Research and Monitoring Projects

Stream monitoring in the OESF

Exploring Links Between Science and Management

The majority of projects that the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and its research partners undertake in the Olympic Experimental State Forest (OESF) are focused on silvicultural techniques, wildlife habitat development, and riparian and aquatic monitoring to intentionally learn how to meet multiple objectives in a working forest.  Click on the following links to explore current and past projects.

Status and Trends Monitoring of Riparian and Aquatic Habitat in the OESF

Status and Trends Flipbook
Click on this flipbook to learn more about this project.

Riparian Validation Monitoring in the OESF

Story map for the Riparian Validation Monitoring project
Click on this interactive story map to learn more about this project. Videos may work best when viewed on a computer; some videos are replaced with photos when viewed on a mobile device.

Using Passive Acoustic Monitoring to Evaluate the Sustainability of Forest Management

T3 Watershed Experiment

Mind the Gap: Developing Ecologically Based Guidelines for Creating Gaps in Forest Thinning on the Olympic Peninsula

  • Project goal: Better match silvicultural gap treatments with the late-successsional forests they aim to emulate.
  • Principal investigator: Daniel Donato (DNR)
  • Funding:  Provided by DNR
  • Cooperators: None
  • Start date: April 2014
  • Project status: Experimental treatments have been implemented, post-treatment measurement data are being processed, and the next measurement is planned for 5 to 10 years after treatment (roughly 2021 to 2026).
  • Project documents and scientific publications:

Influence of Repeated Alternative Biodiversity Thinning Treatments on Coastal Forests

  • Project goal: Quantify the effects of alternative pre-commercial thinning treatments and subsequent thinning on stand complexity and growth. Information gained from this project will inform DNR decisions about the value of different treatment options in meeting multiple management objectives under the biodiversity pathway management approach.
  • Principal investigator: Warren Devine (DNR)
  • Funding: Provided by DNR
  • Cooperators: None
  • Start date: April 2014
  • Project status: Phase I (pre-commerical thinning) and Phase II (commercial thinning) experimental treatments have been implemented; 1, 5, 10, and 15 year post-treatment measurements have been completed; and data analysis is in progress.
  • Project documents and scientific publications:

Forest Structural Development Following Severe Windstorm Damage on the Olympic Peninsula

  • Project goal: Understand how late-successional forest structure develops from even-aged hemlock stands that developed after the most common type of natural disturbance in the region.
  • Principal investigators: Robert Van Pelt Pelt (University of Washington), Daniel Donato (DNR)
  • Funding: Provided by University of Washington and DNR
  • Cooperator: University of Washington
  • Start date: May 2009
  • Project status: Six 1921-origin stands have been sampled with permanent plots; establishment of plots in 2007, 1990s, and other origin-year stands is ongoing; and periodic mortality checks in existing plots are occurring approximately every two to five years.
  • Project documentEstablishment report

Experiment in Long-term Ecosystem Productivity

  • Project goal: Compare a variety of new silviculture systems that include different species compositions and structures (alders, thinning, and downed wood) against no-action controls and standard Douglas-fir monoculture.
  • Principal investigators: Bernard Bormann (University of Washington)
  • Funding: Provided by University of Washington, USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, and DNR
  • Cooperators: University of Washington, USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, and Western Washington University
  • Start date: 1995
  • Project status: Treatments were implemented in 1995 and post-treatment measurements began in 1996. A series of post-harvest measurements have been taken on tree growth, understory regeneration, soils, biomass, and leaf litter.
  • Project websitesProject overviewSappho Collaborative
  • Project documents and scientific publications

Is DNR’s Habitat Conservation Plan Increasing Forest Complexity?

  • Project goals: Examine trends in forest height, canopy cover, and structural complexity across several large, managed landscapes; and to determine if broad-scale trends in these parameters over time appear to be meeting the intent of the State Trust Lands Habitat Conservation Plan.
  • Principal investigators: Joshua Halofsky and Dan Donato (DNR)
  • Funding: Provided by DNR
  • Cooperators: None
  • Start Date: August 2014
  • Project status: Preliminary data analysis conducted in 2018, final data inputs expected in 2021, final data analyses expected in 2022
  • Project documentProject summary

Past Projects

Silviculture and fish research has been conducted on state trust lands on the western Olympic Peninsula since the 1970s. After the OESF was designated in 1992, research intensified and was broadened to include forest and wildlife ecology, geology, riparian management, and other topics. Most  research and monitoring activities completed prior to 2008 are described in DNR’s OESF Research and Monitoring Catalog. Following are projects that were completed more recently.

Developing Improved Methods for Forest Land Planning in the OESF

  • Project goal: Provide integer programming techniques (formulating and solving techniques) that will improve forest estate models used in forest land planning for state trust lands in the OESF. 
  • Principal investigators: Weikko S. Jaross (LandVest), Dr. Sandor Toth (University of Washington), Kai Ross (Cramer Fish Sciences), and Erin Crosland (DNR) 
  • Duration: September 2012 to 2018
  • Funding: Provided by DNR
  • Scientific Publication: “Forest Harvest Scheduling with Endogenous Road Costs,” Informs Journal on Applied Analytics (2018)

Climate Change, Land Management, and Potential Northern Spotted Owl Habitat in Coastal Washington

  • Project goal: With stakeholder input, this project examines trends in socio-ecological values under different climate and management assumptions across all lands in coastal Washington.
  • Principal investigators: Jessica Halofsky (University of Washington), Dominique Bachelet (Conservation Biology Institute), David Conklin (Common Futures), Joshua Halofsky (DNR), Miles Hemstrom (Institute for Natural Resources) 
  • Funding: Provided by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Northwest Climate Science Center, and DNR
  • Duration: January 2013 through 2016
  • Project documentFinal report 

Literature Database on Natural Disturbance Regimes on the Western Olympic Peninsula

  • Project goal: Identify and evaluate existing sources of information on natural disturbance regimes on the western Olympic Peninsula and develop an electronic literature database.
  • Principal investigators: Steven Wondzell and Alex Foster (USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station)
  • Funding: Provided by the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station
  • Duration: April 2010 to May 2011
  • Database: Database is available upon request. Refer to the database description for more information.

Providing Long-term Hydrological and Meteorological Data for the OESF

  • Project goal: Make long-term data on temperature and stream flow from local monitoring stations available through a central data portal. 
  • Principal investigator: Teodora Minkova (DNR)
  • Duration: Continuous transfer of data between 2010 and 2020; the data transfer process was developed in 2010 and revised in 2012 and 2015. The data portal was discontinued in 2020.
  • Funding: Provided by USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station and DNR
  • Data: Data were updated monthly through an automated process managed by DNR. Data from this process was used in a peer-reviewed nationwide study on stream flow responses to climate change. Data can be found at this link.