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    Author(s): Marie Oliver; Thomas Spies; Andrew Merschel
    Date: 2014
    Source: Science Findings 168. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 6 p.
    Publication Series: Science Findings
    Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (6.55 MB)


    Until recently, scientific understanding of the history and ecology of the Pacific Northwest's mixed-conifer forests east of the Cascade Range was minimal. As a result, forest managers have had limited ability to restore the health of publicly owned forests that show signs of acute stress caused by insects, disease, grazing, logging, and wildfire.

    A recent study co-authored by a Pacific Northwest Research Station research forester revealed that the traditionally used term "mixed-conifer forest" is too broad for ecological management. The study fills a knowledge gap by providing evidence about how the pattern and timing of land-use effects in mixed-conifer forests vary with regard to topography, elevation, and climate. It specifies four major types of mixed-conifer forests in central Oregon and provides an ecological foundation for restoring each type.

    The study reveals that all mixed-conifer types are considerably denser than they were prior to the onset of fire exclusion in the late 1800s and suggests that the effects of fire suppression on composition and structure are most evident in the types found in warm, moist environments. It provides evidence that selective harvesting in the 20th century halved the density of large, fire-resistant pines in older forests. Findings are helping stakeholder groups come together on a shared vision for restoring mixed-conifer forests in central Oregon.

    Publication Notes

    • Visit PNW's Publication Request Page to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Oliver, Marie; Spies, Thomas; Merschel, Andrew. 2014. Reality check: Shedding new light on the restoration needs of mixed-conifer forests. Science Findings 168. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 6 p.


    mixed conifer forest, central Oregon, restoration, Tom Spies

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