The Bartlett Experimental Forest (BEF) is a field laboratory for research on the ecology and management of northern hardwoods and associated ecosystems.
The BEF is within the Saco Ranger District of the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire. It is managed by RWU-4155 of the Northern Research Station. Research activities began at the Experimental Forest when it was established in 1931 and is 2,600 acres in size but will likely double in area with the forest plan revision that is being written. The BEF extends from the village of Bartlett in the Saco River valley at 680 ft to about 3,000 ft at its upper reaches. Aspects across the forest are primarily north and east. This particular site was chosen because it represented conditions (soils, elevation, climate, tree species composition) typical of many forested areas throughout New England and northern New York.
The White Mountain National Forest, including the BEF, was purchased under the Weeks Act of 1911. In the late 19th century, the area was selectively logged for high-value species, first eastern white pine, and red spruce and later sugar maple and yellow birch. Logging railroads were laid and hardwood stands were clearcut for locomotive fuel. The lower third of the BEF was logged and some portions cleared for pasture. Upper portions were progressively less impacted with increasing elevation. Although fires are relatively rare, the 1938 hurricane did widespread damage. High grading resulted in more American beech, so when the beech scale-Nectria complex, or beech bark disease, arrived in the 1940s it caused substantial damage and continues to influence stand dynamics. An ice storm in 1998 was the most recent widespread natural disturbance, impacting mostly higher elevation stands. Occasional wind storms are common disturbances but of relatively small scale.
The Bartlett Experimental Forest is an actively managed forest; managed portions (30%) reflect a range of forest patch sizes and structural distributions. The Bartlett forest has a history of logging dating from colonial times through the beginning of the 20th century. Approximately 70% of the land area has remained uncut since the early 1900s. Natural disturbances include late 19th century fire, beech scale-Nectria complex (beech bark disease) beginning in the 1940s, severe wind disturbance resulting from hurricanes in 1938 and 1954 and a damaging ice storm in 1998.
NEON Data (relocatable terrestrial) from this site.