The treatment went as planned. Unfortunately, the one-to-one relationship between grouse and the treatment was not directly tracked, though Dr. Gullion’s research on ruffed grouse populations continued across the stand and entire forest; results can be found in various publications and books1. Cover from conifers and drumming logs are important resources for grouse that were not specifically considered in this treatment; likely, it was assumed that these resources were being provided for in other or it was thought that these resources would develop on their own. The 2018 sample of the stand demonstrates that snags and deadwood are starting to appear but that there is no measureable conifer component. Given this, intentional establishment of white spruce or balsam fir at the time of harvest could have been beneficial to both canopy composition diversity and structural features that benefit ruffed grouse.
This historical record of one of the first timber harvest prescriptions on record with specific wildlife considerations offers a number of lessons.
1) Guidelines for retention are very much different now than in the early 1980s. The amount of retention in this prescription would probably be considered low or normal by 2018 standards.
2) Prescriptions, or components of prescriptions, that prioritize wildlife habitat creation are more common than they were in the early 1980s. This demonstrates a healthy shift towards management objectives that are more diversified than simply producing timber.
3) the low-quality of timber being produced in this stand – three to four-stick aspen – indicates that this is a good location for prioritizing non-timber production objectives or conversion to a forest community better adapted to the abiotic conditions of the site. And,
4) reserving clumps of aspen on this site does not appear to alter the quality or or reduce the quantity of aspen regeneration.
1 – Cloquet Forestry Center Research Papers and Reports, 1912 – 2011 can be found on the UMN Department of Forest Resources website: www.forestry.umn.edu/sites/forestry.umn.edu/files/cfcpapersreports.pdf; last accessed February 7, 2019