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Many coastal forests stretching from central California to southwest Oregon are threatened or have been impacted by the invasive forest pathogen Phytophthora ramorum, the cause of sudden oak death. We analyzed a set of stand-level forest treatments aimed at preventing or mitigating disease impacts on stand composition, biomass, and fuels using a before–after-control-intervention experiment with a re-evaluation after 5 years. We compared the effects of restorative management for invaded stands and preventative treatments for uninvaded forests with two stand-level experiments. The restorative treatments contrasted two approaches to mastication, hand-crew thinning, and thinning with pile burning with untreated controls replicated at three distinct sites (N = 30), while the preventative treatments were limited to hand-crew thinning (N = 10) conducted at a single site. Half of the restoration treatments had basal sprouts removed 2 and 4 years after treatment. All treatments significantly reduced stand density and increased average tree size without significantly decreasing total basal area, both immediately and 5 years after treatments. Preventative treatments did not reduce the basal area or density of timber species not susceptible to P. ramorum, suggesting the relative dominance of these species increased in accordance with host removal. Follow-up basal sprout removal in the restoration experiment appears to maintain treatment benefits for average tree size and may be associated with small decreases in stand density 5 years after initial treatment. Our study demonstrates that for at least 5 years, a range of common stand management practices can improve forest conditions threatened or impacted by sudden oak death.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.