Posted by on Oct 12, 2013 in Uncategorized |

Hyla Woods Experimental Forest –  Forest Assessment:

Introduction:  Since 1986, we at Hyla Woods have worked to measure, track, and better understand the ecological function and values of our forests – ecological, economic, and social.   We invest in this work and encourage others to join us, because we see it as an essential tool for tracking progress toward our goal of creating “enriched forests” and “sustaining people”.  In response to watching common wealth values in the forested region around us decline, we are determined to maintain and rebuild these same values where we have the most ability and responsibility to create change.   Growing from isolated monitoring efforts, the work has expanded and matured into a relatively comprehensive system for tracking forest health.   Though we are pleased that elements of the overall program represent high levels of scientific excellence and reliability, we also acknowledge that, on average, the program’s level of scientific rigor is not as high as we want it to be.  We are committed to finding the resources and building the partnerships necessary to continuously improve the quality of the science.  The work is designed to answer the following central questions:

  1. What is the status of the health of      these forests?
  2. How is it changing over time?
  3. What can we understand about the      causes of these changes, particularly the impacts of our actions on these      changes?


We have been most fortunate in being joined by a capable and committed group of community partners who both help us with monitoring that we initiate and coordinate and in monitoring that they take full responsibility for.  We are continually challenged to find the right balance between investing as much time and effort in the work as we would like and not committing more to the work than we can afford.  To date our focus has been on designing, coordinating, and implementing the research with relatively little emphasis on analysis and presentation of results.  This is our first effort at assembling a comprehensive summary of our work and results.  Though it is simple and inevitably less complete than we would like, we hope that it is a valuable first step toward something that will continue to grow and improve.  One factor to keep in mind is that the three forests are “open systems” where changes observed in the forest may be driven much more by events beyond the forests’ boundaries than they are shaped by activities within the forests.  These factors vary from indicator to indicator and we aim to better delineate these differences in future reports.  Even if our results often reflect changes in the wider world – such as changes in stream temperatures as the stream enters the forest – we feel that the new knowledge is important and interesting.

The report is structured around the indicators that make up our Tracking Forest Health program.  With each indicator we summarize: goals, strategies, activities, results and conclusions, and next steps.  For more detail, please refer to our monitoring plan.  We see strong connections between these indicators and the rapidly evolving frameworks for tracking ecosystem services and are committed to better aligning the two approaches in the near future.

And finally, a note on the ratings that have been assigned to the status, trend, and data quality for each indicator.  Ratings for “status” and “data quality” are: excellent, good, fair, poor, or unknown.  These ratings are made relative to the average condition of forest lands in the surrounding area.  Ratings for “trend” are: improving, stable, declining, or unknown.  Given that our focus is on long term change, we feel that most of our data have been collected for such a relatively short amount of time that making judgments about trends is largely meaningless at this point.   It seems that such ratings involve a significant degree of subjective judgment which we see no way to avoid; nevertheless, we feel that they are useful.  Additionally, the single rating often hides complexities that matter – for instance where owls are assigned a “data quality” rating of “poor” based on the sampling being relatively new and not as complete as we would like, even though the quality of the identifications that have been made is excellent.  Accordingly, we have added a “discussion” section where these issues may be communicated.

Help Wanted:  Because the largest factor limiting the quality of this report is available human time to advance the work, additional help is always welcomed and appreciated.  With a number of the indicators, we have quality data available but have not yet had time to do the basic analysis required to turn it from information to useful knowledge.




  • Goals – Answer the following questions:
    • How does the temperature in the major streams in the forest change throughout the year?
    • Do we observe trends, events, or patterns both throughout the year and over multiple years?


  • Strategies – Temperature data logger sensors have been placed in main locations.  This work is done as part of the Oregon DEQ’s overall water temperature monitoring program, and benefits from their protocol, equipment loan, and QAQC.  Loggers are placed in early spring and removed in late fall.
  • Activities – Monitoring initiated in 2004.   Partnership established with  Oregon Dept. of Environmental Quality in 2007 . Data regularly shared with our partners at the DEQ.
  • Results and Conclusions – Significant analysis by us has not been started.  Status – unknown, Trend – unknown,  Data Quality – good
  • Next Steps – Continue sampling and find way to begin analysis.

Aquatic Ecosystems

  • Goals – Study benthic macro invertebrates in order to answer the following questions:
    • What benthic macro invertebrates live in the creek
    • What does their presence or absence tell us about the health of the creek and surrounding lands?
    • How are these results changing over time


  • Strategies – Two approaches are used – school-based and professional.  Under the leadership of citizen scientists from the Forest Grove Community School, using the Leaf Pack protocol, monitoring and analysis is completed by school groups in the Fall and Spring.  Secondly, more detailed analysis is periodically provided though professional sampling and analysis coordinated through the Upper Nehalem Watershed Council.
  • Activities – Twice annual sampling and analysis by school groups and periodic professional sampling on Lousignont Creek since Fall of 2008 and sampling on Kuder Creek starting in the Fall of 2011.
  • Results and Conclusions – Though thorough analysis of the student collected data has not been done, when we plot the data from seven sampling sessions between Fall 2008 and Fall 2011 we find that the water quality rating is consistently “excellent” and the trend lines in both the biotic index and the % EPT remains relatively constant.  For more information visit:  A cursory review of the professionally collected data also suggests that benthic macro invertebrate populations indicate high levels of ecological health in the stretch of Lousignont Creek flowing through the Timber forest.  Analysis has not begun for the Kuder Creek site.  Status – Good, Trend – Stable with variations, Data Quality – Good
  • Next Steps – Continue with monitoring and analysis.  This may be particularly important and interesting on Lousignont Creek due to plans to significantly increase logging activities on state lands that dominate the watershed upstream.


Ecological Function – Lousignont Creek

  • Goals – To quantify changes in ecological function due to stream enhancement activities
  • Strategies – To serve as a pilot project site for development of a protocol of quantifying outcomes of stream restoration projects.  Done in cooperation with Parametrix, Freshwater Trust, and Upper Nehalem Watershed Council.
  • Activities – Assessments done in summer of 2008 prior to and after six additional log installations.
  • Results and Conclusions – Analysis found a 3% increase in “functional acres” from 317 to 326, and an 8% increase in “weighed linear feet” from 1,651 to 1,780.  The increase in ecosystem service credits was relatively small due to the reach already being high due to past stewardship and enhancement projects.  More detail is available at:   And   Status – good, Trend – improving, Data Quality – Unknown
  • Discussion – The protocol used was part of experimentation in developing valid protocols.  Validity of the data should become clearer as protocols become more refined and routinely used.
  • Next Steps – Find ways to continue to better understand and quantify changes in ecosystem services in the forests.  Invite ongoing cooperation with original partners.


Biological Diversity:

            Spring Birds –

  • Goals – To answer the following questions:  1) What bird species live in and use the forest? 2) How is their use distributed across the forest?

3)      How does this distribution correlate with stand characteristics

4)      How do all of the above change over time?

  • Strategies – Since 1998 annual bird counts have been completed using a standard protocol, set transects, and a system for rotating every three years between forests, following an initial period of doing baseline monitoring for three years in all forests.  Specialized, focused bird inventories are being done in conjunction with oak restoration work, in cooperation with USFWS.
  • Activities – Three counts made, one week apart in late May and early June, plus habitat surveys at bird count stations completed for each forest once in every three years.
  • Results and Conclusions – Thorough analysis will begin once we complete our nine years of rotating monitoring in 2015.  Rudimentary analysis indicates that: 1) the forests provide occupied habitat for significant numbers of birds that are at risk and/or are indicators of complex forests, 2) it appears that the quality of habitat is improving over time and is significantly higher than on neighboring plantation lands, and 3) both at risk species and species indicative of complexity are being found in higher numbers in areas that have been actively logged with the goal of habitat improvement, than in the areas that have not been logged in the last 20 years.  Status – good, Trend – Possibly Improving, Data Quality – good
  • Next Steps – Continue rotation of monitoring through at least 2015 and develop ways to complete a thorough analysis of existing data.

Owls –

  • Goals – To answer the following questions:

1)      What owls are present in the forests?  2) How do they use the forest? And 3) How is there use of the forests changing over time and why?

  • Strategies – Informal sampling during early spring calling season
  • Activities – First sampling done in Feb./March 2011 and repeated in March 2012
  • Results and Conclusions – Owls were found in all forests except Manning.  Five species have been identified (Northern Pygmy, Saw Whet, Screech, Barred, and Great Horned).  Northern Spotted Owls that formerly nested on state lands immediately west of the Timber Forest are no longer present.  Status –  Unknown,  Trend – Unknown  , Data Quality – Poor
  • Discussion – The ratings are based on the data set being relatively small and the protocol being experimental rather than operational.  The quality of the individual bird identifications has been high.
  • Next Steps – Decide whether this experimentation with owl listening and calling will become an ongoing, more formalized component of the monitoring program.

Juvenile Fish –

  • Goals – To understand the status and trends in juvenile fish in Lousignont and Kuder Creeks
  • Strategies – Rely on surveys done by ODFW researchers
  • Activities – Sampling has been done in Lousignont Creek for multiple years and results have been shared.
  • Results and Conclusions – Analysis has not yet been done.  Status – good,  Trend – Unknown , Data Quality – good
  • Next Steps  – Continue to cooperate with and benefit from ODFW’s research.  Secure and analyze all available data, and summarize and communicate the results.

Amphibians – Terrestrial –

  • Goals  – To answer the following questions:
    • What terrestrial amphibians live in the forest?
    • What does their presence, absence, and distribution tell us about the health of the forests?
    • How are these results changing over time and why?


  • Strategies – Since 2007, Dr. Pam Lopez and her Pacific Univ. students have developed and implemented a protocol for using cover boards placed along transects to monitor populations in the Mt. Richmond Forest.  Three 50 m long transects with two sets of four cover objects (slabs of Douglas fir with mean length = 36.02 cm, mean width = 27.80 cm, mean height = 6.90 cm) every 10 m are located in three different Forest Units (Units 11, 16 and 22).  In Spring 2011 Char Corkran and students from the Forest Grove Community School used the same protocol to set up a similar system in the Timber Forest.  In the Mt. Richmond Forest Pam Lopez and Pacific University students have also conducted time- and area-constrained surveys of forest amphibians in 10 x 10 m quadrats that are adjacent to the cover board array transects in each of the three Forest Units.  Each of these surveys is limited to a 30-minute sampling period, during which all woody debris and forest floor litter within a quadrat is thoroughly investigated for the presence of amphibians by three investigators.
  • Activities  – The cover board arrays in the Mt. Richmond Forest were installed in February 2007, and have been surveyed in November 2007, April 2008, April and May 2009 and May 2010.  Surveys were not conducted in spring 2011 due to the unavailability of Pam Lopez.  Time- and area-constrained surveys in the Mt. Richmond Forest were conducted in March and April 2007 and May 2008.
  • Results and Conclusions – The cover board arrays have yielded an extremely low number of amphibians.  Only two amphibians, both Ensatina salamanders (Ensatina eschscholtzii) have been found under any cover boards, and both were located in Forest Unit 11.  Time- and area-constrained surveys have thus far been more productive.   The following table summarizes these findings:

Year of survey

Forest Unit 11

Forest Unit 16

Forest Unit 21


4 Ensatina eschscholtzii, 1   Pseudacris regilla 4 Ensatina eschscholtzii 3 Ensatina eschscholtzii


2 Ensatina eschscholtzii 1 Ensatina eschscholtzii 1 Ensatina eschscholtzii


Status  – Good: Low number of amphibians utilizing cover boards thus far is                             open to interpretation , but time- and area-constrained surveys suggest                  a reasonable population of Ensatina eschscholtzii in each Forest Unit.,     Trend –  Stable: With limited number of amphibians observed thus far,                     it appears as if they are occurring in each Forest Unit at relatively equal            densities (specific to Ensatina eschscholtzii).  Data Quality – Good.

  • Next Steps – Cover board arrays will continue to be monitored by Pam Lopez and Pacific University students each spring, and possibly each fall as well, for the next several years.  Replacement of and minor modifications to the cover boards (including adding shims to create more of a gap between the forest floor and each cover board’s lower surface) will be completed during spring 2012.  As time permits additional time- and area-constrained surveys will be conducted in each Forest Unit during April and May.

Amphibians – Aquatic –

  • Goals – To answer the following questions:
    • What aquatic amphibians live in the forest?
    • What does their presence, absence, and distribution tell us about the health of the forests?
    • How are these results changing over time and why?


  • Strategies – Complete an annual survey of all ponds in all three forests in early spring.
  • Activities – One day “quick check” sampling in early April completed since 2004. Change to early March survey dates in 2012 because we could not count red-legged frog egg masses adequately on later dates. Very brief sampling in Lousignont Cr. has occurred a couple of times, but not of Kuder Cr..
  •  Results and Conclusions – A diversity of pond-breeding amphibians has been consistently found in all three forests, including in ponds which have been created or improved in recent years.  One species, red legged frog, is at risk at low elevations, and has been found in increasing numbers in multiple locations in the Mt. Richmond and Timber Forests. No stream-breeding amphibians have been found, and appropriate habitat is limited. Status – good ,  Trend – improving  , Data Quality – good for most species, good for red-legged frog with earlier survey date.
  • Next Steps – Continue monitoring on improved schedule and analyze data after several additional years of monitoring. Survey Kuder Cr. at least once for stream-breeding species.



Large Mammals –

  • Goals – To answer the following questions:
    • What large mammals are present in the forests?
    •  How do they use the forest?
    •  How is there use of the forests changing over time and why?


  • Strategies – To date data collection has been through observations made by hunters, forest residents and workers, and through images taken by motion activated cameras
  • Activities – Cameras have been successfully used in Mt. Richmond Forest from 2010 – 2011.
  • Results and Conclusions – Much has been learned about the number of species in the area, the number of individuals (ages, gender, etc.), the seasonal variations in presence and absence, and the absence of species that we assume are in the area – such as cougar.  Status – Unknown ,  Trend – Unknown  , Data Quality – Poor
  • Discussion – Though the system used to date has not been systematic, the results have been interesting and informative.
  • Next Steps – Consider the feasibility and potential value of expanding and formalizing this aspect of monitoring.  Seek partners for mutually beneficial cooperation on monitoring and analysis.

Tree Volume, Diversity, and Growth –

  • Goals – To understand and track the status, and trends of the forests’ composition, structure, and function.
  • Strategies – The primary strategy is to rely on periodic forest inventories.  A secondary strategy is to complete smaller scale measurements of individual stands, such as measuring tree size and density before and after thinning, or measuring volumes of sub merchantable stands.
  • Activities – Complete forest inventories were completed in 2003.  Previous inventories were completed at various times in all three forests.
  • Results and Conclusions –  Inventory results are regularly used as the basis for forest stewardship decisions.  Status – Good,  Trend – Improving   , Data Quality – Fair
  • Next Steps – A complete inventory will be done at a time in the future when it is deemed necessary.  It will allow us to better quantify the changes that we assume are taking place – EG increasing volume, diversity, and complexity.

Carbon –

  • Goals – To understand and track the status and trends in carbon budgets in the forests.
  • Strategies – Nothing done to date, beyond rudimentary estimates based on the relationships between tree volume and carbon.
  • Activities – None to date, other than reviewing various programs used for measuring and tracking forest carbon.
  • Results and Conclusions – Little or nothing done to date.  Status – Unknown,  Trend – improving   , Data Quality – Poor
  • Next Steps – Look for cost effective, appropriate ways to better achieve our goals.


Oak Habitat –

  • Goals – To better understand the status and trends in oak habitat in Mt. Richmond Forest
  • Strategies – Annual bird inventories and photo point monitoring.  In communication with Willamette Partnership staff about possibility of their testing of new oak habitat quantification protocol in Mt. Richmond Forest
  • Activities – Bird monitoring in select oak stands in ’04 – ’06, and in ‘11
  • Results and Conclusions  – Little or no analysis done to date beyond noting that birds associated with oak stands have not been observed (EG Acorn Woodpecker and White Breasted Nuthatch).  Status – Unknown ,  Trend – Presumably improving due to ongoing restoration   , Data Quality – fair
  • Next Steps – Continue monitoring, begin analysis, test oak habitat metric pilot test

Team Members: A large amount of volunteer thought, skill, knowledge, time, and hard work by a large and diverse group of people over the past 15 years has gone into advancing this work to this point.  We want to express our enthusiastic thanks to all who have helped.  Particular thanks are owed to Char Corkran for her central role.

Water Temperature: Lead Analyst – Pam Hayes.  ODEQ (Steve Hanson), Peter Hayes

Aquatic Ecosystems: Lead Analyst – Peter Hayes.  Forest Grove Community School students and staff, Upper Nehalem Watershed Council, various contractors

Ecological Function – Lousignont Creek:  Lead Analyst – Peter Hayes. Parametrix, Freshwater Trust

Spring Birds:  Lead Analyst – TBD. Char Corkran, Linda Craig, Lori Hennings, Ken Chamberlain, Steve Engel, Lars Norgren; Pam, Peter, Ben, and Molly Hayes

Owls: Lead Analyst – Pam Hayes. Char Corkran, Larry Johnson, Cathy Flick, Marc Carrel, Christie Galen, Meagan Young, Dave Pratt, Amy Hiatt, Sophie Davis, Laura Guderyahn, Emilie Blevins; Cory Samia; Ben, Molly, and Peter Hayes

Juvenile Fish:  Lead Analyst – Peter Hayes?.  ODFW and contractors

Amphibians, Terrestrial:  Lead Analyst – Pam Lopez.  Pacifc Univ. students, Char Corkran, FGCS students and staff

Amphibians, Aquatic:  Lead Analyst – Char Corkran.  Marc Carrel; Andy and Henry Stevens, Christie Galen, Mirth Walker, Mary LaGow, Laura Guderyahn, Emilie Blevins, Meghan Young, Larry Johnson.

Large Mammals:  Lead Analyst – Joe Furia?.  Gary Lerwick, Dennis Larson, John Aguirre, Allen Flanagan, Jeremy Milton, Stephanie Beall

Trees: Lead Analyst – Pam Hayes.  Molly and Peter Hayes, Joe Kaleschevsky, Mike Barnes

Carbon: Lead Analyst – Pam Hayes?

Oak Habitat:  Lead Analyst – Peter Hayes.  USFWS (Chris Seal, Steve Smith), ODFW, TNC, Ken Chamberlain

Summary Table:   note – Though these ratings are based on solid information, there is no way to avoid their being subjective decisions.




Data   Quality

Water   Temperature




Aquatic   Ecosystems




Ecological   Function




Spring   Birds








Juvenile   Fish




Amphibians,   Terrestrial




Amphibians,   Aquatic




Large   Mammals












Oak   Habitat






Status   Trend   Data Quality  
Excellent 16% Improving 50% Excellent 0%
Good 50% Stable 16% Good 58%
Fair 8% Declining 0% Fair 16%
Poor 0%     Poor 25%
Unknown 25% Unknown 33% Unknown 0%



Economic Dimensions – (Detail to be added to future drafts)