Early Research at Bent Creek

Margaret Abell, for many years the only woman employed as a professional forester by the USDA Forest Service, worked at Bent Creek during the 1930's

Margaret Abell, for many years the only woman employed as a professional forester by the USDA Forest Service, worked at Bent Creek during the 1930's

Beginning in 1927, work centered on rehabilitation of land that suffered from past abuses such as erosion from poor farming practices, overgrazing, exploitive logging (“high-grading”), and frequent burning. In 1930, one of the first clearcuts in the Southern Appalachians was designed to regenerate and study a site that had been high-graded. Known as the "Buell Plot," this is the oldest area at Bent Creek for which detailed data on hardwood regeneration and stand development are available. Other early research focused on white pines, which were used for erosion control and timber production on the Biltmore Estate and Bent Creek.

During World War II most silvicultural research was suspended, and field studies were maintained on a custodial basis. Studies continued in wildfire detection, forest pathology, and forest products.

Trays of spruce and fir cones in a natural reproduction study, 1926.

Trays of spruce and fir cones in a natural reproduction study, 1926.

In 1946, research emphasis changed to large-scale tests of silvicultural systems for hardwoods. Compartments averaging 150 acres were established to compare uneven-aged and even-aged silvicultural systems, long and short rotations, and extensive and intensive stand improvements. Some work continued with white pine.

In the early 1960's, most large scale tests were abandoned in favor of intensive data collection on numerous small research plots. Large-scale plots did not provide the level of detail needed to understand site-specific ecological relationships. Long-term studies were started on growth and yield of yellow-poplar stands, regeneration of northern red oak on good quality sites, and the indirect estimation of site quality from soil-site relationships.

Early white pine plantation established on eroded land.

Early white pine plantation established on eroded land.

Bent Creek Experimental Forest

Bent Creek Experimental Forest
1577 Brevard Road
Asheville, NC 28806

Phone: (828) 667-5261
Fax: (828) 667-9097