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Zachary Thomas, Vermejo Park Ranch, zthomasri@gmail.com (Presenter)
Kristen Waring, Northern Arizona University, Kristen.Waring@nau.edu

 

Southwestern ponderosa pine forests have undergone drastic shifts in structure since Euro-American land use practices including fire exclusion, logging, and livestock grazing were implemented in the late 19th century. Treatments consisting of a combination of overstory density reductions and/or prescribed burning have been implemented with increasing frequency in order to counteract the effects of these changes. The objectives of this study were to investigate the effectiveness of these treatments on Vermejo Park Ranch from economic and ecological perspectives. We collected overstory and understory data from 30 stands across a range of treatments, including no recent harvest, thinned, and thinned and burned. The Forest Vegetation Simulator was used to model future forest conditions under different uneven-aged management paths. We calculated soil expectation value (SEV) for each pathway and used this information to suggest optimal future management. We calculated basal area increment and modeled potential fire behavior and used these data as an analog for treatment effectiveness and stand sustainability. Our results indicate that these restorative treatments have positive effects on economic and ecological management objectives.