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Penobscot Experimental Forest

About Penobscot Experimental Forest

Unlike most Forest Service experimental forests, the PEF is not federally owned. The land was purchased by nine industrial and land-holding companies and leased to the Forest Service for research. In 1994 the landowners donated the property to the University of Maine Foundation. Today the Forest Service continues its work on the PEF through a memorandum of understanding with the University.

[photo:] Experimental exploitative cutting on the PEF, 1950s.Current work by the Forest Service on the PEF reflects a long-term agency commitment to research that supports sustainable management of northern conifer, or eastern spruce-fir, forests. As early as the late 1800s, the Forest Service was conducting research on the ecology and silviculture of spruce (Picea spp.) and balsam fir (Abies balsamea) throughout New England and the Adirondacks of New York. Early work in this forest type focused on restoring the production potential of stands degraded by exploitive cutting, and included cutting trials in New Hampshire and New York. Those studies set the stage for later research on the PEF in Maine, which evolved to address sustainability of production, composition, and structure, as well as the ecological effects of silviculture and exploitative cutting.