Forest Successional and Disturbance Dynamics in the Southern Blue Mountains of Eastern Oregon Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/tx31qm969

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  • The application of modern land management practices beginning at the turn of the 20th century is widely believed to have dramatically transformed forest landscapes of the inland Pacific Northwest. Restoring historical conditions to make forests resilient to future climate and disturbance regimes is a major goal of federal forest managers. However, information about historical relationships between forest structure, forest composition, topography, climate, and disturbance sufficient to parameterize managers' decision-making is often lacking. This study uses dendroecological methods to reconstruct historical (1650-1900 CE) forest structure, composition, and fire disturbance, and to describe change over time across a wide range of forest types in the southern Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon. Results indicate that both fire frequency and climate controls on fire occurrence were similar across a broad range of forest types. Southern Blue Mountains forests are markedly different with respect to inherent site productivity and species composition, but frequent fire tended to equalize stand densities across the landscape prior to the exclusion of fire in the late 1800s. In the absence of fire, more productive mixed conifer sites have generally experienced the same or greater successional change as drier pine dominated sites. If restoring historical conditions is a goal, treatments appropriate to restore dry ponderosa pine forests are also appropriate for moister mixed conifer forest types.
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