Coos Bay Record of Decision and Resource Management Plan

Acronyms and Abbreviations

Coos Bay Record of Decision

Coos Bay District Resource Management Plan Table of Contents:

- Tables

- Figures

- Maps

- Appendices

Appendix E. Silvicultural Systems and Harvest Methods Used in the Proposed Resource Management Plan


General Forest Management Area

Silvicultural systems in the General Forest Management Area will be designed to promote production of merchantable timber, while retaining some larger trees and snags and maintaining forest health, productivity, and biological diversity. All treatments would be compatible with the ecological requirements of the communities of native plant and animal species present, and would be tailored to the condition of each stand. The results of watershed analysis would be used to help select and design silvicultural systems through better understanding of landscape-level patterns and ecological processes.

The quality of wood, value of logs ultimately produced, and economic efficiency would be important considerations for all planned treatments.

Lands available for harvest would be managed generally as even-aged stands with partial overstories of larger trees. The silvicultural prescription will provide for the retention of down logs necessary for ecological function.

Harvest systems will be consistent with the Best Management Practices (BMPs) described in Appendix D.

Silvicultural Treatments

Management actions in General Forest Management Areas would consist of six general types of treatments: regeneration harvest with partial retention; site preparation following harvest; reforestation treatments; management of young stands; commercial thinnings in mid-aged stands; and management of overstory trees, snags, and large woody debris. Each of these treatments is described below.

Regeneration Harvest

Regeneration harvests on available forest lands would generally occur in stands at or above the age of the culmination of mean annual increment (CMAI). On the Coos Bay District, this varies from stand age 60 to 100 years. Regeneration harvest would not be planned for stands less than 60 years of age.

Site Preparation

Following regeneration harvest, residual vegetation and logging debris would be treated if necessary to reduce fire hazard, provide room for planting of tree seedlings, lessen initial competition from other vegetation, and limit the cover for seedling-damaging rodents. Methods used would include, but not be limited to, prescribed fire, manual cutting and piling, and mechanical clearing.

Reforestation

Normally, all sites that receive regeneration harvest and do not require burning would be reforested within one year of cutting. If slashing and/or burning is required to prepare a site for planting, reforestation may be delayed beyond one year pending burn prescriptions and smoke management clearance. Most areas would be planted with seedlings grown from genetically-selected seed collected within the same seed zone and elevation. (See Appendix F for a description of the Coos Bay District's Genetics Program.) The selection of tree species, planting density, and stock types would depend on site characteristics, the composition of the original stand, and projected future management of each stand. Areas having identified root disease would be planted with species either resistant or immune to the disease, or in a manner that would reduce the likelihood of spreading the disease. Animal damage control measures would be implemented to reduce animal populations when they reach levels that threaten forest stands. A district Animal Control Plan would be developed through an interdisciplinary team approach and in coordination with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The plan would address animals such as mountain beaver, black bear, deer, and elk.

Management of Young Stands

During the first 10-15 years after planting, young stands would receive treatments (as necessary and as funding allows) to promote their establishment, survival, and growth. The treatments would involve managing competing vegetation, protecting seedlings from severe local site conditions, and preventing excessive animal damage. Treatments would include, but not be limited to, manual cutting of brush and seedling protection measures such as placement of plastic mesh tubes on seedlings and trapping of rodents.

When funding is available, suitable stands aged 10-20 years would receive treatments designed to improve their growth, value, and wood quality. These treatments include precommercial thinning, release, pruning, and fertilization.

Commercial Thinnings

Stands approximately 30-70 years of age would be considered for commercial thinning. One or two thinnings may be scheduled over the life of an individual stand.

The objectives of commercial thinning may include one or more of the following:

  • Increase the proportion of merchantable volume in the stand.
  • Produce larger, more valuable logs.
  • Anticipate mortality of small trees as the stand develops.
  • Maintain good crown ratios and stable, windfirm trees.
  • Accelerate development of trees that can later provide large-diameter snags and down logs.
  • Manage species composition.
  • Promote development of desired understory vegetation.

Nitrogen fertilizer may be applied following completion of thinnings.

Pruning of selected trees may be considered to increase future value.

In any case, the decision to thin any given stand would depend on site-specific factors such as slope and topography, distance to roads, soil types, stand density, species composition, average tree diameter, and forest health considerations.

Management of Overstory Trees, Snags, and Large Woody Debris

During partial-cut or regeneration harvests, existing snags would be reserved from cutting whenever feasible and to the extent necessary to meet snag habitat objectives. Some snags may need to be removed, however, for road construction, safety reasons, or to make way for log yarding in some situations. The trees reserved from regeneration harvest would normally not be considered available for future harvest. Some may be damaged or killed during slash burning, while others may blow down or break off during windstorms. Such trees would then become part of the supply of snags and large woody debris. Many reserved trees would likely survive and grow, providing additional structural and functional habitat diversity as younger stands develop beneath them. Some trees reserved for snag recruitment may be topped, girdled, or felled over time to help meet long-range goals for snags.

Selection of Harvest Areas

Listed below are harvest area selection guidelines for regeneration harvest and commercial thinning.

Regeneration Harvest

For available forest lands, treatment areas would be selected, when feasible, from the least productive stands first. Stands that appear to have low stocking, damage, disease, generally low growth rates, or a predominance of noncommercial species resulting from past management would receive higher priority for harvest.

Commercial Thinning

Treatment areas would be selected from well-stocked or overstocked stands where density reduction is needed to maintain good diameter growth rates, live crown ratios, and stand stability. Selection of thinning areas may depend on access and logging feasibility.

Landscape Design

Harvest units, including regeneration harvest and commercial thinnings, would be placed where needed to meet landscape objectives on three levels of scale: the physiographic province, the landscape block or watershed, and the stand.

Regeneration Harvest Design

Silvicultural prescriptions for regeneration harvest would be based on knowledge of plant communities, successional relationships, and ecosystem functions. Knowledge of these relationships would be used to help prevent vegetation management problems before they occur. Harvest plans would provide for maintenance of long-term site productivity and forest health.

Regeneration harvest units would vary in size, depending on factors such as ownership, topography, and road locations. Appropriate treatment areas would be determined through watershed analysis.

Harvest unit shapes would be irregular, conforming where possible to topographic features, but limited in many cases by logging feasibility, ownership boundaries, reserve boundaries, or other land use allocations. An average of 6 to 8 green coniferous trees per acre would be reserved from harvest as clumps, strips, and scattered individual trees. The distribution of reserved trees would be designed to help meet habitat goals and to minimize interference with log yarding.

In addition to the previous green tree retention management action/direction, green trees would be retained for snag recruitment in timber harvest units where there is an identified, near-term (less than three decades) snag deficit. These trees do not count toward green-tree retention requirements.

Where root diseases such as laminated root rot (Phellinus weirii), black stain (Ceratocystis verticicladiella), or Port-Orford-cedar root rot (Phytophthora lateralis) are present in stands to be regeneration harvested, the prescription will incorporate state-of-the-art recommendations for treatment. Openings created will be planted with seedlings of species either resistant or immune to the disease, or in a manner that would reduce the rate of disease spread.

Partial-Cut Harvest Design

Commercial thinnings would generally be designed to maintain good volume productivity of the stand. To accomplish this, a stand might be thinned before relative density exceeds 0.60, leaving a residual relative density of approximately 0.40. Depending on stand age, tree size, and the specific objectives of the thinning, stand density after thinning would range from approximately 50 to 150 trees per acre.

Commercial thinning treatment areas would vary in size, depending on factors such as operability and site conditions. Appropriate treatment areas would be determined through watershed analysis. A variety of thinning intensities may be designated within a treatment unit to reflect current within-stand spatial patterns or to meet stand development objectives.

In some portions of stands, thinning may consist only of removal of the smaller (intermediate and suppressed) trees in the stand. In other areas, many of the larger codominant and dominant trees may also be removed.

Where root diseases such as laminated root rot (Phellinus weirii), black stain (Ceratocystis verticicladiella), or Port-Orford-cedar root rot (Phytophthora lateralis) are present in stands to be thinned, the thinning prescription will incorporate state-of-the-art recommendations for treatment. Openings created will be planted with seedlings of species either resistant or immune to the disease, or in a manner that would reduce the rate of disease spread.

Connectivity/Diversity Blocks

Silvicultural systems in the Connectivity/Diversity blocks would be designed to promote development of late-successional forest structure within a longer rotation, while providing an output of merchantable timber and maintaining forest health and productivity. All treatments would be compatible with the ecological requirements of the communities of native plant and animal species present; they also would be tailored to the condition of each stand. The results of watershed analysis would be used to help select and design silvicultural systems through better understanding of landscape-level patterns and ecological processes.

Important considerations for all planned treatments would include the quality of wood, value of logs ultimately produced, and economic efficiency.

Lands available for harvest would be managed generally as even-aged stands with substantial overstories of larger trees.

The silvicultural prescription will provide for the retention of down logs necessary for ecological function.

Harvest systems utilized will be consistent with the BMPs as described in Appendix D.

Silvicultural Treatments

Management of the Connectivity/Diversity Blocks would consist of six general types of treatments: regeneration harvest with partial retention; site preparation following harvest; reforestation treatments; management of young stands; density management thinnings in mid-aged stands; and management of overstory trees, snags, and large woody debris. Each of these treatments is described below.

Regeneration Harvest

Regeneration harvests on available forest land would be planned for a 150-year area control rotation. This means that approximately 1/15 of the available acres would receive regeneration harvest in any decade. On the Coos Bay District, portions of some stands would be cut at stand ages as low as 60 years during the first decade, where older stands are not available or to develop a better distribution of age classes over time. Regeneration harvest would not be planned for stands less than 60 years of age.

Site Preparation

Following regeneration harvest, sites would receive treatment of understory vegetation and logging debris if necessary to reduce fire hazard, provide room for planting of tree seedlings, lessen initial competition from other vegetation, and limit the cover for seedling-damaging rodents. Methods used would include, but not be limited to, prescribed fire (underburning), machine piling, and manual cutting.

Reforestation

Normally, all sites that receive regeneration harvest and do not require burning would be reforested within one year of cutting and using seed collected within the same seed zone and elevation. If slashing and/or burning is required to prepare sites for planting, reforestation may be delayed beyond one year pending smoke management clearance. The selection of tree species, planting density, and stock types would depend on site characteristics, the composition of the original stand and remaining overstory, projected future management of each stand, and distribution of root disease infection. Harvested areas having identified root disease would be planted with species either resistant or immune to the disease, or in a manner that would reduce spread of the disease. Animal damage control measures would be implemented to reduce animal populations when they reach levels that threaten forest stands. A district Animal Control Plan would be developed through an interdisciplinary team approach, and in coordination with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The plan would address animals such as mountain beaver, black bear, deer, and elk.

Management of Young Stands

During the first 10-15 years after planting, understory stands would receive treatments as necessary and as funding allows to promote their establishment, survival, and growth. The treatments would involve managing competing vegetation, preventing excessive animal damage, and managing overstory density. These treatments would include, but not be limited to, manual cutting of brush and seedling protection measures.

When funding is available, suitable stands aged 10-20 years may receive treatments designed to improve their growth, value, and wood quality. These treatments may include release, precommercial thinning, and pruning. Consideration will be given to retention of the natural species composition of the stand.

Density Management Thinnings

Stands approximately 30-110 years of age would be considered for density management thinnings. An individual stand may be thinned 3-4 times at intervals of 20-30 years, within one 150-year rotation.

The purposes of density management may include one or more of the following: to accelerate growth of trees which would later provide large-diameter snags and down logs; to promote development of understory vegetation and multiple canopy layers; to produce larger, more valuable logs, to harvest mortality of small trees as the stand develops; to maintain good crown ratios and stable, windfirm trees; and to manage species composition.

The decision to thin a particular stand would depend on site-specific factors such as slope and topography, distance to roads, soil types, stand density, species composition, average tree diameter, degree of structural variability in the stand, and forest health considerations. Pruning of selected trees may be considered to increase their future value.

Management of Overstory Trees, Snags, and Large Woody Debris

During partial-cut or regeneration harvests, existing snags would be reserved from cutting whenever feasible and to the extent necessary to meet snag habitat objectives. Some snags would need to be removed, however, for safety reasons, for road construction, or to make way for log yarding in some situations.

The trees reserved from regeneration harvest would not normally be considered available for future harvest. Some may be damaged or killed during slash burning, while others may blow down or break off during windstorms. Such trees would become part of the supply of snags and large woody debris. Most reserved trees would likely survive and grow, providing substantial structural and functional habitat diversity as the canopies of younger stands develop beneath them.

Selection of Harvest Areas

Listed below are harvest area selection guidelines for regeneration harvest and density management thinning.

Regeneration Harvest

Treatment areas would be selected from mature stands having the least degree of late-successional forest structure. In addition, the more productive stands would be deferred so that the less productive stands would be harvested first, when feasible. Stands that appear to have low stocking, damage, disease, generally low growth rates, or a predominance of noncommercial species resulting from past management would receive higher priority for harvest.

Density Management Thinnings

Treatment areas would be selected from well-stocked stands where density reduction is needed to promote development of late-successional forest structure. This would generally be stands which are predominantly even-aged, evenly spaced, and of a fairly uniform diameter and height. Selection of thinning areas would also depend on access and logging feasibility.

Landscape Design

Harvest units, including regeneration harvest and density management thinnings, would be placed where needed to meet landscape objectives on three levels of scale: the physiographic province, the landscape block or subwatershed, and the stand.

Regeneration Harvest Design

Silvicultural prescriptions for regeneration harvest would be based on knowledge of plant communities, successional relationships, and ecosystem functions with consideration of forest health. Knowledge of these relationships would be used to help prevent vegetation management problems. Harvest plans would provide for maintenance of long-term site productivity and forest health.

Regeneration harvest units would vary in size, depending on factors such as ownership, topography, reserve boundaries, other land use allocations, and road locations. Appropriate treatment areas would be determined through watershed analysis.

Harvest unit shapes would be irregular, conforming where possible to topographic features, but limited in many cases by logging feasibility, reserve boundaries, other land use allocations, and ownership boundaries. An average of 12 to 18 green coniferous trees per acre would be reserved from harvest as clumps, strips, and scattered individual trees. The distribution of reserved trees would be designed to help meet habitat goals and to minimize interference with log yarding. Some trees reserved for snag recruitment may be topped, girdled, or felled over time to help meet long-range goals for snags and large woody debris.

Where root diseases such as laminated root rot (Phellinus weirii), black stain (Ceratocystis verticicladiella), or Port-Orford-cedar root rot (Phytophthora lateralis) are present in stands to be regeneration harvested, the prescription will incorporate state-of-the-art recommendations for treatment. Openings created will be planted with seedlings of species either resistant or immune to the disease, or in a manner that would reduce the rate of disease spread.

Partial-Cut Harvest Design

Density management thinnings would generally be designed to encourage rapid development of vertical and horizontal stand diversity. To accomplish this, a stand might be thinned before relative density exceeds 0.55, leaving a residual relative density of approximately 0.35. Patches of denser forest would be retained in some places to meet particular wildlife habitat criteria. Depending on stand age and the specific objectives of thinning, stand density after thinning may range from approximately 30 to 200 trees per acre. Density management areas would vary in size, depending on factors such as operability and site conditions. Appropriate treatment areas would be determined through watershed analysis. A variety of treatment intensities may be designated within a thinning unit to reflect current within-stand spatial patterns or to meet stand development objectives.

For example, some dense patches of perhaps 0.25 acre to several acres may be reserved from cutting. Other patches of 0.5 to 1 acre may be completely removed as group selections, and those areas planted with tree seedlings after the thinning is completed. Group selection patches larger than one acre in size would contain reserved trees and snags as provided in regeneration harvest units.

In each density management thinning entry, some of the larger codominant and dominant trees may be removed.

Where root diseases such as laminated root rot (Phellinus weirii), black stain (Ceratocystis verticicladiella), or Port-Orford-cedar root rot (Phytophthora lateralis) are present in stands to be thinned, the prescription will incorporate state-of-the-art recommendations for treatment. Openings created will be planted with seedlings of species either resistant or immune to the disease, or in a manner that would reduce the rate of disease spread.

Late-Successional Reserves

Forest stands less than 80 years of age within the Late-Successional Reserves would be considered for silvicultural treatments where stocking, structure, or composition are expected to prevent or significantly retard development of late-successional conditions. Such stands would generally be composed of trees less than 10 to 20 inches diameter at breast height, and would show no significant development of a multiple-canopy forest structure. Stands that have, or will soon develop, desired late-successional structure would not be treated unless such treatment is necessary to accomplish risk-reduction objectives as described below.

Silvicultural Treatments

Late-Successional Reserve Assessments will assist in the determination of activities to be conducted. Late-Successional Reserve Assessments are subject to Regional Ecosystem Office review. Within Late-Successional Reserves, silvicultural treatments should be beneficial to the creation of late-successional forest conditions and could include density management and reduction of large-scale disturbance risk. Silvicultural prescriptions will provide for the retention of down logs necessary for ecological function. Harvest systems utilized will be consistent with the BMPs described in Appendix D.

Density Management

Density management prescriptions would be designed to produce stand structure and components associated with late-successional conditions, including large trees, snags, down logs, and variable-density, multi-storied, multi-species stands.

By removing a portion of the stand, the remaining trees would be provided room to maintain or increase diameter growth rates. In addition, openings in the canopy would permit development of an understory of seedlings and saplings and other vegetation. Some overstory trees may be converted to snags over time, to help meet snag habitat targets, or felled to provide large woody debris. Trees cut but surplus to habitat needs would be removed for commercial use.

A wide variety of silvicultural practices would be employed as needed to meet stand and Late-Successional Reserve objectives. Silvicultural activities would be conducted in suitable stands, whether or not the action would generate a commercial return.

In general, acres treated would be limited to five percent of the total area in any Late-Successional Reserve in the initial 5-year period of implementation unless the need for larger-scale actions is explicitly justified.

Where root diseases such as laminated root rot (Phellinus weirii), black stain (Ceratocystis verticicladiella), or Port-Orford-cedar root rot (Phytophthora lateralis) are present in stands to be thinned, the prescription will incorporate state-of-the-art recommendations for treatment. Openings created will be planted with seedlings of species either resistant or immune to the disease, or in a manner that would reduce the rate of disease spread.

Reduction of Large-Scale Disturbance Risk

In some areas, stands would be made less susceptible to natural disturbances by focusing salvage activities on reduction of catastrophic insect, disease, and wildfire threats, and by designing treatments to provide effective fuel breaks wherever possible. These treatments would be designed so as not to result in degredation of currently suitable spotted owl habitat or other late-successional conditions.

Risks would be reduced in older stands if the proposed management activity would clearly result in greater assurance of long-term maintenance of habitat; is clearly needed to reduce risks; and would not prevent Late-Successional Reserves from playing an effective role in attaining the objectives for which they were established.

Unless exempted from review, proposed risk reduction projects would be submitted to the Regional Ecosystem Office.

Riparian Reserves

Some stands within the Riparian Reserves would be considered for silvicultural treatments that would contribute to meeting objectives of the Aquatic Conservation Strategy.

Silvicultural Treatments

In Riparian Reserves, the watershed analysis will assist in development of silvicultural treatments and would include density management and conifer underplanting. Silvicultural prescriptions will provide for the retention of down logs necessary for ecological function. Harvest systems utilized will be consistent with the BMPs described in Appendix D.

Density Management

Stands where portions of young, even-aged conifer plantations are located within the Riparian Reserves would be considered for density management treatments. The objectives of such treatment would be to promote development of large conifers, to recruit large woody debris, to improve diversity of species composition and stand density, and to promote forest health. Merchantable logs would be removed where such action would not be detrimental to the purposes for which the Riparian Reserves were established.

Where root diseases such as laminated root rot (Phellinus weirii), black stain (Ceratocystis verticicladiella), or Port-Orford-cedar root rot (Phytophthora lateralis) are present in stands to be thinned, the prescription will incorporate state-of-the-art recommendations for treatment. Openings created will be planted with seedlings of species either resistant or immune to the disease, or in a manner that would reduce the rate of disease spread.

Conifer Underplanting

Where hardwood stands dominate streamside areas and there is a lack of large conifers to provide inputs of large wood for instream structure, efforts would be made to re-establish scattered conifers within the Riparian Reserve. This would involve cutting or girdling some hardwoods to create openings in the canopy, followed by cutting of brush and planting of a variety of conifer seedlings in the openings created. In most cases, follow-up stand maintenance treatments would be necessary to ensure successful establishment of an adequate number of conifers in the riparian area.

Timber Harvest and Management Details

Table E-1 displays the expected average annual harvest in both MMBF and MMCF for decades 1, 2, 3, 5, and 10. Table E-2 displays the expected average annual harvest in both acres and MMCF and the amount of harvest associated with regeneration harvest and commercial thinning or density management for each management area.