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Title: Ancient barkpeeled trees in the Bitterroot Mountains, Montana: Legacies of native land use and implications for their protection

Author: Josefsson, Torbjorn; Sutherland, Elaine Kennedy; Arno, Stephen F.; Ostlund, Lars

Date: 2012

Source: Natural Areas Journal. 32(1): 54-64.

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Culturally modified trees (CMTs) are trees with scars that reflect human utilization of forested ecosystems. Some CMTs can reveal unique knowledge of native cultures and insight to peoples' subsistence and land use in the past, and are mostly to be found in protected areas since they contain very old trees. In this study, we examine attributes and the spatial and temporal distribution of barkpeeled trees, and present forest structure in two remnant ponderosa pine forests (Pinus ponderosa P. & C. Lawson) in western Montana. We also wanted to use an alternative method of dating CMTs and initiate a broader discussion of threats to such trees and needs for sustaining and protecting them. In total, 343 bark-peelings were recorded on 274 living and dead trees. Our results show that only certain trees were selected for harvest. Nearby trees of similar size and age were not used. The age estimation indicates that the bark-peelings were performed from the mid 1600s until the early 1900s. Today the forest at both study areas is generally low in density and all-aged with very old individual trees. They consist of a mosaic of uneven-aged tree groups and individual trees of various ages. We conclude that the abundance and density of bark-peeled trees at the study areas exceed values reported in most other North American studies (formally protected forests included), that the two areas represent different harvest areas for ponderosa pine inner bark, and that CMTs need to be recognized both as ecologically and culturally valuable features of old ponderosa pine forests.

Keywords: bark-peeling, Culturally Modified Trees, forest history, native people, Pinus ponderosa

Publication Notes:

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  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.

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Josefsson, Torbjorn; Sutherland, Elaine Kennedy; Arno, Stephen F.; Ostlund, Lars. 2012. Ancient barkpeeled trees in the Bitterroot Mountains, Montana: Legacies of native land use and implications for their protection. Natural Areas Journal. 32(1): 54-64.

 


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