The loss of oak woodlands to conifer encroachment is widely recognized as a major conservation concern. The increased occupancy of oak woodlands by Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and other conifers has been reported throughout portions of California and the Pacific Northwest in multiple oak habitat types. In California, Oregon white oak (Quercus garryana) and California black oak (Quercus kelloggii) are particularly impacted by encroachment. Studies point to altered disturbance regimes, and the suppression of low-intensity fire in particular, as the primary cause of increased conifer establishment in these oak woodlands. Much of the Oregon white oak and California black oak woodlands of California occur on privately owned land and as a result their management is subject to the standards of the California Forest Practice Rules. There are several issues in the current California Forest Practice Rules where there are disincentives to active management of the conifer encroachment issues. The California State Board of Forestry is considering development of an “oak woodlands restoration” approach to address these issues, but faces many challenges in the central design of the rules and the need to balance multiple species and management interests.
Valachovic, Yana; Quinn-Davidson, Lenya; Standiford, Richard B. 2015. Can the California forest practice rules adapt to address conifer encroachment? In: Standiford, Richard B.; Purcell, Kathryn L., tech. cords. Proceedings of the seventh California oak symposium: managing oak woodlands in a dynamic world. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-251. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station: 515-520.