Bussman Forest, CA
By James Able
The working history of this site begins around 1900 when this high index site redwood property was logged, converted to grassland, and later nearly forsaken as rangeland as woody species returned. The property has been in the Bussman family since before 1900 and was originally managed for livestock and vegetable production after the initial logging of the early 1900s. In the 1950s the re-growth forest had so reduced the livestock and vegetable production operations that the property was almost abandoned. By the late 1950s some limited logging of old seed trees occurred. In the 1970s the forest had returned to the point it could be managed and in 1975 commercial thinning was implemented on the re-growth. Currently the property is managed on a “sustainable” basis and as a portion of an overall business plan. Mr. Bussman’s (property owner) primary business is cattle and range production as well as timber.
Beginning in 1981 a serious commitment to sustainable forestry was made with silviculture and harvesting activities dedicated to increasing forest inventory in the long term. Management guidelines are to cut less than the annual growth and no more than a third of the volume at any one entry as well as a minimum of at least 5 growing seasons between selection harvests. Since the 1980s, continuous harvesting (including techniques such as thinning, sanitation salvage, and group selection) as well as other silvicultural activities have taken place.
Forest inventories indicate a doubling of inventory and 50% increase in growth per acre since 1981. Inventories are collected every 10 years to monitor for the management targets of increased inventory and the maintenance or increase in growth. Additionally each new inventory is used to determine the next decade’s harvest.
Recent data shows that the current growth rates vary but average an impressive 1,400 board feet/acre per year (Scribner Scale, short log) leading to remarkable tree growth.
The Bussman Forest gives regular tours to the Society of American Foresters (SAF) and is an annual stop on California Extension teacher’s tour. The forest is used as an example of how an intensively managed parcel of high site timberland can be an excellent investment in timber production.
Photos courtesy of Kevin Wright.
Forest Statistics and Documentation
- Acreage: 78
- Forest Type: coastal redwood, douglas fir
- Model Forest Manager: James Able, Able Forestry
- Primary Uses: timber
- Certification: American Tree Farm System
Partnerships: Society of American Foresters, Institute for Sustainable Forestry, National Marine Fisheries Service
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