Forests | Geology | Rangeland | Soils | Water | Wildlife

Course Goals

Students will gain a basic understanding of the diverse forest types and structures that occur across the landscapes of Montana. Human use and ownership of these forests will be put into perspective with Montana’s physical environment, natural history, and biological processes. Students will gain an understanding of management practices used to grow, harvest, and sustain forests for a wide variety of objectives.

Topics Covered

Forest Ecology

  • Basic principles of how a tree grows and why there are different tree species.
  • Basic principles of aspect, slope, elevation, climate and their influences on plant diversity and growth, natural patterns of distribution, and patch size.
  • Concept of succession – forest ecotypes change over time as one tree species succeeds another.
  • Natural role of disturbance i.e.: insects, disease, wildfire etc.
  • Historical role of fire in forest ecology and forest development
  • Reasons for different fire frequencies, duration and intensities
  • Importance of forest patchiness for biodiversity (wildlife, plant species, soil evolution)
  • Role of forests as primary watersheds and airsheds – water sources and clean air filters

Plant Identification

  • Learn the difference between trees, shrubs, forbs and grasses
  • Learn to identify common trees, shrubs, forbs and grasses

Forest Landowner Objectives

  • Forestland ownership
  • Ecological constraints and how they determine objective option
  • Forest stewardship concepts

Forest Management

  • Principles of Ecosystem Management
  • Introduction to various stand level management tools i.e.: fire, planting, harvest, thinning and grazing etc.
  • Forest management at a landscape scale
  • Prescribed fire in forest management
  • Forest management as a tool to protect forests
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