After some exciting small plane flights through southeast Alaska in winter, we've completed the initial fieldwork for the yellow cedar decline/mortality + harvest study. The stands were completely mapped, seedling to snag, with attention paid to microsites, understory species, and others. The purpose of this is 1) to understand how forests change with this species-specific disturbance process and 2) provide a baseline to compare the multiple disturbance scenario (decline + harvest) after the harvest, currently anticipated next year. We'll be able to look at successional trajectory change, impacts to soils and species, and overall harvest intensity.
We're also planting post-harvest with western redcedar (Thuja plicata), a semi-distant relative that has some real interesting similarities both ecologically and chemically to yellow cedar. As a prelude, we also mapped a naturally occurring stand near Kake - the northernmost stand of western redcedar - where it appears to be taking over rapidly post-yellow cedar decline (natural). There's been intensive bark harvesting in that area too - a really neat site ecologically and culturally.