When managing for biodiversity, it's all about habitat. The photo above shows what a healthy forest is composed of. There is a mix of mature trees, decadent trees and logs, dominant trees, shade tolerant trees, and diverse plant species. There is a complex canopy, young trees, and understory development, large rotting logs on the forest floor and pre-interactive niche diversification. Healthy stands are in limited supply in the park, but this is one in the North 250. It is prime habitat for a wide variety of wildlife. This forest stands guard over our streams and wetlands, and buffers and protects them from our incursions. Compare this complex forest to the one below.

Doug fir monoculture

This photo is typical of stands of trees that were planted in the park as a crop, much like rows of corn. This is great for efficient production of commercial timber, but lacks canopy diversity and complexity due to the "even age" of these trees. This stand lacks specie diversity because only one specie was planted after harvest, and competing species were suppressed. These trees are in what foresters call the "stem exclusion phase" of their growth. They are so close together the lower limbs are dying from lack of sunlight. This stand has been pre-commercially thinned and if commercial thinning (these trees have some commercial value) isn't accomplished soon, these trees will lose vigor and resilience, and the ground cover will die out from lack of sunlight reaching the forest floor.

Fuel loading in forest

This stand in the N250 is the result of a DNR clearcut around 1990. The forest product industry collapsed around this time, and DNR funding for pre-commercial thinning (these trees have no commercial value) dried up. As a result, this stand was never thinned, and is very high in combustible biomass. Most of these trees are dead and it will cost money to have this stand thinned. This is the worst example in the park, but there are other areas almost as bad.

Madrone Hardwood patch

This Madrone patch is located along Old Timber trail, and provides essential cover and soft mast for migrating birds. These trees are becoming less common in Kitsap County. They are messy in an urban landscape setting, and often removed by homeowners. They are phototrophic, meaning they grow toward sunlight, and are often seen growing at an angle, leading people to believe they are ready to fall. Stewards are maintaining this small stand as a soft mast producing hardwood patch monoculture. Other sources of soft mast encouraged in the park are rose hips, elderberry, evergreen huck, and salal.

Alder ready to fall across trail

This Red Alder has died, and snapped during a windstorm. It is being held up by an adjacent fir, and could fall with the slightest breeze. These dangerous trees are very difficult to safely drop, and even with chainsaw certification, stewards are not allowed to drop these trees.

Laminated Root Rot

Diseases are a part of the ecosystem, and there are two significant tree diseases found in the park. The most common is Laminated Root Rot, and second growth Douglas fir is highly susceptible to this disease. It is spread underground when infected tree roots come in contact with other tree roots. It persists for many decades in the soil, and planting resistant species (Deciduous trees and Western Red Cedar are immune) is the best way to contain this disease.

Pineblister Rust

Pine Blister Rust attacks all 5 needle pines. Our Western White Pine is a five needle pine and there are areas of significant tree death from this introduced disease. An infected pine tree, does not infect another tree, but infects a secondary host where the disease will winter over. The secondary host spreads the disease to other pine trees. Currant and Gooseberry host this disease at lower elevations, and Indian Paint Brush flowers host it at higher elevations. This disease was introduced to Washington around 1910.

Ecosystem Management

It is impossible to learn everything there is to know about taking good care of our parks forest lands, and a lifetime of learning would still be insufficient. If you would like to learn a lot about how forest ecosystems work I would recommend reading Creating a Forestry for the 21st Century. Kathryn Kohm and Jerry Franklin edited this compilation of technical papers on how best to promote healthy forests, diverse wildlife habitats, and protect watersheds in the northwest. There are many other good references out there as well. A local resource we have been using is the Washington State University Extension Office and Kitsap County Department of Community Development's Surface and Storm Water Management division Stream Stewards. They have provided, equipment, classroom instruction and field trips to help gather data on the health of our forested uplands. In return, for this help Stewards have helped gather important information on the health of our forest lands, and streams. Stewards helped inventory tree stands and gather data for input into the Land Management System over the summer. This system is a computer modeling program that projects forest growth out as much as 300 years.

What is a Complex Forest

A complex forest is one with a developed understory, dead trees and snags, dominant and subordinate trees, and canopy stratification. If you want to read more about managing our Second-Growth forests go to USDA's website in Olympia.

Fire Mitigation Strategies

Shaded Fuel Break

Ladder fuels in forest Ladder fuels removed Work party members

On Saturday the 19th of January, stewards, friends and Klahowya AP Environmental Science class students removed standing dead trees, and ladder fuels in the N250 area of the park west of the Little Anderson Beaver Pond. This area is in sad shape. There are many trees that died due to crowding, and a lot of ladder fuel created from dead lower limbs on firs and hemlocks. Ladder fuels and standing dead trees are an invitation for a ground or surface fire to become a crown fire. All standing dead trees were removed and piled near Old Timber Trail for chipping, and ladder fuels were removed from ground level up to about 8 feet. It's not about preventing fires, it is about mitigating and limiting a fires intensity. Reducing fuel loads will reduce fire damage in the park. A ground fire will only kill about 20% of trees, while a crown fire usually kills more than 70%. We could have created another firebreak (Old Timber Trail doubles as a firebreak and trail), but that would entail removing all trees and duff down to mineral soil. We want our trees and duff to remain on the forest floor to help soak up the winter rains, and prevent erosion. The Shaded Fuel Break reduces fuel loading while keeping duff and ground cover in place. This keeps the forest floor moist, reducing the potential for, and damage from a wildfire while providing food and cover for wildlife. To learn about protecting your home at the forest urban interface, check out this WSU Extension service PDF file. WSU LOGO

Firebreaks

Old Loop Road Easement maintained as firebreak

Our best example of a firebreak is Old Loop Road. It is maintained shoulder to shoulder to stop groundfires that could approach the Natural Heritage Wetland from any compass heading. Stewards took advantage of an existing easement to create a firebreak on the northwest side of the park. This right of way was created to bring water, and gas to CKFR station 56. There are fire hydrants every 660 feet along this easement. and fuels are reduced by mowing and chipping.

Culverts Located and Marked

One step closer to compliance with the new Forests and Fish Law was taken Sunday the 21st of August.

Culvert #9 outlet before cleaning.Cleaning culvert #9 outfall

Culvert markers were installed, and several culverts were cleaned. Special thanks to Curt Segerman, Dustin Brewer, Colen Corey, Joanne Corey, Frank Stricklin, Cooper Campbell. Inspection and cleaning will continue into fall.

Outfall after cleaningCurt and Dustin install first culvert marker

RMAP's Plan

We have developed a Road Maintenance and Abandonment Plan for the park. This plan will primarily affect Old Loop Road, as there are 18 culverts that carry winter rains under this old DNR road. The trail committee long range objective is to keep Old Loop Road, as a road prism and a fire break. This will allow emergency and maintenance access to the parks interior, and recreational use for ADA, family hiking and biking. The new Fish and Forests law says we must have a maintenance plan in place OR an abandonment plan in place, by 2016. These culverts have been in the ground for more than 50 years, and are being inspected and cleaned, some will need to be replaced. If you want to read more about the new law click here WFPA's Website. We hope to have things stabilized by winter 2011.

Managing for

Biodiversity

Requires


Repeated thinning


Gap Creation


Promoting tree species diversity


Maintaining hardwood patches


Promoting mast producing species


Retaining biological legacies


Maintaining adequate supply of dead wood standing and downed


Promoting growth of largest trees


Protecting riparian areas


Underplanting


Paraphrased from Diversifying Forest Structure to Promote Wildlife Biodiversity in Western Washington Forests

WSU Extension EM044


Biodiversity is not a 'set aside' issue that can be physically isolated in a few , or even many, reserves. We must see the larger task.....stewardship of all the species on all of the landscape with every activity we undertake as human beings. A task without spatial and temporal boundaries. (J.F. Franklin 1993)