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Jeremy Fried, USDA Forest Service PNW Research Station, jsfried@fs.fed.us (Presenter)
Andrew Gray, , agray01@fs.fed.us
Thom Whittier, Oregon State University, Thom.Whittier@oregonstate.edu

 

Nearly half of forested lands in California, Oregon and Washington are contained within the boundaries of national forests that are currently managed very differently than private forests in these states. It has been widely assumed that national forests produce climate benefits via carbon sequestration, both on lands reserved from timber production where succession proceeds without intervention, and on actively managed lands from which forest carbon is transformed into long-lived products or energy, producing significant benefits from substitution. We analyzed 5,410 revisited national forest inventory plots to obtain estimates of carbon flux in live, dead and down wood pools in relation to stand attributes and recent disturbance history. Patterns of carbon flux are presented, for example, by pool, geographic area, and productivity class, and the magnitude and impact of carbon removals via harvest is assessed. Some results have been surprising. For example, in California, there was no significant increase in live tree carbon in reserved forests and most of the increases on undisturbed lands were offset by decreases in burned forests. Accumulations of live-tree carbon on the west side of Oregon and Washington are contrasted by little change and some declines on east side forests. Fires, rather than ageing trees or harvests, are driving the carbon balance of some national forests, and this has significant implications for the prospect of capturing climate benefits under current management.