Friday, August 10, 2018

Eagle Fern Park

Date of Visit: August 9, 2018
Type of event: Study tour
Topic: Old-growth forest ecology
Location: Eagle Fern Park, Estacada, Oregon
Tour Guide: Bruce G. Marcot, Ph.D. / Research Wildlife Biologist, USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station
International Fellows: Jeen Bunnik (Netherlands), Meei-ru Jeng (Taiwan), Xuejiao Li (China), Thammarat Mettanurak (Thailand), Tuan Manh Phan (Vietnam)
WFI Staff: Shadia Duery / International Fellowship Manager, Vivian Bui / Professional Programs Coordinator

This study tour showcased a small patch of old-growth Douglas fir-sword fern forest on the outskirts of Portland. Eagle Fern Park is a county park in Clackamas County, Oregon.

Five percent of old-growth forests, defined as forests at least 120 years old, in the Pacific Northwest have been preserved thanks to the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP). The NWFP has five major goals:
  1. Never forget human and economic dimensions of the issues;
  2. Protect the long-term health of forests, wildlife, and waterways;
  3. Focus on scientifically sound, ecologically credible, and legally responsible strategies and implementation;
  4. Produce a predictable and sustainable level of timber sales and nontimber resources; and
  5. Ensure that federal agencies work together. 

Topics we discussed included:

  • How to manage second-growth forests to become old-growth, including thinning practices to create a multilayered canopy, longer rotation periods, and the retention of snags for wildlife habitat and nutrient cycling
  • The role of salmon as indicator species of water quality and prey availability in streams and rivers
  • Climate change and a changing fire regime, specifically the shift from intermittent, moderate-intensity fires to frequent, high-intensity, stand-replacing fires
  • The importance of nurse stumps and logs in nutrient cycling and the formation of new forest soil

Finally, we identified plants typical of an old-growth forest ecosystem in the Pacific Northwest, such as:

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