Authored by J.D. McIver; Published 2015
The Summit Post-fire Logging Study was conducted on the Malheur National Forest in Oregon from 1997 through 2011. The study was intended to examine the effects of logging after a severe wildfire burned through a set of 12 stands just north of the Middle Fork of the John Day River, Malheur County. The 16,000 hectare (ha) Summit Fire was caused by a lightning storm on August 13, 1996, on the North Fork John Day Ranger District (Umatilla National Forest), burned south onto the Long Creek Ranger District of the Malheur National Forest, and was declared officially controlled on September 16, 1996. Within the Malheur Forest portion of the Summit Fire, an area of 8,103 ha (72%) was judged to have burned at high severity (>80% large trees killed), including much of the area in the lower elevation ponderosa pine forests, which typically experience lower severity fires. The short-term effects of post-fire logging were evaluated by conducting a controlled, replicated experiment between 1997 and 1999. Logging occurred in the summers of 1998 and 1999, and consisted of the application of three treatments (un-logged control, commercial, and fuel reduction), applied to 12 experimental units (stands) in four replicate blocks. Data were taken from within about 258 measurement plots in the 12 units (stands) in 1997 (post-fire, pre-logging) and again in 1999 (post-fire, post-logging). The longer-term effects of post-fire logging on fuels and stand structure were evaluated by re-measuring fuel and stand structure variables in 2011, 15 years after the Summit Fire, and 13 years after post-fire logging. The Summit Post-fire Logging Study database consists of data on fuels and stand structure, taken in 1997, 1999, and 2011. It is important to note that no management activities had occurred within the Summit study area between the initial logging work (1998, 1999), and the intermediate-term measurement year (2011). However, on August 8, 2008, 10 years after post-fire logging at Summit, a small, moderate, surface wildfire (the Sunshine Fire) occurred in the eastern portion of the study area, and burned through most of the easternmost Block 4. This small wildfire was effectively controlled within two days after ignition, by fire personnel of the Malheur National Forest (Roy Walker, Malheur National Forest, pers. comm.) Although this wildfire removed one entire replicate block from the original experiment, it provided us with an opportunity for a controlled test of the logging treatments with an actual moderate severity wildfire. This published dataset therefore, consists of plot-level data on fuels and stand structure taken in 1997, 1999, and 2011, to study both short and longer-term post-fire logging effects as well as the effects of the subsequent reburn that occurred 10 years after post-fire logging. It is also important to note pre-treatment data for block 3 was taken in 1998 rather than 1997 because of a necessary reassignment of treatments prescribed by NEPA. Finally we note that the longer-term plot level data for unit 3F (block 3, management unit 419, fuel reduction treatment) was taken in 2014 due to our failure to find the plots in that unit by 2011.