Scientific Investigations Report 2006-5087

Scientific Investigations Report 2006-5087

BLM Density Management and Riparian Buffer Study: Establishment Report and Study Plan

In cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management, the Pacific Northwest Research Station, Oregon State University, and the Cooperative Forest Ecosystem Research Program

By John Cissel, Paul Anderson, Deanna Olson, Klaus Puettmann, Shanti Berryman, Samuel Chan, and Charley Thompson


The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Pacific Northwest Research Station (PNW), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and Oregon State University (OSU) established the BLM Density Management and Riparian Buffer Study (DMS) in 1994 to demonstrate and test options for young stand management to meet Northwest Forest Plan objectives in western Oregon. The primary objectives of the DMS are to evaluate the effects of alternative forest density management treatments in young stands on the development of important late-successional forest habitat attributes and to assess the combined effects of density management and alternative riparian buffer widths on aquatic and riparian ecosystems.

The DMS consists of three integrated studies: initial thinning, rethinning, and riparian buffer widths. The initial thinning study was installed in 50- to 80-year-old stands that had never been commercially thinned. Four stand treatments of 30-60 acres each were established at each of seven study sites: (1) unthinned control, (2) high density retention [120 trees per acre (TPA)], (3) moderate density retention (80 TPA), and (4) variable density retention (40-120 TPA). Small (1/4 to 1 acre in size) leave islands were included in all treatments except the control, and small patch cuts (1/4 to 1 acre in size) were included in the moderate and variable density treatments. An eighth site, Callahan Creek, contains a partial implementation of the study design.

The rethinning study was installed in four 70- to 90-year-old stands that previously had been commercially thinned. Each study stand was split into two parts: one part as an untreated control and the other part as a rethinning (30-60 TPA).

The riparian buffer study was nested within the moderate density retention treatment at each of the eight initial thinning study sites and two rethinning sites. Alternative riparian buffer widths included: (1) streamside retention (one tree canopy width, or 20-25 feet), (2) variable width (follows topographic and vegetative breaks, 50 feet slope distance minimum), (3) one full site-potential tree height (approximately 220 feet), and (4) two full tree heights (approximately 440 feet).

A second round of density management manipulations are now being planned for implementation beginning in 2009. Stem density will be reduced in the high, moderate, and variable density treatments and most existing riparian buffers, leave islands, and patch cuts will remain in place.

Remeasurement, data management, and analysis are ongoing for three long-term, core components of the DMS: vegetation, microclimate, and aquatic vertebrates. In addition, several short-term collaborative studies have been completed on these sites, including leave island effectiveness as refugia, treatment response of terrestrial and aquatic arthropods, and smaller-scale studies of fungal, lichen, and bryophyte community response. Additional collaborative studies are encouraged on DMS sites.


Study Design
Study Sites
Component Studies
Collaborative Studies
Treatment and Measurement Schedule
Study Administration
Opportunities and Needs
Literature Cited
Appendix A
Appendix B
Appendix C
Appendix D
Appendix E
Appendix F

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