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White Ash Decline Hazard Assessment and Management Strategies in Massachusetts Stands

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White ash decline is characterized by diminished growth rates and vigor, and premature mortality. Reducing its impact should be a primary management objective in stands with a white ash component. Two methods to identify Massachusetts sites with high hazard of decline were developed using continuous forest inventory (CFI) data. Method 1 uses a vegetation-based estimate of relative soil moisture availability and landscape position data to calculate a decline hazard index (DHI) for the site. A DHI > 1.0 indicates a high hazard site. Four of 18 CFI plots with ≥25 % white ash BA had DHI > 1.0. Field observations in 1991 confirmed ash decline on three of the four plots. Trees on the remaining 14 plots were healthy. Method 2 uses site index (SI) and rooting restriction type (from soil maps) to assign sites to one of three classes, and does not require the collection of field data. Class 1 (SI ≥70, deep soils or dense substratum) and class 2 (SI ≤65, all soil types; SI 70, soils with bedrock at 20-40 in.) sites have a low decline hazard. Class 3 (SI 70-75, soils with bedrock at ≤20 in.) sites have a high hazard. Method 2 was tested on a data set of 74 CFI plots with ≥10% ash BA. Differences among site classes in the numbers of plots with decline were significant (P = 0.0016), with decline on 6% of plots in class 1 and 11% in class 2, compared with 42% of plots in class 3. Method 1 should be more accurate since vegetation data are collected onsite, and it integrates the many variables influencing soil moisture available to plants. Method 2 is quicker and easier to apply. Its accuracy could be improved by collecting soil data onsite. North. J. Appl. For. 14(1):10-15.
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Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Department of Forestry and Wildlife Management, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003

Publication date: 1997-03-01

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