Bobette, E. Jones
Inventory and Risk Assessment of Aspen on the Eagle Lake Ranger District, Lassen National Forest
Bobette, E. Jones, Wildlife Biologist, Eagle Lake Ranger District, Lassen National Forest, Susanville, California,Coauthor Tom H. Rickman
An aspen inventory and risk assessment project is being conducted on the Eagle Lake Ranger District (ELRD), Lassen National Forest. This project was initiated due to observed declines in health and distribution of aspen stands on ELRD. Objectives of this project are to 1) produce a complete inventory of aspen on ELRD by 2004, and 2) provide stand-specific management recommendations and include these recommendations in NEPA documents that will allow the required restoration activities to take place. Each aspen stand is delineated using Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and assessed based on risk factors identified by Bartos and Campbell (1998). Management recommendations are based on observed stand conditions. To date, 557 stands totaling 1,278 hectares with a mean stand size of 2.1 hectares have been inventoried. Eighty-three percent of the stands have received a High or Highest priority rating, indicating that aspen are at risk. Aspen is considered a keystone species, and aspen communities are critical for maintaining biodiversity in western landscapes. Loss of aspen can be attributed primarily to successional processes that occur in the absence of natural fire regimes and with excessive browsing. Continuation of these processes that have existed for the past 100-140 years on the ELRD will result in the eventual loss of most aspen stands. ELRD’s extensive inventory and restoration efforts are an attempt to avoid this loss.