Upland hardwood field research in Arkansas
Established in 1951, the Henry R. Koen Experimental Forest (Koen) is located in northern Arkansas, and consists mainly of oak-hickory upland hardwood forest and oakpine stands. Named for Henry R. Koen, forest supervisor of the Ozark National Forest in the first half of the 20th century, the experimental forest was established to develop scientific principles for forest management. At 720 acres, the Koen is the smallest of the 19 experimental forests managed by SRS.
Forest Service facilities include an office, garage, and workshop. The Koen also features a handicapped accessible nature trail established in collaboration with several local civic organizations. Visitors from across the United States and around the world use the trail and picnic area.
Through 1979, research at the Koen focused on upland hardwood forests with a staff of 4 scientists and a team of 12 technicians. Researchers conducted numerous studies from the early 1940s to the late 1970s which included the effect of stand structure on white oak stands, forest inventory sampling design, improvement harvesting, and small woodland management. Two long-term datasets resulted from research at the Koen: a study of redcedar that began in the 1940s and ran through the early 1960s, and a watershed study that ended in the late 1970s.
Today, the Koen serves as the fieldwork base for SRS upland hardwood research across Arkansas. SRS research forester Martin Spetich manages the Koen, where he and two permanent field technicians are implementing 17 major studies. The integrated research program addresses upland hardwood forest dynamics and the development of both short- and long-term studies at three scales: individual tree, stand, and region. These studies address forest species restoration, quantitative silviculture, development of forest management methods, forest ecology, disturbance ecology, landscape ecology, climate change, forest biomass, and diversity of Arkansas upland hardwood forests.
The role of fire in upland hardwood forests is an important element of the research. One of two keystone studies compass—april 2009 analyzes the effect of fire on species dynamics in the Ozark-Ouachita Highlands and examines burned and unburned areas in combination with a number of other treatments. The other keystone study is being done at the landscape scale. Spetich and University of Missouri collaborator Hong He are adjusting LANDIS (a landscape disturbance model) to predict future impacts of current management across the Boston Mountains in Arkansas.