Field Projects

In May 1992, a set of interim guidelines were implemented outlining the adaptive management approach that silviculturists should take in managing coastal valleys with important grizzly bear habitat. The guidelines: identify the ecosystems associated with grizzly bear forage production; provide the recommended revised stocking standards for those ecosystems; list the primary grizzly bear forage species; and set parameters for conducting and monitoring field operations.

A number of operational field projects were set up to test a variety of different silvicultural techniques for compatibility with grizzly forage production.

With one of the most promising techniques, conifer seedlings are planted in groups or clusters, leaving open areas for growing berry-producing shrubs and other forage species. Herbicides may be used selectively in the conifer clusters, but not in the open areas. The size of the clusters, the number of trees per cluster, and the open space or gaps between the clusters are varied to determine the impacts on forage production, tree growth, and overall treatment costs. Cluster planting projects are currently underway in the Kimsquit and Kwatana Valleys near Bella Coola, the Kitimat Valley near Terrace, the Kingcome Valley north of Powell River, and in several other coastal valleys.

Juvenile siblings in floodplain understorey

Field projects have also been established on previously reforested coastal sites. For example, brushy overgrown sites are being treated to create clusters of conifers, while existing open areas are retained for growing grizzly forage. On overly-dense reforested sites, spacing and pruning are being carried out to test a variety of gap patterns, sizes, and configurations for their impact on forage productivity and timber value.

Other projects involve monitoring previously reforested sites that already have some openings in the forest cover where grizzly bear forage species are well established. These sites are not manipulated in any way, but are simply monitored and assessed for grizzly forage production and timber quality and volume. The information obtained from this kind of monitoring is used to fine tune operational field procedures.

Photo credits.

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