Cross-Site Studies Take Root across the Southern Experimental Forest Network

Most of the 19 southern experimental forests were founded in the 1930s or 1940s. Over the past five years, they have become something new: the SRS Experimental Forest Network. “Each experimental forest is a regional asset,” says Stephanie Laseter, a USDA Forest Service scientist and network co-lead. Johnny Boggs is also a co-lead. “When part…  More 

The Southern Experimental Forest Network

The Southern Research Station of the USDA Forest Service manages 19 experimental forests that function as living, transpiring laboratories. They are scattered across 10 states, separated by hundreds of miles, and many are approaching 80 years old. Most of them are located on national forests. Five years ago, SRS began linking the 19 experimental forests…  More 

Top Ten of 2020

As 2020 comes to an end, it is a good time to gather our most-read CompassLive stories from the past year. Each one highlights the work of USDA Forest Service scientists at the Southern Research Station. We hope you enjoy reading this collection, which includes the most popular of 2020 plus a few more that…  More 

Working Together Towards Chestnut Restoration

On November 3, about forty people from the USDA Forest Service and The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) gathered virtually. It was the second biennial plan of work meeting between TACF and SRS. Since the 1990s, the two organizations have worked together on American chestnut (Castanea dentata) restoration. In 2017 and in 2019, they committed to…  More 

Lessons from Forest Soils Research

“Soils are the foundation of everything in terms of growth and productivity,” says USDA Forest Service researcher Jennifer Knoepp. Knoepp explains that “soils have integrated all the conditions that have resulted from the growth of an ecosystem” and thus reflect the past and present vegetation, climate, and biology. This profound interaction between soils and life…  More 

Carbon Pools and Fluxes in Southern Appalachian Forests

An estimated 35 percent of the global terrestrial carbon is stored in soil and biotic carbon pools, such as forests. These pools can store or release carbon. Because forests store immense amounts of carbon, forest management is becoming part of efforts to increase carbon sequestration and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Long-term research from the USDA…  More 

Hill Demonstration Forest Joins Experimental Forest Network

The USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station and the North Carolina State University College of Natural Resources recently signed an agreement adding NC State’s Hill Demonstration Forest to the SRS Experimental Forest Network. The Hill Demonstration Forest covers more than 2,600 acres in the Carolina Slate Belt and has a variety of forest types and…  More 

Impact of Fire Management on Breeding Birds in the Southern Appalachians

To increase the prescribed “burn window” for reaching restoration goals, land managers are now burning during winter (the dormant season) as well as spring and summer (the growing season) and fall. Management goals often include fuel reduction, oak regeneration, habitat improvement for target wildlife species, and forest restoration to conditions once created by Native Americans…  More 

Trees Survive Windstorms in Upland Hardwood Forest

In 1995, Hurricane Opal toppled trees throughout the South, including parts of the southern Appalachians. Wind is a common canopy disturbance in upland oak-hickory forests, but little has been reported on naturally formed large gaps of more than six trees where a partial canopy remains. With Erik Berg, SRS researchers Stanley Zarnoch and Henry McNab…  More 

After Fire, Red Oak Seedlings Resprout

Disturbance – from fire and subsistence living to widespread exploitative logging – enabled the growth of oak (Quercus) forests across the eastern U.S. These disturbances are not common today. Reduced disturbance, coupled with a long-term increase in moisture availability has been good for non-oak trees, which establish and grow under the older oak canopy –…  More