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Reforestation of a Salvage-Logged High-Elevation Clearcut: Engelmann Spruce Seedling Response to Tree Shelters after 11 Growing Seasons

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High-elevation clearcut sites in the southern Rocky Mountains are difficult to reforest successfully and many sites remain poorly stocked decades after harvest. This article presents results after 11 growing seasons of a project designed to examine use of tree shelters to provide initial shade for planted Engelmann spruce (Picea englemannii Parry ex Engelm.) seedlings. Seedlings were planted in 1996 on a 48-ha site at an elevation of approximately 3,273 m in southwestern Colorado, with different shelter colors providing various shading levels. A control, consisting of shading using debris within the site, was also included. Results after 2 years were presented previously. To examine seedling response to tree shelter removal after seedling establishment, half of shelters were removed in 2000 and seedlings were reassessed in 2007. Control seedlings had lower survival (35%) than any other treatment (ranging from 59 to 78%). Shelter removal in the lightest two shelter color treatments did not reduce survival, suggesting that seedlings can grow in full sun after 4 years of shading. The best overall seedling development (i.e., survival, absolute height, and root collar diameter) occurred in the lightest shelter color with shelters removed. Tree shelters offer a viable means to restore high-elevation spruce-fir sites where past reforestation has proven difficult.

Keywords: Picea engelmannii; animal browse; reforestation; seedling shading; tree-planting

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-04-01

More about this publication?
  • 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 Western Journal of Applied Forestry covers the western United States, including Alaska, and western Canada; WJAF will also consider manuscripts reporting research in northern Mexico that has potential application in the southwestern United States.
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