Chequamegon-Nicollet National Forest: Medford Aspen 2

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Planning

Staff from the Chequamegon-Nicolett National Forest used the Adaptation Workbook in the winter of 2015 to evaluate management activities for a 29,000-acre vegetation management project. 

Staff from the Chequamegon-Nicolett National Forest used the Adaptation Workbook in the winter of 2015. The rest of the project planning team contributed additional ideas and refined the Proposed Action for the project (available below), which was released in July 2016 for a formal public comment period. There were not any formal objections to the project, and the National Forest is responding to public comments and completing their Environmental Analysis for a final decision in the winter of 2016-2017.

Project Area

The Medford Aspen 2 project area is about 29,200 acres, of which about 25,800 acres is federal ownership. Of the approximate 25,800 acres of National Forest System land, a little less than one third is lowland/wetland and a little more than two thirds is upland (about 68 percent). Upland forest types in the project area are comprised of about 67 percent aspen with other hardwood types, balsam fir, paper birch, red pine, white pine, and white spruce comprising the remaining 33 percent of the upland. The project area is located on the Medford-Park Falls Ranger District, on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, approximately 10 miles northwest of Medford, Wisconsin.

Management Goals

Aspen regeneration 1 year after a clearcut harvest.

Nearly all of the forest land in the Medford Aspen 2 project area is classified as Management Area 1A, which means that management emphasis is towards early successional forest communities with aspen being the most prevalent tree species. Human-caused disturbance that maintains early successional communities can be evident and frequent in this landscape. Aspen is maintained in a variety of age classes with the use of even-aged management. The primary management goal is to address roughly 2700 acres of older declining aspen, much of which is approaching 60 years of age and losing the ability to regenerate itself back into productive, healthy aspen forest. Another goal is to regenerate old paper birch stands through shelterwood harvests on about 240 acres, because the average age of paper birch stands is 83 years old in this project area. Boosting early-successional habitat in this landscape will provide habitat for a variety of wildlife species, including grouse, woodcock, and the golden-winged warbler. 

Climate Change Impacts

A massive road washout from a heavy precipitation event in northern Wisconsin in the summer of 2016.
For this project, the most important anticipated climate change impacts include:
Fewer days with extreme cold, less reliable snowpack, and warmer winter conditions, because over 70% of the project area is designated as "winter only" for forest management operations.
Heavy rain events may cause erosion and overwhelm culverts

Adaptation Actions

Medford Aspen 2 project team members used the Adaptation Workbook to develop several adaptation actions for this project, including:

Area/TopicApproachTactics
Aspen
5.1. Promote diverse age classes.
Regenerate half of all aspen over 46 yrs old with clearcut harvest
Regnerate some aspen within the 35-45 year age class to create more young aspen.
6.1. Manage habitats over a range of sites and conditions.
Continue to manage aspen across a range of soil types and habitats, including some wetter areas that may retain soil moisture in the future.
9.1. Favor or restore native species that are expected to be adapted to future conditions.
Consider current species diversity in aspen stands and look for opportunities to encourage species that are less at risk of decline.
9.3. Guide changes in species composition at early stages of stand development.
In a 65-acre aspen stand along the Ice Age Trail, transition from aspen to long-lived species by performing a shelterwood harvest and follow-up planting with white pine, red pine, hemlock, and northern red oak.

Monitoring

Project participants identified several monitoring items that could help inform future management, including:
Aspen regeneration, aiming for at least 60% survivial
Ruffed grouse population, with drumming route surveys
Stand-level species diversity, through stocking surveys at 3 and 5 years post-harvest

Project Documents

Next Steps

The National Forest is responding to public comments and completing their Environmental Analysis for a final decision in the winter of 2016-2017. When the project is formally approved, work will occur over the next 10 years.

Learn More

To learn more about this project, contact Stephen or learn more at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=48388

Keywords

Upland hardwoods, Early-successional habitat, Regeneration

Last Updated

Monday, November 7, 2016