The University of Montana's Applied Forest Management Program (AFMP) is a research and outreach unit of the Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station (MFCES). Our mission is a clear and straightforward one: to develop and promote silvicultural tools and techniques for the stewardship, restoration, and renewal of western forests. This rewarding mission guides our daily work.
Our core philosophy is that an active approach to forest management is key to sustaining forest resilience and management flexibility. With a long-term perspective and a view to Montana’s future, we test and evaluate innovative forest management practices that directly address challenges identified by forest managers, researchers, and landowners, with special focus on forest stand dynamics and silvicultural techniques.
The AFMP has proven a solid investment for the State of Montana. The MFCES supports an AFMP staff consisting of 1 program director/researcher (full-time), and 1 research forester (part-time). Operating with a modest annual budget, we leverage this MFCES investment by writing and winning competitive grants, and by vigorously pursuing opportunities to collaborate with diverse cooperators. During the past 5 years, AFMP projects have brought more than $1.4 million to Montana. To complete our projects, we recruit and deploy a corps of motivated student assistants and volunteers. The result of this formula is an efficient and energetic program with outsized performance.
The AFMP is in the third year of its New Forests Initiative, a teaching and research initiative with emphasis on forest regeneration and reforestation. Bark beetles and wildfires during the past decade have strongly affected Montana forests, and our attention is on the next generation of forests, and on strategies that can be employed to increase their resilience to future stress and disturbance. A highlight of this effort is the resurrection of a seedling nursery program based at the University of Montana's Memorial Greenhouse. This nursery program provides students and citizens with hands-on opportunities for engaging in seedling propagation processes and nursery practices, outplanting seedlings at restoration sites, and monitoring the performance of various stock types in different environments. Costs of the program are partially offset by the sale of tree seedlings and native plants to conservation partners.