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Forests 2018, 9(3), 101; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9030101

Overlapping Bark Beetle Outbreaks, Salvage Logging and Wildfire Restructure a Lodgepole Pine Ecosystem

1
USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fort Collins, CO 80526, USA
2
Colorado Forest Restoration Institute, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 14 January 2018 / Revised: 21 February 2018 / Accepted: 24 February 2018 / Published: 27 February 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wildland Fire, Forest Dynamics, and Their Interactions)
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Abstract

The 2010 Church’s Park Fire burned beetle-killed lodgepole pine stands in Colorado, including recently salvage-logged areas, creating a fortuitous opportunity to compare the effects of salvage logging, wildfire and the combination of logging followed by wildfire. Here, we examine tree regeneration, surface fuels, understory plants, inorganic soil nitrogen and water infiltration in uncut and logged stands, outside and inside the fire perimeter. Subalpine fir recruitment was abundant in uncut, unburned, beetle-killed stands, whereas lodgepole pine recruitment was abundant in cut stands. Logging roughly doubled woody fuel cover and halved forb and shrub cover. Wildfire consumed all conifer seedlings in uncut and cut stands and did not stimulate new conifer regeneration within four years of the fire. Aspen regeneration, in contrast, was relatively unaffected by logging or burning, alone or combined. Wildfire also drastically reduced cover of soil organic horizons, fine woody fuels, graminoids and shrubs relative to unburned, uncut areas; moreover, the compound effect of logging and wildfire was generally similar to wildfire alone. This case study documents scarce conifer regeneration but ample aspen regeneration after a wildfire that occurred in the later stage of a severe beetle outbreak. Salvage logging had mixed effects on tree regeneration, understory plant and surface cover and soil nitrogen, but neither exacerbated nor ameliorated wildfire effects on those resources. View Full-Text
Keywords: disturbance; forest management; mountain pine beetle; subalpine ecosystem; Colorado; Rocky Mountains disturbance; forest management; mountain pine beetle; subalpine ecosystem; Colorado; Rocky Mountains
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Rhoades, C.C.; Pelz, K.A.; Fornwalt, P.J.; Wolk, B.H.; Cheng, A.S. Overlapping Bark Beetle Outbreaks, Salvage Logging and Wildfire Restructure a Lodgepole Pine Ecosystem. Forests 2018, 9, 101.

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