Forest Management

Management Class Designations

(Figure1) Map of SFMA mangement classes
and Reserve area designations

The forest management program in the SFMA has increased in sophistication from its beginning in the 1970’s. Today the forest is divided into several management classes (figure 1). Reserve areas represent forest conditions free from active management, riparian zones along rivers and lakes where management is focused on protecting water quality and wildlife habitat, and operational areas are open to all types of active management. The undesignated areas have yet to be classed into 1 of these 3 groups. The operational areas represent just over 50% of the total 30,000 acres, while reserve and riparian areas represent 14% and 13% (figure 2).

Figure 2. Management classes by acres and percent area.
Figure 2. Management classes by acres and percent area.

Reserve Units

Reserve areas are designated to achieve a variety of management objectives including: preservation of large areas of natural forest where ecosystem process are allowed to occur without human intervention, protection of special areas and natural communities, and establishing benchmarks or biological controls to aid managers in evaluating the influence of active management on forest ecosystems.

Riparian Management Zones (RMZ)

Riparian features like lakes and streams are critical ecological components of the landscape. SFMA management has established buffers, called Riparian Management Zones, around these features based on topographic and ecological conditions. Management activities, like timber harvests, conducted in these areas are primarily focused on water quality and habitat management goals.

Management Plans and Planning

Forestry involves many things, but planning is perhaps the most important element as the intention expressed in plans and related documentation is what separates forest management from “just logging.” Management Plans are revised on a periodic basis, generally every 10 years. Management plans cannot be consider as static documents, rather they must remain fluid and dynamic to reflect the realities of forest, market, and societal conditions. Park staff are currently working to update the comprehensive SFMA forest management plan. This planning process involves development and review of management policies and practices as well as the analysis of current forest conditions and computer model simulations of future forest conditions under potential management scenarios. A draft of this document will be available for public comment later in 2012. Below are links to planning documents used in the SFMA today and in the past.

Management Protocols, Policies, and Procedures

A variety of specific policies have been crafted to help Park staff make informed and rational decisions during events such as intense wind storms that blow down large areas of forest. Management responses to such events may involve salvaging of fallen timber or allowing the forest to develop in the absence of human interventions. The following topics are addressed in specific management policies.