Herbicide Treatment Monitoring
Controlling non-native invasive plants is an important goal of the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration (CFLR) program. In 2011, CFLR funds are being used in the SW Crown to
implement both roadside and aerial herbicide treatments with the goal of reducing non-native invasive plants along roadsides and in interior, un-roaded habitats. In order to understand the efficacy and ecological impacts of treatments, a portion of these aerial and roadside herbicide units within the SW Crown are being monitored. Specific monitoring questions include:
- Was the abundance of target invasive plants (e.g., knapweed) significantly reduced in response to herbicide treatments?
- Does herbicide application reduce the abundance of non-native invasive plant seeds in the seedbank?
- Is there secondary invasion by non-target, non-native invasive plants after herbicide treatments?
- What is the impact of treatments on native plants and their communities (aerial treatments only)?
Monitoring is being conducted on all three Forest Service ranger districts within the SW Crown (Swan Lake, Seeley Lake, and Lincoln), with five types of treatments for roadside sites (herbicide only, herbicide & native grass seeding, native grass seeding only, herbicide-repeat application, and untreated control; Figure 1) and four types of treatments for aerial-spray sites (herbicide only, herbicide & native grass seeding, native grass seeding only, and untreated control). During summer 2011, crews are collecting pre-treatment data, including abundance (cover and frequency) of nonnative and native plants. In fall 2011, the abundance of non-native and native plants in the seedbank will be tested through germination trials conducted in collaboration with local schools. First-year post-treatment sampling is planned for 2012.
Figure 1. Sampling design at each road site, including location of a belt transect, experimental plots (a), subplots for estimating percent cover of understory vegetation, tree regeneration, and ground cover (b), soil sample collections for soil and seedbank analyses (c), pan traps for determining insect abundance (d), and point-line intercept transects for measuring invasive plant frequency (e). There will be five treatment types at roadside sites (herbicide only, herbicide & seeding, seeding only, herbicide-repeat applications, and untreated control).
Fuels Treatment Monitoring
One of the primary goals of the CFLR Program and the SWCC is to reduce available fuels and modify future fire behavior within the wildland-urban interface (WUI). In 2011, data on fuels are being collected at sites proposed for both mechanical fuels reduction treatments and prescribed fires in the near future. These pre-treatment measurements will help determine the effectiveness of the treatments in reducing potential fire behavior. Data on tree densities, understory composition, downed woody material, and litter levels are being collected in both proposed treatment areas and at control sites with similar characteristics outside treatment areas. Field work is being conducted by Forest Service fire management personnel and by a local conservation and education organization, Northwest Connections. Pre-treatment plots are being installed at sites on all three SW Crown ranger districts in 2011.
In 2011, a limited survey of nine contractors is being conducted to help identify some of the potential economic impacts of CFLR funding in the SW Crown and to improve economic models to be used in future years. Contractors that received CFLR funding for forest restoration work in 2010 were identified by the Forest Service and contacted about setting up a short interview. Interviews are being conducted by a graduate student in the University of Montana’s College of Forestry and Conservation. Contractors are being asked about their general business characteristics, the types of work they perform, their employment, and their non-labor expenses. The anonymous results will provide a range of local values to validate and improve inputs into economic models which are currently run with values representing the entire Northern Region of the Forest Service and will help the SWCC understand and report the economic impacts of the CFLR Program in the SW Crown.