Chewaucan Biophysical Monitoring Summary for 2009 The 2009 Chewaucan Biophysical Monitoring Team consisted of 11 participants: Clair

Thomas – project lead (8th year) Lee Fledderjohann – web master (7th year) Nathan Patla – jack of all trades (5th year) Zach Hollars – crew boss (5th year) Brittany Cramer – greenline vegetation (4th year) Jacinda Thomas – quadrat surveys (4th year) Sierra Price – quadrat surveys (2nd year) Neil Hansen – site set-up and mapper (3rd year) Clark Hansen – canopy (2nd year) Stephen Griffin – canopy (1st year) Michael Fledderjohann – soils (2nd year) Throughout the summer 207 plots were established including 74 new 1/10 acre sites and 133 new 1/50 acre sites. We also revisited 70 sites, most in carbon. The focal points of the 8th year of monitoring follow: 1. Carbon Sequestration surveys following harvest. The purpose of these surveys is to determine the net effect that harvest has on carbon storage. This data is part of a bigger study designed and conducted by WINROCK to compare carbon savings between catastrophic wildfire and reduced wildfire risk in thinned stands. 58 sites were resurveyed post harvest, and 11 sites were surveyed pre-harvest and post-harvest for a total of 69 sites. 38 sites were resurveyed from the Bull/Quill project, 20 sites were resurveyed from the Abe project - Auger Creek area, 11 pre-harvest sites were surveyed from the Abe project - Snyder Creek area and will be resurveyed in October following harvest. Survey protocols developed by WINROCK can be accessed on the website and include: canopy – 20 meter nested plots, downed wood – 50m line transect in cardinal directions, shrub – nested plot, herb – 30cm clip plot, litter – 30 cm clip plot, and wood quality – 10 samples of sound, intermediate and rotten wood. Samples are sent to the OSU Woods Lab for drying and analysis. 2. Green Harvest surveys – pre and post harvest. The purpose of these surveys is to compare the effect of harvest on growth release in trees, vegetative response / succession as well as soil characteristics including compaction, moisture, chemistry and erosion. These stands were similar in that they were all very dense containing 300 or more stems per acre and with basal areas greater than 200. Areas were thinned to basal areas ranging from 60 – 70 using mechanical harvesters. 44, 1/10th acre plots were established throughout area. They will all be harvested this year. Post harvest surveys will be one of next year’s priorities. Plots include: 10 in the Bull Stewardship project, 11 in the Kava project Coffeepot area, 21 in the Abe project– Snyder Creek area, and 2 in the High project – along the high road of the Upper Chewaucan. 3. Prescribed Burn surveys. Twelve, 1/10th acre plots were established in the Sycan area and 7 revisited in the Cox Flat slashbusting area. The purpose behind these

surveys is to compare response of soils and vegetation between moderate and severely burned areas within the mosaic of the prescribed burns. Severely burned transects ran through log decks, burned out stumps and burned out logs that smoldered until gone. Research completed last year where soils were burned in the lab at 100 C, 200 C and 400 C, indicated that severely burned soils (400 C to 800 C) became friable with fine particles clogging soils spaces reducing water holding capacity and water infiltration, increasing the potential of erosion. The lab results also indicated that soils with high amounts of litter caused soil bisking (plasticization from hydrocarbons being driven into the ground), welding silts and clays to larger sand particles with the result of reducing water holding capacity and high porosity rates which would also result in increased erosion. The field data collected this year will be analyzed in the same manner as lab tests last year and compared. In addition to normal canopy, vegetation and soil protocols, soil samples were collected from 50 burned out stump and logs as well as from the burned out zones around standing trees. These zones fell into 3 categories; 25cm zone typified by powdered black, gray and red (oxidized) soils with no vegetation, 25cm-50cm zone with gray soils and sparse pioneering vegetation, grey to light colored soils beyond 50cm being colonized by a wide variety of pioneering plants and soils in unburned areas within the mosaic. These soils were tested for nitrates, nitrites, ammonia, phosphorus and potassium as well as for texture, soil porosity, and water holding capacity. 4. Beetle Kill in old growth Ponderosa sites. A total of 3 ½ acres of old growth were resurveyed in Coffeepot Flat. Sites with a mix of Pinus contorta (lodgepole pine) and large Pinus ponderosa tended to be overstocked with basal areas greater than 300 and more than 300 stems per acre. The initial survey of these sights were conducted last year and included information on tree species, stand density and comparisons of beetle density, tree moisture and health status. Trees were painted white, blue or red based on their health status; living, infected, and beetle killed. As trees were re-inventoried this year they were repainted if their status had changed. Trees marked as infected last year tended to be dead this year. The status of healthy trees remained largely unchanged. The vast majority of infected and beetle killed trees were large contorta pine (>20cm) and small ponderosa (<20cm). Two large ponderosa (>75cm) were infected last year and were dead this year. The rest of the 50+ large ponderosa greater than 75cm appeared healthy. Bark thickness was compared between healthy and unhealthy ponderosa confirming last years observations that 3cm or more of bark in the grooves between the large flat bark plates, is enough to keep beetles from reaching cambium layers. As noted last year the largest, healthiest and fastest growing contorta were infested with beetles and dying or dead. The exceptions to this were large, wolfy contorta in the meadow, along south Coffeepot creek. A few had high beetle densities and will probably die, but most appeared unaffected by the beetle plague 30 meters away. 5. Prescribed fire and beetle surveys. The Nature Conservancy burned more than 1000 acres of beetle infested lodgepole pine in the Pronghorn prescribed fire. Beetle populations were rampant, as determined by OSU entomologists, previous to the prescribed fire in 2007. Following the fire, beetle spread appeared

diminished even though the burn was highly mosaic. We sampled 30, 1/50th acre plots to determine beetle status and stand characteristics. We also scraped many trees looking for active galleries. We found a few trees currently infected by mountain pine beetle and many trees with only dried pitch pockets indicating inactive galleries. Data will be analyzed for relationships between fire and mountain pine beetle infestations. 6. Response of thinned stands to beetle epidemic. Many acres of forest have been thinned in the past few years to improve forest and reduce the risk of catastrophic fire. While this technique works well with ponderosa pine, surveys in the last 3 years has shown a strong trend between improvement thinning in lodgepole pine and mass mountain pine beetle attacks in the red zone of the Upper Chewaucan. We surveyed 30, 1/50 acre plots in the Ingram area treated with improvement thinning leaving large lodgepole pine. We found almost 100% kill in the growth released lodgepole. 7. Other surveys: These included 2 new plots comparing compaction on skid trails with subsoil hydrology, 7 resurveyed plots in slashbust treatments, the establishment of 4 plots on recently decommissioned roads or skid trails, and 2 new plots in the High timber sale comparing mountain pine beetle and western pine beetle effects on large, old (platy) ponderosa pine.

Impressions during the summer: The crew was again impressed with the number of large trees, >45 cm, encountered throughout the forest. Notable areas included stands adjacent to the Drakes Peak road in Bulls Prairie, several in the ABE project area around Snyder creek, and scattered stands on the north side of Coffeepot Flat. Several of these stands are nearing or exceeding basal area stocking levels for trees with DBH’s > 70cm. This summer was full of wildlife sightings including bear in the Bulls Prairie, Auger creek and Snyder creek areas, bobcat in Cox flat and Sycan marsh, cougar in the west portion of Coffeepot flat, and goshawk along Auger creek and Snyder creek among others. There were also deer sighted daily with bucks composing a larger than normal proportion of those sightings. Coyotes were sighted on a weekly basis. Rivulet erosion on road-cuts was evident across much of the forest from the severe storm in early June. We have observed little erosion in past years except on recently burned soils and on the natural cut-bank along the lower Chewaucan below Marster Springs. As we carried out our surveys throughout the forest this summer, the crew commented frequently on the improving health and resiliency of the forest they had observed over the past few years. Treatments are being carried out in ways that have less impact on soils, notably compaction, and sites are recovering more quickly with mid seral herbaceous vegetation than older treatments we use for comparison. We were also impressed with the speed and skill of timber harvesters at meeting prescriptions. As stand improvement thinning continues to take place it is important to remember that diversity and forest mosaics for wildlife need equal emphasis.