Lubrecht Forest is managed by the Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station. Lubrecht's forest policies state that the primary objective of the forest is to "provide a location for research in forestry, resource management, and ecosystem science by faculty and graduate students of FCFC and other Montana University System researchers and extension specialists." The secondary objective of Lubrecht Forest is to "utilize forest research and management activities to demonstrate forest management practices and to transfer knowledge through undergraduate and graduate instruction, extension, and public education and outreach programs."
Resource Inventory Plots
In the summer of 2015, a field crew of four CFC students re-measured Resource Inventory Plots on both Lubrecht Forest and Bandy Ranch. The grid of plots was first established in 2007. Data from the RIPs is used to supplement and adjust LiDAR and other imagery to check ground-based measurements of forest attributes to image-derived data. In 2010, crews used precision GPS units to navigate to mapped plot coordinates and mark plot centers. In 2015, the crew made measurements at all plots in Lubrecht and Bandy. These measurements are used to track trends in forest changes over time and will help the FCFC manage Lubrecht.
Professor Kelsey Jencso and graduate students as well as undergraduate research assistants, have set up hydrological monitoring plots in several Lubrecht watersheds. Research has included investigation of what watershed characteristics influence the spatial and temporal response of shallow subsurface flow within hillslopes and how hillslope scale patterns of hydraulic conductivity and soil depth contribute to spatial patterns of water table duration, magnitude and connectivity.
New research shows that Ponderosa saplings planted for their potential to grow the fastest, straightest timber turned out poorly prepared to survive a mountain pine beetle epidemic. UM professor Anna Sala used a research plot at Lubrecht Forest to see how mountain pine beetles impacted tree growth rates. Read more in this Missoulian story.
Growing into a crown fire hazard
Professor Chris Keyes and graduate student Justin Crotteau examined the long term effects of fuels reduction treatments on forest structure. Fuels reduction is the manipulation of the forest stand in order to lower the hazard of an unwanted crown fire. But trees are exceptionally good at growing into recently opened space! Justin is investigating how the re-growth undercuts the effectiveness of a fuels treatment by tracking tree crowns and stand structure at the Fire and Fire Surrogates Study site.
Shifting forests in a changing climate
Professor Solomon Dobrowki and graduate students studied the way tree species' ranges will change in a changing climate. They set up several research plots at Lubrecht to take climate measurements to compare with models of the probability of a species regenerating.
Impact of forest restoration treatments on soil and ecosystems
Professor Cory Cleveland and graduate student Peter Ganzlin looked at how forest restoration techniques such as thinning and prescribed burning impacted soil biogeochemical and ecosystem processes. They conducted a study on the Lubrecht Fire and Fire Surrogates Study site 11 years after restoration treatments were implemented in a Ponderosa pine/Douglas fir forest. Peter found that the thin-and-burn plots were the only treatment that created a favorable balance of ponderosa pine to Douglas fir regeneration. He also found that heat load index, overstory basal area, canopy cover, and surface fuels were important predictors of regeneration density and composition.