A Healthy Forest is Reborn
The Manzanita Lake Campground (MLC) is the largest and most used campground in Lassen Volcanic National Park. The large old growth Jeffrey Pine forests that grow in MLC are a centerpiece attraction for visitors as well as a valuable forest ecosystem. The forest structure within the MLC has been significantly altered in recent years by fire suppression, development, insect and disease epidemics. These unhealthy conditions developed over time without naturally occurring fires to help maintain the understory and promote the growth of healthy pine stands. White fir trees have encroached unchecked in the absence of frequent surface fires and now form dense pole size thickets of several hundred trees per acre. These thickets, or ladder fuels, create an extreme fire danger which could lead to a destructive crown fire in the future.
The fir thickets have prevented the growth of new pines. These changes cause tremendous stress on the forest and lead to the death of large pines. If the densities of white fir persist, mortality of the larger pine trees will continue to shift forest composition and structure from open pine to dense young fir.
PROJECT GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
The goal of the project is to remove hazardous fuels and create a healthier forest. Healthy trees will, in turn, make the campgrounds safer for campers. The project objectives are to:
1. Reduce fuel conditions which contribute to high fire danger.
2. Promote the establishment of young pine.
3. Reduce the occurrence of hazardous trees.
4. Improve vigor and survival of large pine and fir.
Because this project is located within a high-use campground, traditional National Park Service vegetation management options such as prescribed ﬁre can not be used to address these issues. Instead, mechanical thinning will be used to remove competing vegetation from around old-growth trees and to reduce overall tree densities to more sustainable levels. A combination of artiﬁcial and natural regeneration techniques will be used to re-establish young pines in select areas of the campground. Our progress will be evaluated and monitored with the goal that the same actions can be used successfully in other parts of the park with similar conditions.