Management Goals & Treatments

What approach best prepares forest ecosystems for climate change? Adaptation options occupy a continuum of management goals related to their levels of desired change. A team of natural resource specialists and researchers developed a set of desired future conditions, objectives, and tactics for the San Juan National Forest based on three climate adaptation approaches:

RESISTANCE  

maintain relatively unchanged conditions over time

San Juan National Forest; Photo Credit: Mike Battaglia, Rocky Mountain Research Station
San Juan National Forest. Photo Credit: Mike Battaglia, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station

Management Goal: Retain the same species composition as in pre-harvest stand, with slight reductions in white fir, and maintain all species, especially if poorly represented

Strategies & Approaches: 

  • thin to 60-90 ft2/acre 
  • maintain even and consistent spacing 
  • retain the same species composition as in pre-harvest stand of ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir, and aspen, with a slight reduction in white fir
  • retain stand structure to resist the increase of growing space for shrub components and the likelihood of creating a new cohort of conifers that would act as ladder fuels to the existing co-dominants and dominants in the stands   

RESILIENCE 

allow some change in current conditions, but encourage eventual return to original conditions

San Juan National Forest; Photo Credit: Molly Roske
San Juan National Forest. Photo Credit: Molly Roske 

Management Goal: Heavily favor fire-adapted and drought tolerant species across all size classes and create openings in the stand

Strategies & Approaches: 

  • thin to 60-80 ft2/acre 
  • create high variability in spacing with openings up to 1 acre
  • expand openings off of existing natural openings in the stand structure 
  • retain trees in closely spaced legacy groups with multiple size classes and species 
  • increase drought-tolerant and fire-adapted species (ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir) 

TRANSITION

San Juan National Forest Transition Treatment; Photo Credit: Molly Roske
San Juan National Forest Transition Treatment. Photo Credit: Molly Roske 

actively facilitate change to encourage adaptive responses

Management Goal: Retain the most fire-adapted and drought tolerant species

Strategies & Approaches: 

  • create high variability in spacing with a canopy openness target of 30-40%, average 40 ft2/acre of basal area 
  • increase drought-tolerant and fire-adapted species (ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir) 
  • maintain aspen in swales on north slopes 
  • remove all white fir 

Each of these treatments are currently being applied and replicated 3 times across a 400-acre landscape on the San Juan National Forest. Treatments are currently marked, and harvest of the treatment units is anticipated for 2017.