Identifying and evaluating techniques for wildlife habitat management in Interior Alaska

Project 5.10, Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Grant. Project Duration: July 1, 2005–June 30, 2009. Principal Investigators: Thomas F. Paragi, C. Tom Seaton, and Kalin A. Kellie, Fairbanks.

ADF&G seeks to increase public awareness and acceptance of habitat manipulation as a means to maintain or increase populations of game and nongame wildlife and to restore a more natural disturbance regime in areas where wildland fire is suppressed. We also seek to increase awareness and acceptance among land, forest, and fire managers that habitat manipulation techniques can be integrated into their programs for mutual and public benefit. To accomplish these goals, we need to show that habitat enhancement techniques are both effective and affordable. Knowledge of how well wildlife habitat objectives are met is useful when planning future projects and seeking funding. This study, continuing work in project 5.0, will evaluate the success of current and future projects in meeting those objectives.

This project will:
• Determine the relative efficacy and cost of using post-logging site preparations (disk trenching, blade scarification and broadcast burning) to improve establishment of willow shrubs and hardwood saplings after timber is harvested from riparian white spruce stands;
• Evaluate the utility of scarification for establishing hardwoods on timber harvest sites;
• Evaluate the success of landscape-scale prescribed burns in converting spruce-dominated stands to early-successional forbs, shrubs, or hardwood saplings;
• Evaluate the success of mechanical treatments in converting spruce-dominated forest to early-successional forbs, shrubs, or hardwood saplings;
• Evaluate the effects of fuel breaks on wildlife habitat in the greater Fairbanks area;
• Determine the density, characteristics, and dispersion of snags and cavity trees among the major forest types in the greater Fairbanks area;
• Determine snag persistence in timber sales as a function of snag size, surrounding forest type, and terrain influence on wind vector;
• Estimate browse production and proportional removal (kg/ha) as an index of potential for winter forage to limit growth in moose populations under intensive management. (Additional operational funds for this activity will be provided from non federal aid sources.);
• Document changes in wildlife habitat parameters in an experimental simulation of wildland fire behavior in a fuel reduction treatment;
• Quantify the influence of snag and cavity tree density, characteristics, dispersion, and surrounding landscape features on the presence of nesting land birds and other wildlife;
• Determine the effect of landscape features and moose ecology on probability of vehicle collisions with moose in wildland urban interface near Fairbanks; and
• Determine response of moose to post-logging site treatments in floodplain forest and fuel breaks in upland forest.