Techniques Used

Variable Density Thinning


Trees are thinned to create patchy distributions that mimic natural disturbance patterns.

The intent of variable density thinning is different from standard commercial thinning. Commercial thinning aims to maximize growth of fewer individual trees to produce high quality timber, which may be achieved through even spacing between the larger trees. This type of thinning can reduce variability in the forest, which is managed as a monoculture of a single dominant tree species to produce a predictable timber volume and quality.

The intent of variable density thinning is to create greater variability in density and spacing between trees to diversify forest structure, species composition, and development. Variable size patches may be thinned to different spacing, from dense, crowded areas to widely spaced trees that more closely resemble naturally developing forests and natural disturbance patterns.

Variable stand density creates patches of dense, shaded areas and patches where more light reaches the herb and shrub layers of the forest. In this way more habitat niches are created that supports more wildlife species and higher numbers of individuals than uniform forests. Variable tree spacing can also allow less common tree species (such as big-leaf maples) to thrive along side the dominant conifers.

Creating Canopy Gaps, Snags, and Logs


Snags created by topping are used extensively by foraging pileated woodpeckers.

In addition to small canopy gaps that are created during variable density thinning, we also create larger canopy gaps (generally less that ½ acre in size) to introduce less shade tolerant species (such as big leaf maple and western white pine) and stimulate herb and shrub growth.

Snags are created by topping or wounding large standing trees, alone or in clusters. Large trees cut during thinning may be left on the forest floor to provide long lasting habitat for insects, amphibians, and small mammals. Snags and logs are usually created where a small number of trees is released or selectively thinned, or where small canopy gaps can be created through a cluster of snags and logs.

Restoration Planting

Planting is the primary tool we use to increase plant species diversity. We generally plant native trees and shrubs, but may plant forbs, grasses, lichen, and fungi, if necessary, to restore the entire complement of native species.