The Maybeso Experimental Forest, located on Prince of Wales Island in southeast Alaska near Ketchikan, was established in 1956 to investigate the effects of clearcut timber harvesting on forest regeneration and regrowth, and on the physical habitat of anadromous salmonid spawning areas. The watershed was exposed to the first large-scale industrial clearcut logging in southeast Alaska and nearly all commercial forest was removed from the watershed, including the riparian zone, from 1953 through 1960. The present forest is an even-aged, second-growth spruce and hemlock forest.
The watershed is a broad U-shaped glacially sculpted valley with a single stream network. The stream flows through a floodplain composed of glacial till up to headwater tributaries to an elevation of 900 m. The area of the watershed is approximately 4,452 ha. Pink, chum, and coho salmon, and Dolly Varden, steelhead, and cutthroat trout are present throughout the main stream and tributaries. Wildlife species include several mammals and a variety of resident and migrant birds. Mammals include Sitka black-tailed deer, black bear, beaver, American marten, ermine, northern flying squirrel, Keen’s mouse, long-tailed vole, dusky shrew, and several species of bats. Forest and riparian birds include bald eagle, northern goshawk, and several species of owls, chickadees, wrens, warblers, and thrushes. Other birds found in the watershed are Steller’s jay, northwestern crow, raven, and spruce grouse. The species assemblages are representative of a second-growth forest in a temperate rainforest ecosystem.
The proximity of other watersheds in various stages of forest succession on Prince of Wales Island contributes to the significance of the Maybeso. The Old Tom Research Natural Area (an old-growth forested watershed) is located in nearby Skowl Arm and is accessible by boat or float plane. It can provide an old-growth control for some aspects of studies in the Maybeso. Current research in the watershed is focused on studies to provide information on the management of second-growth watersheds and for the development and evaluation of watershed restoration methods.