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Kane Experimental Forest


The Kane Experimental Forest was established on March 23, 1932, though research had begun as early as 1927. Its primary mission has been forest management research, though watershed research was included in the beginning and wildlife research is part of the current program. Ongoing long-term studies include individual tree and understory vegetation measurements; treatments such as thinnings, regeneration cuts, uneven-age cuts, and long-term measurements of unmanaged forest. The Kane is used heavily for training and tours for educational, professional, and landowner groups. National Atmospheric Deposition Program data have been collected at the forest since 1978.


Approximately 1,100 mm of precipitation falls each year, mostly as rain, including 10 cm per month during the growing season. Wind events of all scales are the most common natural disturbances. Precipitation can be highly acidic, as the Kane receives some of the highest deposition levels of both sulfate and nitrate in the eastern United States.


Soils are derived from sandstones and shales that are unglaciated, often with a fragipan.


Vegetation is primarily of the Allegheny hardwood variant of the northern hardwood type. Tree species include black cherry, sugar and red maple, American beech, eastern hemlock, sweet birch, and striped maple.

Research, Past and Present

Research at the Kane EF is aimed at understanding ecology and stand-development processes in stratified mixed hardwood forests and the interactions of these processes with forest management. The focus is on regeneration processes, wood production, and, more recently, on carbon sequestration and wildlife habitat. Regeneration research has included studies of the effects of white-tailed deer and the mechanisms of interference from invasive, native understory herbaceous and woody species.

Major Research Accomplishments and Effects on Management

Regeneration studies conducted on the Kane were translated into guidelines for assessing understory regeneration stocking that changed the way harvesting decisions were made throughout Pennsylvania and beyond. Data collected from thinning studies form the basis for the SILVAH stand growth simulator, and management guidelines developed from KEF research form the basis for the decision-support processes in the SILVAH computer program. Through the silvicultural training sessions conducted annually on the Kane, results from research there are widely adopted and were cited in recent certification reports for public agencies through the Forest Stewardship Council as one component of a sustainable forest management program.


Collaborating institutions include the Allegheny National Forest, Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, Pennsylvania State University, University of Pittsburgh, State University of New York, the National Atmospheric Deposition Program, and several Forest Service research work units.

Research Opportunities

In addition to the opportunities that arise simply because long-term data sets are associated with many plots on the Kane, there are numerous subjects for which data from existing study plots could provide important insights on herbaceous plant communities, soil mega- and microfauna, lichens, fungi, genetics of tree and other plants, and various wildlife communities. Because a great deal is known about the disturbance history of much of the Kane, such studies could be rich and rewarding in a short time. There is also the opportunity to resume hydrologic studies.


There are two small bunkhouses, one housing up to six people, and another in renovation housing two persons. There is a small office, a garage, a 1930s-era blacksmith shop, a shed, and a prefab classroom/conference facility erected in 1985.

Lat. 41°35′52″ N, long. 78°45′58″ W

Contact Information

Kane Experimental Forest
Forestry Sciences Laboratory
P.O. Box 267
Irvine, PA 16365
Tel: (814) 837-7349
Tel: (814) 563-1040

Related Publications

Marquis, David A.; Ernst, Richard L. 1991. The effects of stand structure after thinning on the growth of an Allegheny hardwood stand. Forest Science 37(4): 1182-1200.

Nowak, Christopher A. 1996. Wood volume increment in thinned, 50- to 55-year-old, mixed-species Allegheny hardwoods. Can. J. For. Res. 26:819-835.

Nowak, C.A; Marquis, D.A. 1997. Distribution-of-cut guides for thinning in Allegheny hardwoods: a review. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service Res. Note NE-362. Radnor, PA: Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 8 pp.

Stout, Susan L.; Ristau, Todd E. 2005. Long-term Research on the USFS Kane Experimental Forest in Northwestern Pennsylvania

Stout, S.L.; Hoover, C.; Ristau, T. 2006. Listening to old beech and young cherry trees - long-term research in the Alleghenies. In Irland, L.C.; Camp, A.E; Brissette, J.C; Donohew, Z.R. Long-term silvicultural & ecological studies: results for science and management. Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry GISF Res. Pap. 005. New Haven, CT: Yale University. 10-25.

USDA Forest Service Northeastern Research Station. 1999. Kane Experimental Forest

Yanai, R.D.; Twery, M.S.; Stout, S.L. 1998. Woody understory response to changes in overstory density: thinning in Allegheny hardwoods. Forest Ecology and Management 102: 45-60

Summary information presented here was originally published in:

Adams, Mary Beth; Loughry, Linda; Plaugher, Linda, comps. 2004. Experimental Forests and Ranges of the USDA Forest Service. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-321. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station. 178 p.

Information may have been updated since original publication.

Last Modified: 02/14/2012