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Soil Disturbance Following Whole-Tree Harvesting in North-Central Maine

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Mechanical whole-tree harvesting can reduce site productivity if it results in excessive soil disturbance, which may both kill advanced regeneration and reduce the potential of the soil to support tree growth. Large feller-forwarders with wide, high flotation tires were designed to reduce soil disturbance, but they can cause excessive amounts of site disturbance if harvesting is conducted when soils are wet. The spatial distribution and severity of soil disturbance were determined on line transects after a spring whole-tree clearcut in northern Maine on the silt loam soils of the Chesuncook catena. Exposed mineral soil and deep wheel ruts occurred more frequently on somewhat poorly (37% of surface area) and poorly (42%) drained soil than on moderately well-drained soil (19%). This amount of site disturbance seems excessive and could reduce future site productivity due to removal of organic horizons and destruction of advanced conifer regeneration. Harvesting with large feller-forwarders on the poorly and somewhat poorly drained silt loam soils of this region should be discouraged in the spring and possibly during other periods of high soil water tables. North. J. Appl. For 8(2):68-72.
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Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station, Durham, NH 03824

Publication date: 1991-06-01

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  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Northern Journal of Applied Forestry covers northeastern, midwestern, and boreal forests in the United States and Canada.
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