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Diameter Caps for Thinning Southwestern Ponderosa Pine

Summary: Diameter Caps for Thinning
Southwestern Ponderosa Pine
Forests: Viewpoints, Effects, and
Scott R. Abella, Peter Z. FuleŽ, and W. Wallace Covington
Upper size limits of trees allowed to be cut, termed diameter caps, have resulted in polarization,
litigation, and delays and alterations to thinning projects in many western forests. Using southwestern
ponderosa pine forests as an example, we summarize viewpoints on caps, simulate effects of caps on
thinning prescriptions, and provide examples of ecosystem-level tradeoffs of leaving extra trees during
thinning projects. The importance placed on trees versus other ecosystem components primarily
differentiates those who support caps and those who do not. We conclude that diameter caps may
enhance some ecosystem components, such as densities of large trees, but they negatively impact many
nontree components.
Keywords: ecological restoration, treatment prescription, fuel reduction, ecosystem management
ree densities have increased sharply
in many western frequent-fire for-
ests since the late 1800s because of
fire exclusion and other factors (Lynch et al.
2000, Allen et al. 2002). In southwestern


Source: Abella, Scott R. - School of Life Sciences, University of Nevada at Las Vegas


Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology