An alternative harvesting prescription designed to create winter forage for Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) and restore indigenous wildlife and vegetation communities was first applied to the Skull Special Resource Management Zone (Skull SRMZ) in 1998. A long-term monitoring program established at the same time has been examining the impacts of the harvest on the winter habitat of mule deer. During the summer of 2003, wildfire dramatically changed the landscape of the Skull SRMZ. The McLure fire affected most of the study area. During the fall season immediately following the wildfire, surveys were conducted to determine the broad fire intensity at each established mule deer sample site. Surveys of mule deer in the area the following winter, provided insight into the habitats used by deer immediately following this catastrophic disturbance. A subset of existing permanent transect locations were sampled. The transects sampled a broad spectrum of post-fire habitats including sites with differing fire severities, existing harvested cutblocks, and sites scheduled for salvage harvest. Based on track abundance, deer tended to select for habitats with between 16 and 60% canopy closure. In addition, deer tended to use habitats with standing green trees. Browse species utilized by mule deer included high proportions of coniferous species Interior Douglas-fir and Western redcedar. Saskatoon, Douglas maple, and redstem ceonothus were also used. The wildfire of 2003 will offer a unique opportunity to examine mule deer response, to habitat alteration and recovery in sites harvested pre- and post- fire as well as sites left for natural recovery Cascadia Natural Resource Consultants Inc., Donna-Marie K. Falat and David F. Caswell.
Cascadia Natural Resource Consultants Inc., Falat, Donna-Marie K.; Caswell, David F.. 2004. Skull special resource management zone deer monitoring program 2003-04 summary report. Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program. Forest Investment Account Report. FIA2004MR120