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Ferns in Redwood Forest, photo credit: Greg Jirak  



The current forest condition (Charts 1-3) determines how the Usal Redwood Forest will be harvested (Chart 4). Two important aspects of the Usal Redwood Forest can be seen from the graphs. First, the forest is young, and second, it is dominated by hardwoods.

Usal - Acres by Age Class

Forest Age: Chart 1 shows the number of acres of each age class in the Usal Redwood Forest. This chart indicates that the Usal Redwood Forest is young, with about 18,000 acres in the 30 to 39 year old range. Mature harvest age is generally about 50 to 60 years old. Therefore as young trees mature to harvest age the volume of timber taken off the land will increase. This is reflected in Chart 4 (Base Conservation Harvest Scenario). For the first ten years of RFFI ownership harvest levels in the Usal Redwood Forest under the base conservation scenario are minimal. Bank of America does not require RFFI to start making loan payments for ten years, making the initial low harvest levels economically feasible.

Usal - Species Composition by Percent of Total Volume

Hardwoods: Chart 2 shows that the Usal Redwood Forest is currently dominated by hardwoods. Past over-logging allowed rapidly growing hardwoods to shade out young redwood and douglas fir, prohibiting their growth and upsetting the natural balance of tree species in the forest. Currently hardwoods account for over 40% of the volume in the Usal Redwood Forest (Chart 2). Herbicide application and variable retention harvest are two ways of reducing the volume of hardwoods in the forest giving young redwood and fir a chance to grow. Once the natural balance of tree species is achieved, selective cutting and sustainable forest management will assure that this balance is maintained without further use of herbicides or variable retention harvesting.

Usal - 2005 Initial Average Basal Area/Acre by Species & Age Class

Chart 3 combines information provided in charts 1-2 to show the current average area per acre of redwood, douglas fir, and hardwood for each age class in the forest. The black line shows the total number of acres of each age class currently in the Usal Redwood Forest. The base conservation harvest scenario in Chart 4 is based on the current condition of the Usal Redwood Forest that is described by Chart 3. The young age of the forest and the dominance of hardwoods necessitate the initial low harvest levels and variable retention harvesting that is written into the base conservation scenario.

Usal - Base Conservation Strategy

It is important to point out that Chart 4 is a visual representation of the base conservation scenario, a scenario that RFFI created to define minimum conservation attributes associated with their property management. The sale of a conservation easement and resulting debt reduction will allow RFFI to stay within this set of management guidelines.

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