Chewaucan Biophysical Monitoring Report for the summer of 2012 The summer of 2012 was a rebuilding year for

the Chewaucan Biophysical Monitoring Team. The monitoring effort was not funded in 2010 and was ¼ funded in 2011. As a result, this year’s team was new to monitoring consisting of five high school students and four college students. Education of our new members was a primary focus. Members of the 2012 CBMT follow: Clair Thomas – (Tillamook SD9 Natural Resource Director) project lead, 11th year Lee Fledderjohann (Fremont Saw Mill lands manager) – web master, 9th year Ben Whitman (OIT junior, in computer engineering) – web assistant, 4th year Clark Hansen (UNR sophomore, in archeology) - crew boss, 4th year Brandy Larson (THS junior) - vegetation, 2nd year Aurora Price (THS junior) - vegetation, 2nd year Patricia Thomas (retired RN) – data management, 1st year Nathan Atchison (OSU junior, in natural resources) – soils and canopy, 1st year Nathan McDaniels (OSU post grad in botany) – vegetation, 1st year Kelton VanHousen (THS senior) – soils, 1st year apprentice Nathan Harlan (THS junior) – canopy and plot mapping, 1st year apprentice Josh Fledderjohann (THS sophomore) – canopy and plot mapping, 1st year apprentice The CBMT resurveyed 21 sites, established 56 new sites, carried out 760, 1/50 acre surveys to verify new sites and enter into LMS (Landscape Management System modeling program) and conducted 500 toe plots in prescribed fire areas to characterize the condition of soils within the burn. We also spent one day surveying a pond located in the Thomas Creek Prescribed fire. CBMT monitoring occurred in the following areas: 1. Ruby Pipeline Project: Seven new transects were established that traversed the pipeline project. The purpose of these transects was to gain baseline data, beginning a trend study on the recovery of the pipeline project. Of primary concern is soil recovery. The soil horizons are completely mixed and in many cases upended. The ped (aggregate) in what is now “topsoil” is lacking good structure; air and water spaces. The soil completely lacks any organic matter which helps store water, cycle nutrients, house soil biota and produce chemicals that help soil particles stick together to form peds. Soil biota, which should comprise >40% of the soil, is completely lacking in the right of way. Furthermore, when the area was reconstructed, large boulders, used as fill often leave soil spaces that are 3 - 8 feet deep and large enough to loose equipment in, which we did! We did managed to retrieve our lost equipment! Vegetative recovery is also an area of major concern. Some of the CBMT previous studies indicate that soils in which horizons are mixed have slow vegetative recovery, taking decades longer than areas where only topsoil was disturbed. Transects run from the undisturbed forest, through the partially

disturbed boundary, across the right of way and back to the undisturbed forests. The boundary areas in the transects had a large species richness (20 – 30) composed of many pioneering plants, including bull thistle, not found in the undisturbed forest sites. It will be difficult for the right of way to become established in herbaceous vegetation, however, based on previous CBMT studies on subsoiled roads. Trees that have been augured in or planted deeply may find ways to survive, but with slower growth rates. We carried out 80, 1/50 acre plot surveys for conifer regeneration for one mile along the edges of the right of way east of Rogger meadow. We found an average of 1 surviving tree per plot or 50 trees per acre, though all four survey crews found large areas (100m) with no trees at all! We also counted natural conifer regeneration in these surveys, however most were dying, probably due to poor soil structure and its inability to hold water for the seedlings. 2. Harvest Plots: Fried Timber Sale: This is a subset of the Burnt Willow Timber Sale. The area was cut earlier this year and was surveyed to add to our growing archive (Abe, Trail, High, Jacabe) of green sales with pre and post data on soils, vegetation and canopy. As with most of the recent timber harvests, the harvest was carried out conscientiously with low impact to soils and existing vegetation. Eleven of our sites were in the harvest area and two were adjacent to the harvest area. Each of the 1/10 acre plots has 10 corresponding 1/50 acre plots to get broader sampling and verify or modify the 1/10 acre sample to better represent the area. These plots focus on canopy characteristics. The plots outside the harvest area will be used as controls. Soil characteristics and vegetative succession in thinned and unthinned sites will also be analyzed. Several units around unit 19 of the Fried Timber sale were not conscientiously harvested. One third of all large (>15” DBH) trees in this harvest area were left with one or more ladder fuels. It looked like a hastily done job, leaving thickets of scrub trees (usually suppressed trees), along with the ladder fuels, and knocked over but still growing trees. Abe Timber Sale: These units were harvested in 2009. We have 21 plots in this sale area that we revisited this year. All of these plots were surveyed before and after harvest and are being used to quantify the impacts of harvest techniques. They are also being used as trend studies on growth release, vegetative recovery and soil impacts. 3. Tree Regeneration in the South Warner Fire of 2002: This investigation involved walking four endless transects, 200m apart, and taking conifer regeneration data every 50m using 1/50 acre plots. We found very few seedlings in past or present studies. About 200 plots total were recorded in harvested and non harvested areas. We found an average of 50 trees per acre over all, but most of the trees (around 70%) were close to roads and were planted. One

of our transects did not intercept any trees in or out of our plots for 300m. The density away from roads averaged 30 trees per acre. In areas that had not been replanted there were about 10 trees per acre. These were more clumped than those in planted areas, leaving large areas without trees. The dominant brush was Ceanothus covering 85% of the landscape and often around 5-6 feet tall, swallowing the researchers as they plied their way through searching for regenerating conifers. In the south west area of the burn, above the road there were many older (5 years old) conifer regen that died this year. 4. Prescribed Fire: Strawberry Prescribed Fire: The strawberry prescribed fire was carried out by the forest service this spring (2012). The purpose of this study is to determine the impacts of prescribed fire on soils, herbaceous vegetation and canopy. Impacts, are heavily dependent upon the severity of the burn in any one area. We set up six, 1/10 acre plots spread throughout the burned area and then conducted 60, 1/50th acre subplots to verify our findings in the larger plots. The 1/50 acre plots were also used to determine live to dead crown ratios, distance of crown from ground, depth of fried burned soils on the surface of the ground, amount of downed wood left and whether the wood had decomposing organisms associated with it. We also conducted toe plots on endless transects every 15m parallel to the road about 1/3 and 2/3 of the way up the slope. This involved around 300 toe plots. Toe plots consisted of recording soil condition (burned or unburned) at the location where your right big toe steps on the 15th stride. The condition of the ground cover (vegetation, thatch, scattered litter or bare ground) was also recorded. Most of the area had scattered litter before the fire and the majority of burned soils were bare, with no cover. The Strawberry prescribed burn stretched about 2 ½ miles along road # _?__. The northern most 2 miles of the prescribed burn was ineffective burning less than 20% of the intended area and leaving many small trees and seedlings. The last 3/4 mile (just before Strawberry Lake) was effectively burned removing most regeneration and understory trees. The northern areas had not been thinned before the fire while the southern ends had been thinned. The hottest fires in the southern end left many stump holes, as well as a one acre “blowout”. In spite of this the heavily burned appearance the southern end matches the desired result more than the “safely burned” northern end. Future surveys (in 5 years) will reveal which areas received the most appropriate treatments. The CBMT made a presentation on the LSG forest tour at the southern end of the burn contrasting the reality of the southern burn with the prescription of the forest service and pointing out that a crown survival of 40% may be necessary to get the required effect on thinning understory trees. If the northern area is included in the overall analysis, the strawberry burn falls within, or less than the target goals of the prescription. It will be interesting to see if the fire in the southern areas were hot enough to cause massive sprouting of Ceanothus velutinus (there was a lot of Ceanothus prostratis before the prescribed burn).

Thomas Creek Prescribed Fire: The Thomas Creek prescribed fire was carried out in the fall of 2010. The 2000 acre prescription took about 1 month and brought with it a lot of local complaints. We chose this area to investigate because of public interest in it. We set up eleven, 1/10 acre transects spread throughout all of the units that were burned to validate the condition of soils, vegetation and canopy 2 years after the burn. We also carried out ten, 1/50th acre subplots in each area (total of 110) to verify the 1/10th acre plots, as well as several hundred toe plots where soil condition was recorded. We also set up 2 plots in unburned boarder areas of the burn to compare burned trends with unburned trends on soil, vegetation and canopy. Unit 2, the largest unit, was the most affected by severe fire with all of the “blowouts” occurring in this unit. 5 blowouts around 3-5 acres in size were cataloged. Transect TC-04 runs through a blowout in the area of highest elevation of Unit #2. Ironically, this site was a stop on a previous LSG tour (2004) demonstrating how thinning can be used to create well spaced stands of large trees that will have a better chance of withstanding fire. In spite of the 4 acre “burnout” the area does show a remarkable ability to withstand fire as most of the 80 acre parcel was thinned of regenerating trees and understory not removed in the harvest. The prescription for the unit allowed for multiple, one acre blowouts that would increase the forest mosaic. The northwestern end of Unit 2 also had a major blowout of 80 acres with no live trees and 120 acres of severly burned forest. The upper portion had been partially thinned previously, but the lower portion was composed of doghaired thickets. The prescription allowed for thick stands to be thinned using fire. We saw a couple of areas where this was effectively done, but found most thicketed areas burned heavily with frequent small blowouts. The thinned, upper portion of the 80 acres was populated by large trees (DBH >18”), a mix of ponderosa pine and white fir. Soils in this area were covered with friable burned soil material to a dept of 2 cm on average. There were many burned out stump holes (usually trees cut long ago), and the ground was covered predominately with 3 species of cryptanth, a small pioneering plant whose small hairy seeds are easily spread by wind and wildlife. Ceanothus seedlings were also prevalent. This area will probably become covered with ceanothus and follow the recovery of a severe forest fire. The other units in the burn were not severe, with few to no blowouts and often with large areas left unburned. When all units are combined the results meet the conditions allowed by the prescription. If unit 2 is considered alone, then the results exceeded those allowed by the prescription, mostly due to the 80 acre blowout. As was similar with the Strawberry prescribed burn, most of the units burned demonstrated results that were less than effective with respect to regeneration, thinning and understory removal. The greatest effectiveness was reached in Unit 2. Even the 3-5 acre blowouts may be acceptable since they are surrounded by trees that can reseed them. Future surveys will reveal the ability of

the surrounding trees to repopulate the blowouts. The only disaster, totally in violation of the prescription, was the 80 acre blowout. Future trend surveys will reveal whether this responds slowly like a severe forest fire or much faster due to its small size compared to the large forest fires we have monitored. Future burns may require more aggressive use of fire as observed in Unit 2, while finding ways to avoid the huge blowouts. We did see a lot of deer, bear sign, a cougar, a weasel and a large variety of birds in this area, supporting studies that link increased wildlife with prescribed fires. We saw a wider diversity of animals in this area than in the other areas we surveyed throughout the summer. 5. Aspen Regeneration: Three, 1/10th acre plots were set up in unit 51 of the West Drews harvest area. These sites were placed in aspen stands to see how aspen respond to removal of conifers. Conifer removal is thought to cause aspen expansion at the rate of several trees per year, conserving energy in the stand making it more resilient. Standard treatments in the past have involved: 1. Cutting mature aspen which causes an increase of hundreds of trees per cut tree using up large reserves in the root system and 2. Burning aspen which results in an increase of thousands of tree per acre using up reserves in a few years. The three sites were chosen to test the ability of aspen to expand based on the increase of water in the soil from the harvested conifers as well as to test the idea that aspen take up and drip water at the extremities of their lowest branches supplying water at the edge of the aspen grove for new shoots thus expanding the aspen grove. One transect was placed in an aspen stand with a wide flood plain over 100m across that succeeds to upland vegetation before the slope increases. This site will test soil hydration and aspen expansion in level areas. The other two sites were in narrow flood planes (30m and 50m) that were bounded by upslopes to observe soil hydration and aspen expansion on slopes. All 1/10th acre sites had from 7 to 10 medium and large (10” -18”) conifers removed. The middle site also goes through a research area with vegetation cages set up to monitor grazing. In addition to the normal data the CBMT gathers on soil, vegetation and canopy, we also recorded the age of all young aspen through 10 years so we could accurately describe the recruitment of aspen sprouts in response to the treatments. We also set up an aspen study in the Thomas Creek Prescribed Burn. There is a 2 acre pond in the 80 acre blowout described earlier in project 4. The pond was surrounded by mature conifers with 4 large aspen within a 50m section bordering the west side of the pond. All of the trees were killed, including the aspen. We set up a 1/10th acre transect, perpendicular to the pond that reaches beyond any current aspen shoots in which we carried out our normal soil, vegetation and canopy surveys as well as counted and aged all aspen in the plot. We also measured the distance of the farthest aspen to the north and south along the pond and drew a map of the current stand. It will be interesting to see how recovery of this burned aspen site compares to conifer treated aspen sites. The CBMT currently has 18 aspen sites with permanent transects running through them.

6. Thomas Prescribed Fire; burned out pond. This pond is the same pond described in the last paragraph of project 5. The focus of project 5 was aspen recovery. In addition to aspen studies we also inventoried the pond for depth, aquatic vegetation, emergent marsh and animals. We chose to name the pond, Frog Pond, because of the large number (about 600!) Pacific Tree frogs we counted, based on first jumps, as we circled the pond. The pond also had large numbers of water boatman, backswimmers and giant water bugs which all feed high on the food chain attesting to the large number of low order consumers feeding on pond weeds and alga in the pond. When the CBMT revisited the pond 2 weeks later tdhere were hundreds of swarms of yellow jackets on all sides of the pond eating water bugs. The average depth of the pond was around 3 feet though one area was over 5 feet. The pond has 11 pieces of old large downed woody debris that were recruited from the large trees around the pond before it burned. In the next few years the pond could become inundated by many more pieces of large woody debris since the pond is lined with hundreds of large conifers. The evolution of this pond over the next 10 year will be a fascinating study giving insight into the response of small bodies of water to severe forest fire, silting, chemical changes and macrobiota shifting. 7. Beetle Kill in the Red Zone: This study involved three areas; Campbell lake, Deadhorse lake and the Ring timber sale at the turnoff of Lee Thomas Crossing. Around 100, 1/50th acre plots were examined around and between Campbell and Deadhorse lakes. Three 1/10th acre transects were established in the Ring Timber sale and 40, 1/50th acre surveys were conducted to validate the data from the 1/10th acre transects. The purpose of these surveys was to continue the trend analysis of soil, vegetation and canopy response to beetle kill in the Red Zone. Extra data was taken in all plots on tree growth release (DBH and height) as well as on soil moisture around dead trees compared to live trees. DBH growth release is still around 1.5 times higher than it was before the beetle infestation. This is similar to the growth release measured 3 years ago. Soil moisture is still higher around dead trees and lower around live trees similar to CBMT studies conducted three years ago, though the ratio has dropped from 40% higher around dead trees to about 20% higher around dead trees. Lower soil water levels around live trees is probably due to the increase in growth of lodgepole pine as well as an increase in herbaceous and shrubby vegetation throughout the areas. At current trends, using strait line linear regression, the difference in soil moisture could become negligible in another 5 years. In all new sites we continue to measure the basal area of dead and living lodgepole with diameters greater than 10 inches to test 5 years of previous data showing that stands with of lodgepole where the basal area has been reduced to less than 30inches 2 for all lodgepole with DBH’s greater than 10 inches tend to be missed by beetles, while stands with basal areas greater than 40 tend to sustain 100% mortality on all lodgepole with diameters greater than 10 inches. We also measured the amount of deadfall that has occurred. Five years ago we predicted

that ¼ of all standing dead lodgepole would be falling within 5 years. Our surveys reveal that deadfall is still the exception and is negligible except within isolated pockets where, interestingly, most have fallen. (Rock Springs, etc.). There are still concerns over soil plasticization from wildfire that CBMT research has shown could easily occur if deadfall occurs in a short period of time creating large piles of jackstrawed trees. CBMT research examined soil bisking based on burning contorta pine logs and leaf litter on soils taken from the Red Zone. Hydrocarbons released from 2 year old conifer needles were driven into the ground, cooling and condensing on mazama ash soils resulting in plastic snowflake matrixes that reduced water holding capacity, water retention and increased water percolation. Most of those needles are now gone or are very dry. The remaining trees are dropping a few fresh needles, but the volume of needles present in the past is missing. This may reduce the bisking affect that we found earlier. The fact trees are not falling in mass will also reduce fire temperatures to the ground and diminish the bisking effect. This project continues to be one of great fascination. Next Year: The Barry Point fire occurred towards the end of this field season and will be a major focus in next years monitoring. The fire burned around 90,000 acres including the East Drews project area slated for work during the next few years. The western border of the fire was the West Drews project area where work is currently being done. The fire appears to have missed the sites we established this year in the West Drews project area.