Salvage logging is the practice of logging forests that have been determined to be destroyed or damaged.
The practice is often considered after large wildfires, as there may be evidence that such logging could prevent or mitigate the effects of future fires.
This article investigated the effects of salvage logging after fires in Montana. Page 322: "Our results were consistent with the growing body of evidence demonstrating that post-fire salvage logging has significant negative effects on cavity-nesting birds, at least two to three years following a wildfire (Hutto 1995; Saab and Dudley 1998; Smucker et al. 2005; Hutto and Gallo 2006). Density of cavity-nesting birds was lower on the salvage than the control treatment. Moreover, few potential nest sites existed on the salvage treatment and occupied cavities were most often located in riparian buffer strips or in stands of green trees and hardwoods not subject to harvest. In contrast, abundance of Deer Mice was greater on salvage-logged than on control plots, and was closely associated with the high amount of downed woody debris on the salvage treatments. Dense stands of trees >23 cm DBH were also more common on the control than the salvage treatment. The stands provided potential foraging opportunities for primary cavity nesters, such as Hairy Woodpeckers, probably because large trees contain high densities of beetle larvae (Cerambycidae and Buprestidae) (Mannan et al. 1980; Nappi et al. 2003; Hanson and North 2008). Cavity nesters, particularly Hairy Woodpeckers, were infrequently detected during point counts in areas dominated by small trees. At least 18% of the excavations produced by Hairy Woodpeckers were used by other cavity nesters, and the paucity of Hairy Woodpeckers in salvage-logged areas probably had a negative effect on secondary cavity nesters. For example, both Mountain Bluebirds and House Wrens nested less often in the salvage-logged than the control areas. Post-fire logging therefore had both direct and indirect negative effects on the cavity-nesting assemblage."
Page 106: This study looked at the effects of post-fire salvage logging as well as changes in nest survival rates as a function of time after a fire. It found reduced nest density after salvage logging in five out of seven species. "Inferences from our study are limited because the treatments were not replicated. However, the two burns were similar in prefire crown closure, prelogging snag densities, and burn severity. We also accounted for calendar year effects when testing for differences in nest densities between the partially logged and unlogged burns. This strongly suggests that differences detected between the two burned areas were likely the result of salvage logging and not other factors. While individuals of every species in the cavity-nesting bird assemblage nested in both the logged and unlogged burns, more species favored the unlogged burn. Black-backed and Hairy Woodpeckers were most strongly associated with the unlogged burn, and both are resident species that may be more at risk from salvage-logging practices than Neotropical migrants (Imbeau et al. 2001, Morissette et al. 2002). Migrants evolved under highly variable abiotic and biotic conditions (Cox 1985), which may explain why they are less vulnerable than residents to habitat changes created by salvage logging. Black-backed Woodpeckers are considered ‘‘burn specialists’’ and may be especially vulnerable to population declines due to habitat loss from postfire salvage logging or fire suppression (Hutto 1995, Dixon and Saab 2000, Hoyt and Hannon 2002). In contrast, American Kestrels, Lewis’s Woodpeckers, and Western Bluebirds, all Neotropical migrants, persisted in the partially logged burn over the 11-year period that we monitored nests. Importantly, the salvage logging was not designed to create clearcuts, but rather to retain more than half the snags over 23 cm dbh, which provided suitable nesting and foraging habitat for aerial insectivores during the decade following fire. However, nest survival for Lewis’s Woodpeckers (and, to a lesser extent, Western Bluebirds) declined during the later postfire period, indicating that habitat quality was reduced compared to the earlier years after fire."