PORTLAND, Ore. January 28, 2005. The Pacific
Northwest (PNW) Research Station, USDA Forest Service, has named
the interim directors of its newest research, development, and
application unit, the Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment
Center in Prineville, Ore.
John Laurence, manager of PNW Research
Processes research program, has been named Interim Director. Becky
Kerns, a research ecologist with the Managing Disturbance Regimes
research program, has been named Assistant Interim Director. Both
officially assumed their new duties on January 24.
John and Becky will be vital in laying the foundation for the center
to do its important work,” said Thomas Quigley, Station Director.
The two will lead a variety of efforts to prepare the center for
its permanent staff, including the renovation of office space,
establishment of communication lines, and development of an initial
work plan for the year with the help of partners and collaborators,
The center’s mission is to predict, detect, and
assess environmental threats to the Western United States’ forests
and rangelands, collectively referred to as “wildlands.”
Wildlands in the West have always been shaped by interacting stresses
such as harmful insect infestations, disease, fire and drought,” Laurence
said. “As the Forest Service works to improve the health
of wildlands to meet the multiple values of our society, it’s
important for managers to have accurate and credible predictions
of developing problems.”
Larry Timchak, Supervisor of the
Ochoco National Forest, where the center is housed, will be working
closely with the center.
He also will be benefiting directly from its work.
“Forest supervisors have a pretty good grasp of the current
problems on the lands we manage, so what we really need is to know
what’s coming five
years down the road so we can be proactive,” he said.“
of the center is to provide that early warning,” Laurence said.
center is a joint effort of the National Forest System, State and Private
Forestry, and Forest Service Research and Development. Its permanent director
is expected to be named in early April, with the recruitment and filling
of its staff positions occurring soon thereafter.
Although Laurence and
Kerns will spend time in the Prineville area while serving in their
interim positions, they will continue to be based at PNW
Forestry Sciences Laboratory in Corvallis, Ore. They also will continue
to work for their respective research programs.
The PNW Research Station
is headquartered in Portland, Ore. It has 10 laboratories located in
Alaska, Oregon, and Washington and about 500 employees.