Environment of the OESF
The Olympic Experimental State Forest (OESF) is located in the Coast Range Ecoregion characterized by a maritime climate with major rainfall during the winter. The abundant precipitation averages 140 inches per year. Strong winds from the Pacific Ocean are the major natural disturbance force.
Elevation within the OESF forest varies between sea level and 3,400 feet, with the majority of forested state trust lands between 500 and 1,500 feet.
River drainages are the most notable physical feature. Most of the parent material on the Olympic Peninsula consists of uplifted marine sedimentary rocks, continental and alpine glacial deposits, and marine basalts.
Steep erodible terrain and heavy annual precipitation promotes high stream densities. There are more than 2,500 miles of streams on state trust lands in the OESF. Watersheds are largely rain-dominated and streams exhibit seasonal fluctuations in flow. Most streams have the potential for unstable channel banks and upslope slides.
Sitka Spruce vegetation zone dominates along the coast, Western Hemlock zone comprises a majority of the forest with western redcedar found in the wetter areas. The Pacific Silver Fir zone extends higher in elevation. Douglas-fir is a seral component in all zones; red alder is a seral component in lower elevations.
The area is characterized by a very high tree growth rate. Old growth forest once dominating the landscape is still available on part of state trust lands in the OESF. About 50 percent of the OESF is dominated by young stands.
Fish and Wildlife
Riparian areas in the OESF provide habitat for diversity of fish including nine resident or anadromous salmonid species. The Olympic Peninsula is rich with endemic species and subspecies of fish, amphibians, and mammals. Species dependent on old growth forest include the federally threatened northern spotted owl and marbled murrelet.