Structure of a ponderosa pine forest on tribal lands in the southwestern US

Authors: Amanda B. Stan*, Department of Geography, Planning and Recreation, Northern Arizona University, Peter Z. Fulé, School of Forestry, Northern Arizona University
Topics: Biogeography, Physical Geography
Keywords: ponderosa pine, Native American forests, tree rings, prescribed fire
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

We examined the current structure of a ponderosa pine-dominated forest on the Hualapai tribal lands in Arizona. From nine 0.04-ha plots within each of five 25-ha research sites that were previously installed for a study of surface fire history, we collected forest structure and composition data, which included tree-ring samples from over 600 living trees. Preliminary results suggest the forest is numerically dominated by younger ponderosa pine, primarily from a cohort that established around 1919. Gambel oak, pinyon pine, and Utah juniper are also present in the forest, with each showing a more balanced distribution of ages and sizes. Compared to forests on public lands, forests on Native American lands have generally been managed using uneven-aged silvicultural systems for longer periods. Although few older ponderosa pine trees are present in the Hualapai forest, current uneven-aged management practices may set this forest up to be more resilient as climate warms, impacting carbon stocks. Future resiliency may be further improved given that prescribed fires, which approximate the frequent surface fire regime of the past (pre 1887), have been implemented in this forest since the 1960s.

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