Fuel Treatments & Effects
With increasing public demand for more intensive biomass utilization from forests, the concerns over adverse impacts on productivity by nutrient depletion are increasing. We remeasured the 1974 site of the Forest Residues Utilization Research and Development in northwestern Montana to investigate long-term impacts of intensive biomass utilization on aspects of site productivity. The historical experiment was implemented in a western larch (Larix occidentalis Nutt.) forest at three biomass utilization levels (high, medium, and low) combined with prescribed post-harvest burning treatments (burned and unburned) under three regeneration cuttings (clearcut, group selection, and shelterwood). The experiment has two replicates and was designed as a split-plot design with an imbalanced manner. Regenerated tree height and diameter at breast height, shrub root collar diameter, and soil properties (C, N, and total organic matter) of the forest floor and mineral soil layers were measured. Regenerated tree, shrub, and total aboveground biomass and total C, N, and organic matter contents of the soil layers were calculated. Results indicated that total organic matter pools at the ecosystem level were similar across regeneration cutting treatments, and there were no differences among the utilization treatments for either aboveground biomass production or soil properties 38 years after harvest. Minor differences observed among treatments seemed to originate from differences in regeneration dynamics and responses to burning treatment. Our results indicate that site productivity in this forest type was unaffected by these biomass utilization levels.