Crossett Experimental Forest

In 1934, the Crossett Experimental Forest was established about 11 km south of the town of Crossett in Ashley County, Arkansas, from a donation of 680 ha of land by the Crossett Lumber Company (now Georgia-Pacific Corporation) to the Southern Forest Experiment Station (now the Southern Research Station). The Crossett Research Center was the first USDA Forest Service branch research station in the South. Previously, all field research had been conducted from station headquarters in New Orleans, LA.

Research on forest management in second-growth loblolly and shortleaf pine stands was to be conducted and demonstrated to forest managers and landowners throughout the South. During the following six decades, Forest Service researchers associated with the Crossett have published more than 1,000 articles on forest management and silviculture. More than 45,000 foresters, students, landowners, and university staff have visited the Experimental Forest and benefited from its research.

Currently, the forest is managed by the Southern Research Station's unit in Monticello, Arkansas, and is affiliated administratively with the Jessieville and Winona Ranger District of the Ouachita National Forest.

Climate

The Crossett has a subtropical temperate climate. Over the 68-year period of record, annual temperatures averaged 17.6° C and annual precipitation 1,410 mm. On average, March is the wettest month and September the driest; August, the hottest month and January, the coldest. The frost-free period is about 240 days. Occasional glaze storms are severe enough to damage vegetation in the area, and high winds have been associated with localized tree damage.

Soils

The Crossett is located in the western Gulf Coastal Plain. Soil types are oriented in relation to several intermittent drainages. Arkabutla silt loam (Aeric Fluvaquents) occurs in the floodplain along the drainages. Providence silt loam (Typic Fragiudalfs) usually occurs on side slopes along the drainages, and Bude silt loam (Glossaquic Fragiudalfs) is found on upland flats. Providence and Bude soils were formed in thin loessial deposits. A number of "pimple mounds" or Mima mounds occur on the flats between the drainages. Site index for loblolly and shortleaf pine ranges from 26 to 29 m at 50 years.

Vegetation

The 32-ha Reynolds Natural Area is a mature, closed canopy pine-hardwood stand that has received little human intervention since 1934. The remainder of the Crossett is under management for natural pine sawtimber except for streamside management zones. Loblolly pine is the dominant species, with lesser amounts of shortleaf pine. About 40 percent of the area is under even-aged management and 60 percent under uneven-age management. The goals of both silvicultural systems are to produce large, high-quality, sawtimber trees. Rotation lengths for even-aged stands are 40 to 60 years, and reproduction methods include patch clearcuts, seed trees, and shelterwoods. Although some group-selection cutting is done, most of the uneven-aged stands are managed using single-tree selection.

Long-term Databases

At the Crossett, weather records date back to 1934, though several years of data in the mid-1970s are missing. Inventories of the Good and Poor Forties Demonstration Areas began in 1936 and are repeated about every 5 years. Trees in the Reynolds Natural Area were inventoried in 1937 and about every 10 years since. Monitoring understory vegetation began in 1952 and is conducted about every 10 years. Inventories of the Methods of Cut Demonstration Area began in 1942 and were repeated at 5-year intervals, though there are some gaps. Pine seed production has been monitored annually since 1978.

Research, Past and Present

Historical studies have focused on all aspects of the silviculture of natural pine stands. Hallmark research was conducted on developing techniques for competition control, the rehabilitation of understocked pine stands, and the uneven-age management of loblolly and shortleaf pine. Current research includes studies on group-selection opening size, thinning regimes for rapid sawtimber production, impacts of competition control on pine growth and yield, and the use of silvicultural practices to create an old-growth stand character.

Current demonstration areas include research on methods of cut for regenerating pines, converting plantations to uneven-age structure, rehabilitating understocked pine stands, obtaining natural pine regeneration using clearcutting or the seed-tree method, and using controlled burning for competition control in uneven-aged stands.

Major Research Accomplishments and Effects on Management

Many practices for effective control of competing vegetation were developed and tested on the Crossett, and much of our knowledge about how to create and sustain uneven-aged stands of loblolly and shortleaf pines was developed here. Silvicultural practices used to regenerate and tend to natural even-aged stands of loblolly and shortleaf pines were also developed at the Crossett.

Collaborators

Collaboration has included researchers with the University of Arkansas-Monticello, Arkansas Forestry Commission, and Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

Research Opportunities

Research opportunities at the Crossett include all aspects of the management of natural pine and pine-hardwood stands, the impacts of silvicultural practices on nontimber resources such as soils, wildlife, and visual properties, and the use of forest demonstration areas to help educate the public about good forestry practices.

Facilities

Headquarters is located 11 km south of Crossett, Arkansas, on Highway 133. Facilities include an office building, wood-working shop, soils laboratory, gas/oil storage building, chemical storage building, 3-car garage, greenhouse facility (not currently used), and a residence. The office has a conference room that seats 35 people. The office building, gas/oil storage building, and 3-car garage are on the Federal Register of Historic Buildings. Many miles of improved gravel roads provide excellent access to demonstration and research areas.

Lat. 32°2′ N, long. 91°57′ W

Contact Information

Crossett Experimental Forest
USDA Forest Service
Southern Research Station
P.O. Box 3516, UAM Station
Monticello, AR 71656
Tel: (870) 723-1623

or

Crossett Experimental Forest
USDA Forest Service
Southern Research Station
4472 Highway 133 South
Crossett, AR 71635
Tel: (870) 364-8730

Related Publications

Reynolds, R.R. 1980. The Crossett Story: The Beginning of Forestry in Southern Arkansas and Northern Louisiana. Gen. Tech. Rep. SO-32. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Dept of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station. 40 p.

Summary information presented here was originally published in:

Adams, Mary Beth; Loughry, Linda; Plaugher, Linda, comps. 2004. Experimental Forests and Ranges of the USDA Forest Service. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-321. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station. 178 p.

Information may have been updated since original publication.

Last Modified: 10/25/2012