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Long-term soil changes from forest harvesting and residue management in the northern Rocky Mountains

Author(s): Woongsoon Jang, Deborah S. Page-Dumroese, Christopher R. Keyes
Year Published: 2016
Description:

Soil changes associated with forest harvesting, differing utilization levels, and post-harvest prescribed burning were determined using an empirical study to investigate the long-term impacts on soil physical and chemical properties at Coram Experimental Forest in northwestern Montana. In 1974, two replications of three regeneration cuttings (shelterwood, group selection, and clearcut) were installed. In addition, four residue management regimes (high utilization with no burning, medium with no burning, medium with broadcast burning, and low with broadcast burning) were implemented (~74, 63, 65, and 54% wood removal, respectively). Thirty-eight years after harvesting, changes were evaluated in mineral soil and forest floor physical and chemical properties (organic matter [OM], C, N, Ca, K, and Mg pools, soil bulk density, and pH) and in coarse woody debris levels. There were no differences in soil pH and bulk density across all regeneration cuttings and residue treatments, probably due to the minimal soil effects associated with the forest harvesting operations that were used (hand felling and cable yarding). Comparisons between harvest and burning and the control indicate no statistical differences in OM, C, and N contents. Minor differences in extractable cation pools were noted in several comparisons among the treatments; these may be attributed to litter inputs from the differing vegetation compositions of overstory and shrub layers rather than nutrient changes within the mineral soil itself. At this moist-cool forest, intensive biomass utilization, with or without broadcast burning, had few long-term impacts on soil properties of soil C, OM, and nutrients.

Citation: Jang, Woongsoon; Page-Dumroese, Deborah S.; Keyes, Christopher R. 2016. Long-term soil changes from forest harvesting and residue management in the northern Rocky Mountains. Soil Science Society of America Journal. doi: 10.2136/sssaj2015.11.0413.
Topic(s): Fire Effects, Ecological - Second Order, Soils
Ecosystem(s): Subalpine wet spruce-fir forest, Montane wet mixed-conifer forest
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 14659
Record updated: Oct 20, 2016