Short-term impact of post-fire salvage logging on regeneration, hazardous fuel accumulation, and understorey development in ponderosa pine forest of the Black Hills, SD, USA
We examined the impacts of post-fire salvage logging on regeneration, fuel accumulation, and understorey vegetation and assessed whether the effects of salvage logging differed between stands burned under moderate and high fire severity following the 2000 Jasper Fire in the Black Hills. In unsalvaged sites, fire-related tree mortality created a large standing pool of available fuel, resulting in a rapid increase in surface fuel loads. After 5 years, fine woody debris (FWD) and coarse woody debris (CWD) increased ~1380% and 980% in unsalvaged sites, resulting in FWD and CWD loads of 13 and 25Mgha-1, respectively. In contrast, salvage logging limited the rate of accumulation of FWD to ~110% over the same time period and total accumulation of CWD to 16Mgha-1. In moderate-severity sites, regeneration was 75% lower in salvaged sites owing to low seed-tree retention, suggesting a re-evaluation of salvage guidelines during future operations in the Black Hills. The likelihood of timely regeneration in high-severity sites, regardless of salvage treatment, is low.We found no discernible effect of salvage logging on understorey development 5 years after fire. Logging caused neither a reduction in total plant cover nor an increase in the abundance of exotic species.