Stand conditions immediately following a restoration harvest in an old-growth pine-hardwood remnant
Portions of the Levi Wilcoxon Demonstration Forest (LWDF), a privately owned parcel of old-growth pine and hardwoods in Ashley County, Arkansas, were recently treated to restore conditions similar to some historic accounts of the virgin forest. Following a hardwood-only cut, a post-harvest inventory showed that the number of tree species in the sample area declined from 24 in 2006 (the most recent pre-harvest inventory) to 12 in 2009. Loblolly (Pinus taeda L.) and shortleaf (Pinus echinata Mill.) pine now comprise 59.2% of the remaining live trees, up from 16.2% in 2006. Between 2006 and 2009, basal area dropped from 28.2 to 16.4 m2/ha and stem density declined from 349.2 to 72.4 stems/ha, respectively. Total live biomass also fell from 224.8 Mg/ha in 2006 to 130.1 Mg/ha in 2009. While most of the pines in the LWDF are between 100 and 200 years old, ring counts on 102 randomly selected hardwood stumps yielded only one greater than 100 years old. Two-thirds of these hardwoods were less than 70 years old, having originated after the stand was set aside by the Crossett Lumber Company. Historical documentation and recent research suggest that the LWDF is now more similar to presettlement pine-dominated forests of southern Arkansas, which generally had lower stocking and fewer hardwoods.