Rhinelander Experimental Forest

Student measuring Aspen clone; photo by Adam WieseThe Rhinelander Experimental Forest (REF), located west of Rhinelander, Wisconsin, is composed of two units, the West Unit (501 acre; 203 ha) and the East Unit (184 acres; 74 ha).

A range of physiography and ecosystems native to the region are represented. The West Unit represents upland, dry communities, while land within the East Unit represents lowland forest ecosystems and riparian communities. Combined, the Units offer research opportunities across a gradient of land uses and disturbances.

Experimental Forests serve as places for long-term science and management studies of environmental change. Opportunities for research include follow-up studies on existing plantations, new model forest studies or genetics work, and research on forest succession. The Rhinelander Experimental Forest provides education opportunities and facilities for the general public, Forest Service staffs, and other cooperating organizations such as universities and state agencies to pursue scientific inquiry. Lands also provide sites for local, regional, and global long-term environmental monitoring data. Data from studies done here become part of a national archive of long-term information on climate, forest dynamics, hydrology, and other ecosystem components.

History of the Site

The West Unit was formerly known as the Harshaw Forestry Research Farm established in 1972 by the USDA Forest Service and the Department of Energy as a venue for experiments related to trees as bioenergy crops. It has been managed for more than 40 years by the Forest Service.  Historical research focused on 1) pioneering genomics research, 2) genetics of northern conifers, and 3) maximum fiber yield through short-rotation woody crops. The East Unit consists of lands adjacent to the Institute for Applied Ecosystem Studies and managed for more than 50 years by the Forest Service. The East Unit consists of a northern hardwood mix, scattered black spruce wetlands, two lakes, and conifer plantings adding good diversity to the site.   


Selected Rhinelander EF Research Results