Historic Douglas-Fir Colonization and Land Use Practices at Restoration Sites Near Eugene, OR
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Prior to Euro-American settlement in the Willamette Valley, the Kalapuya indigenous group conducted prairie burning to incite annual subsistence rounds of native prairie resources. However, the frequency of fire declined after replacement of indigenous culture with Euro-American settlements and the subsequent introduction of livestock grazing. This research aims to use Douglas-fir core data and vegetative extent comparisons from 1853-54, 1936, and 2011 at three preservation sites near Eugene, OR, to determine whether conifer colonization in historic oak savanna habitat occurred consistently, or was concentrated in one or more specific time periods as a result of external forces related to this shift in land use. References to General Land Office Survey data from 1853-54 and aerial photos from 1936 recreate historic vegetation cover and relate site histories to extracted Douglas-fir core ages and accounts of historic land use. The absence of core data prior to 1903 and the rapidity of forest advance from 1853-1936 are suggestive of a surge in colonization after the turn of the 20th century. However, the lack of site specific land use history is not conclusive in determining which management technique was the most influential in propagating forest advance.