes, and human influences on riparian systems to be better understood.
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