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Category: Ecological Research

Title: Fact Sheet: Ecological and Social Implications of Employing Diameter Caps at a Collaborative Forest Restoration Project Near Flagstaff, Arizona

Author: * Stoddard, M.T.

Subject: Diameter caps, Social Implications, Collaboration, Forest Restoration

Abstract: The issue of implementing diameter caps continues to permeate collaborative land management discussions and treatment decisions on public lands throughout the western United States. In the Southwest, this typically means not cutting ponderosa pine trees 16 inches or greater in diameter. Proponents of diameter caps believe that size limits are ecologically and socially necessary in order to protect “old growth” trees from being harvested during restoration thinning operations. Opponents typically view diameter caps as arbitrary and, at times, restrictive in terms of reducing excess fuels and reaching forest restoration goals, including emulating natural or historic forest structural and functional patterns. Collaborative efforts have be-come an influential process to deal with such controversial land management issues. Collaborative partnerships can provide stake-holders a place to discuss ecological and social concerns and, in many cases, increase the chance of successful project implementa-tion. A Flagstaff-based collaboration, known as the Greater Flagstaff Forest Partnership (GFFP), emerged in 1996 in response to unprec-edented, stand-replacing fires that scorched tens of thousands of nearby forest. The premise of the collaboration was to identify ap-proaches to forest management that could reduce the hazard of stand-replacing wildfires and restore resilient forest conditions on U.S. Forest Service-managed lands at the Fort Valley Experimental Forest. Members of the collaborative developed a project to test alternative restoration treatments. The first phase of the project did not employ a diameter cap. This sparked a controversial public debate between restoration proponents and sever-al environmental groups about the validity and appropriateness of restoration efforts and the proposed restoration treatments for Phase II. Ultimately, the collaborative group agreed to implement a 16-inch diameter cap as part of the thinning prescription for the second phase of what became known as the Fort Valley Ecosystem Restoration Project. The Ecological Restoration Institute monitored the ecological results of the project (Phase I) and also studied the social aspects of the collaborative effort. This fact sheets presents some of the key findings of that effort to under-stand the ecological and social results of the Fort Valley Ecosystem Restoration Project.

Date: 2015

Type: Fact Sheet

Source: ERI - Fact Sheet

Identifier: 2p.

Publisher: Ecological Restoration Institute

Format: PDF

Language: English