Ecological Monitoring

Ecological Monitoring Program

Lomakatsi field technicians monitoring herbaceous understory plants as part of a forest restoration project in the Tiller Ranger District.”

Lomakatsi field technicians monitoring herbaceous understory plants as part of a forest restoration project in the Tiller Ranger District.

Lomakatsi employs ecological monitoring as a tool to understand and improve restoration treatment effects on the landscape in our project areas. Monitoring tools range from simple observation to photo documentation, detailed data collection, and analysis. Lomakatsi’s monitoring falls into two major categories: effectiveness and implementation monitoring.

Effectiveness Monitoring
– Vegetation Monitoring
In the Ashland Forest Resiliency Project (AFR), our Oak Restoration program, and our Ecological Workforce Training programs we work with project partners on various aspects of vegetation monitoring design and implementation. Vegetation monitoring typically includes quantification of tree density, volume, composition and age structure; cover and composition of understory plants; ground fuel measurements; topographical information; and photo monitoring. This data may allow for documentation of pre- and post-treatment conditions, quantification of treatment effects, and baseline documentation for future, long-term ecological studies.

This type of vegetation monitoring may be termed “effectiveness monitoring” when used to measure the effectiveness of restoration treatments in accomplishing stated goals. For example, collection of ecological data before and after prescribed treatments allows partners of the Oak Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI) to assess treatment effectiveness, and develop science that informs future oak woodland restoration and management.

Baseline vegetation assessment is also an important part of the process of prescription development and implementation. We collect pre-treatment vegetation data in forest plots to inform prescription development and to get real-time feedback in the field while marking and implementing prescriptions. This data informs our project designers, crews, and project partners, and documents forest conditions during the preparation and implementation phases of our projects.

Post prescribed burn fire effects are monitored as part of a forest restoration project in the Ashland Watershed.

Post prescribed burn fire effects are monitored as part of a forest restoration project in the Ashland Watershed.

– Fire Effects Monitoring
Lomakatsi is currently developing a Fire Effects Monitoring program to complement our vegetation monitoring and further inform our Prescribed Fire Program. A range of fire effects from low to high severity are desirable from a restoration perspective, and expanded data collection on pre-fire conditions, during-fire conditions, and post-fire burn effects will help us refine our adaptive approach to prescribed fire.

Implementation Monitoring
Lomakatsi’s implementation monitoring spans the full range of our programmatic work, from the stand scale, to the project scale, to the program scale. Project supervisors review monitoring and treatment plans, review the mark in the field, and then conduct final inspections following cutting, piling and burning. This level of implementation monitoring occurs internally on both small and large projects, and also in collaboration with project partners on larger projects and programs. 

Lomakatsi Forestry Technician Jeff  Harrison measures the diameter of a “Legacy” ponderosa pine to be protected in the Ashland Forest Resiliency Project.

Lomakatsi Forestry Technician Jeff Harrison measures the diameter of a “Legacy” ponderosa pine to be protected in the Ashland Forest Resiliency Project.

Current Ecological Monitoring Initiatives
– AFR
The Ashland Forest Resiliency Project (AFR) is a long-term restoration initiative with multiple project partners that Lomakatsi has been a part of since 2010. Lomakatsi utilizes implementation monitoring throughout all phases of its work on AFR. At the project scale Lomakatsi technicians and supervisors review the mark and subsequent cutting operations with crews, while at the program scale, Lomakatsi serves on technical review teams to help identify and review program goals and objectives. In addition to technical implementation monitoring, AFR project partner The Nature Conservancy has conducted extensive ecological monitoring in the Ashland Watershed. More about monitoring in the AFR can be found by clicking here.

– The Central Umpqua-Mid-Klamath Oak Habitat Conservation Project: A Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI)

Lomakatsi Forest Technician Ryan Puckett measuring the circumference of a white oak in Douglas County, to be protected in the Central Umpqua-Mid-Klamath Oak Habitat Conservation Project (CCPI)

Lomakatsi Forestry Technician Ryan Puckett measuring the circumference of a white oak in Douglas County, to be protected in the Central Umpqua-Mid-Klamath Oak Habitat Conservation Project (CCPI)

Lomakatsi is the lead sponsor of a partnership between the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Klamath Bird Observatory to promote conservation practices that help restore declining oak habitats on private lands. Ecological monitoring is a key component of this restoration work. Pre-treatment vegetation monitoring was collected at many of the treatment areas in Jackson, Siskiyou and Douglas Counties between 2011 and 2013. Post-treatment vegetation monitoring is scheduled to begin in 2014. The desired purpose of this ecological monitoring effort is to measure restoration of habitat. To accomplish this, Lomakatsi and the Klamath Bird Observatory have teamed up to measure changes to both bird and vegetation communities following the treatments. More about the Klamath Bird Observatory can be found by clicking here.

A field biologist from the Klamath Bird Observatory performs bird counts on one of Lomakatsi’s oak restoration projects.

A field biologist from the Klamath Bird Observatory performs bird counts on one of Lomakatsi’s oak restoration projects.

Bird habitat and populations are being studied by the Klamath Bird Observatory across all three project counties using a treatment and control study design. More intensive study of vegetation is being conducted by Lomakatsi in Jackson County, Oregon, using a pre and post-treatment study design. In addition, bird research is being performed concurrently with vegetation study plots in Jackson County to allow greater analysis of bird habitat preferences and restoration effects. So far data has been collected for bird research at 143 treatment, and 87 control sampling points across all three counties. Vegetation is being intensively studied at 56 permanent plots in Jackson County

At the CCPI program scale, implementation monitoring through collaborative field visits to project sites allows project partners to assess treatment progress and efficacy. During visits, managers, scientists, and planners are often asked to discuss and answer specific questions regarding restoration treatment implementation practices and processes. Information is shared among the group and valuable dialogue is stimulated that is later summarized and integrated into the implementation process. 

Related Projects

– Klamath Forest History Reconstruction

Klamath Tribes Forestry Technician Wauseka Brown performs field inventory  work to inform  the development of a stem map,  working  with Lomakatsi on a forest history reconstruction study  in the Klamath Reservation Forest ( Fremont-Winema National Forest).

Klamath Tribes Forestry Technician Wauseka Brown performs field inventory work to inform the development of a stem map, working with Lomakatsi on a forest history reconstruction study in the Klamath Reservation Forest (Fremont-Winema National Forest).

Lomakatsi is currently working in partnership with the Nature Conservancy and the Klamath Tribes’ Natural Resource Department to reconstruct historic forest structure in several areas of the Fremont-Winema National Forest. Lomakatsi and Klamath Tribe staff received training from Derek Churchill (Stewardship Forestry), and Jerry Franklin (University of Washington) on stem mapping techniques in May, 2013. Since then, Lomakatsi and the Klamath tribe have mapped 12 forested stands, documenting forest structure prior to the onset of Euro-American land management.

Links to project partner websites and ecological monitoring websites

US Fish and Wildlife Service, Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program

— USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI) Program

Klamath Bird Observatory

Useful Ecological Monitoring Resources from the National Parks Service:

— Ecological Monitoring in Parks 

— Fire Effects Monitoring

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