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    Author(s): Andrea Watts; Tim HarringtonDave PeterRobert Slesak
    Date: 2019
    Source: Science Findings 220. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 5 p.
    Publication Series: Science Findings
    Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (1.0 MB)


    In the Pacific Northwest, clearcutting is the preferred method for harvesting wood products from Douglas-fir plantations because it’s economical and mimics a large-scale disturbance. Following a clearcut, Douglas-fir seedlings are planted throughout the recovering native plant community. Yet the newly planted seedlings and native plants aren’t the only vegetation claiming the open ground. Invasive plant species, such as Scotch broom and sweet vernalgrass, can also colonize the site and compete with the seedlings for water, nutrients, and light.

    Eradicating Scotch broom requires repeated herbicide applications, but even this approach might not fully control the infestation. Tim Harrington and David Peter, both researchers with the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, conducted a 5-year study near Matlock, Washington, to test if logging debris, in combination with herbicide applications, could reduce the spread of Scotch broom and other invasive plants; thereby improving regeneration of Douglas-fir.

    They found that leaving logging debris reduced the spread of invasive plants and encouraged the development of the native plant community. Douglas-fir seedlings on these sites also grew faster and had higher survival rates than seedlings on sites where logging debris was removed. These results suggest that retaining logging debris offers a potentially cost-effective and beneficial long-term solution for managing invasive plants.

    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.


    Watts, Andrea; Harrington, Tim; Peter, Dave; Slesak, Robert. 2019. Managing competing vegetation in Douglas-Fir plantations: The benefits of forest floor complexity. Science Findings 220. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 5 p.


    Logging debris, retention, invasive species, nonnative plants, scotch broom, Douglas-fir.

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