US Forest Service Research & Development
Contact Information
  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Nicholas L. Crookston

Operations Research Analyst
1221 South Main Street
United States

Phone: 208-883-2317
Fax: 208-883-2318
Contact Nicholas L. Crookston

Current Research

My central focus is the development and implementation of the Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS), a forest dynamics model that is directly applicable to operational forest management decision making ( FVS represents tree growth, background and disturbance-caused mortality, snag dynamics, fuel dynamics and fire, climate change, carbon stores and fluxes, linkages to forest management and planning systems, and linkages to landscape fire dynamics simulators.  I conduct scientific investigations and technical development that supports FVS.  That work includes modeling climate, climate-change, and species-climate profiles for western tree species.  One tool for delivering this science is a web site ( which directly profides climate and species information for use by others as well as that directly needed by a climate-sensitive extension of FVS (Climate-FVS).  I built and maintain this site.

Using FVS requires input data that is expensive to collect prompting development of statistical imputation techniques whereby detailed measurements of current vegetation collected on a subsample of plots is imputed into locations where this information is missing. Software to implement these methods is one of my contributions and continuing research interests.

Research Interests

See current research above

Past Research

Early in my career I was focused on forest insect pests and their impacts on forest species and size composition. In the late 1970's I worked on Mountain Pine Beetle and linked a population dynamics model for this insect pest to the Prognosis Model for Stand Development, a model that became the Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS). Later I worked on Doulas-fir Tussock Moth and Western Spruce Budworm, serving largely the same role as providing linkages between forest and insect dynamics.  In the mid 1990’s, I worked on adding fire and fuel dynamics to FVS which include that ability to account for carbon loads and fluxes. The goal was always to provide forest managers tools for evaluating management alternatives for addressing contemporary issues.

Why This Research is Important

All management decisions are based on predictions of the future outcome of implementing those decisions.  FVS is a tool that provides predictions of future forest conditions and is therefore relevant to many forest management decisions.  Keeping that tool relevant to emerging issues and driving processes equips managers with a defensible, consistent, and documented tool to aid in decision making.


  • University of Moscow, Forest Resources , 1977
  • Weber State University, Botony , 1973

Professional Experience

  • Operations Research Analyst, United States Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station.
    1984 - Current

Awards & Recognition

  • Eminent Science Publication, 2010
    Rocky Mountain Research Station Eminent Science Publication Award
  • Group Honor Award, 2001
    USDA Group Honor Award for Excellence
  • Outstanding Contribution, 2001
    USDA Forest Service Outstanding Contribution to Silviculture

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Last updated on : 06/17/2015