Experimental Forests

Experimental forests provide places for long-term science and management studies in major vegetation types of the US. Beginning in 1908 the Forest Service established a network of Experimental Forests, primarily within National Forests, to research pressing issues regarding the rehabilitation and conservation of depleted forest and rangelands.

The Upland Hardwoods Ecology and Management Research Work Unit (RWU) 4157 manages 4 of the 19 Experimental Forests maintained by the Southern Research Station. They include:

These experimental forests are all primarily oak dominated forests within the central hardwood region.

State Experimental
National Forest Acres Date
Arkansas Henry R. Koen Ozark 720 September 17, 1951
Arkansas Sylamore Ozark 4,290 March 28, 1934
North Carolina Bent Creek Pisgah 5,242 June 25, 1925
North Carolina Blue Valley Nantahala 1,400 June 23, 1964

Long-term experiments conducted on our experimental forests are focused on developing knowledge and strategies for restoring, managing, sustaining, and enhancing the vegetation and wildlife of southern upland hardwood forests. Studies in the Bent Creek Experimental Forest that continue to provide information on silvicultural questions include the Buell rehabilitation plots set out in 1931, and the farm woodlot single-tree selection study established in 1946. Experimental forests may also be used for research purposes by universities and resource management organizations.

Map showing approximate location of experimental forests

Many experimental forests also provide forest management demonstrations, tours, interpretive trails, and other educational materials to enhance public understanding of forest management principles.

Nonmotorized recreation activities such as hiking, hunting, and mountain biking are permitted on designated trails within some experimental forests. When you visit our experimental forests, please follow the rules and remember that the primary designation of these areas is for research on forest ecology and management; research study sites must not be disturbed.