RMRS Air, Water, & Aquatic Environments Science Program US Forest Service - RMRS Air, Water, & Aquatic Environments Science Program USDA Forest Service Research & Development

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About the Rocky Mountain Research Station

AWAE Program Headquarters
322 East Front St., Ste 401

Boise, ID 83702

(208) 373-4340


Rocky Mountain Research Station Headquarters

2150 Centre Ave., Bldg A
Fort Collins, CO 80526

(970) 295-5923


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The RMRS Air, Water, and Aquatic Environments (AWAE) Science Program develops core knowledge, methods, and technologies that enable effective watershed management in forests and grasslands, sustain biodiversity, and maintain healthy watershed conditions.



  • Our Mission
  • Our Scientists
  • Subject Areas
  • Unit Locations
  • Science Briefing Papers
  • Products, Models & Tools

Mission Statement

The Air, Water, and Aquatic Environments (AWAE) Research Program conducts basic and applied research on the effects of natural processes and human activities on watershed resources including interactions between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. The knowledge we develop supports the management, conservation, and restoration of terrestrial, riparian and aquatic ecosystems and provides for sustainable clean air and water quality and delivery in the Interior West.

RMRS Introduction | RMRS-AWAE (4354) Charter


Natural disturbances, land management, and human expansion affect the quality and quantity of air, water and aquatic resources. Our research explores the complex relationships among the physical, chemical and biological properties of watersheds, the ecosystem processes that sustain biodiversity, and resource conservation and restoration to meet the science needs of resource managers and natural resource policy.


From discoveries about basic ecological and biological processes, we develop models to predict watershed responses to changing landscape and climate conditions. Because managers need tools to evaluate environmental change and manage terrestrial and aquatic resources, we develop science applications to transfer knowledge into scientifically sound management recommendations.


With capabilities in atmospheric sciences, soils, forest engineering, biogeochemistry, hydrology, terrestrial and riparian plant physiology, aquatic ecology and limnology, conservation biology and fisheries, our scientists focus on two key research problems:


  • Core watershed research quantifies the dynamics of hydrologic, geomorphic and biogeochemical processes in forests and rangelands at multiple scales and defines the biological processes and patterns that affect the distribution, resilience, and persistence of native aquatic, riparian and terrestrial species.
  • Integrated, interdisciplinary research explores effects of climate variability and change on forest, grassland and aquatic ecosystems.


For more information about the Air, Water and Aquatic Environments Program, visit our scientists, research, or publications pages.

AWAE Scientists


Frank McCormick, AWAE Program Manager, Boise Lab



John Buffington, Research Geomorphologist, Boise Lab


Kate Dwire, Research Riparian Ecologist, Fort Collins Lab


Kelly Elder,  Team Leader; Research Hydrologist, Fort Collins Lab


Bill Elliot, Team Leader; Research Civil Engineer, Moscow Lab


Robert Hubbard, Research Ecologist, Fort Collins Lab


Daniel Isaak, Fisheries Research Scientist, Boise Lab


Charlie Luce, Team Leader; Research Hydrologist, Boise Lab


Hugo Magana, Fisheries Biologist, Albuquerque Lab


Jim McKean,  Research Geomorphologist, Boise Lab


Robert Musselman, Team Leader; Research Plant Physiologist, Fort Collins Lab


David Nagel, Spatial Analyst and Physical Scientist, Boise Lab


Daniel Neary, Team Leader; Research Soil Scientist, Flagstaff Lab


Chuck Rhoades, Research Biogeochemist, Fort Collins Lab


Bruce Rieman, Emeritus Fisheries Scientist, Boise Lab


Peter Robichaud, Research Engineer, Moscow Lab


Sandra Ryan Burkett, Research Hydrologist/Geomorphologist, Fort Collins Lab


Russ Thurow, Team Leader; Research Fisheries Scientist, Boise Lab


Natalie Wagenbrenner, Engineer, Moscow Lab


Michael Young, Team Leader; Research Fisheries Biologist, Missoula Lab



Entire RMRS Staff Directory (pdf)

Research Subject Areas


AWAE Scientists cover a wealth of different subject areas with much collaboration between specialties. Find AWAE research products, scientists and projects by subject area!


Quick Jump to:
bulletAquatic Ecology bulletEngineering bulletHydrology bulletSpatial Analysis
bulletAtmospheric Sciences bulletFire & Fuels bulletPlant Physiology bulletWater & Watershed Processes
bulletBiogeochemistry bulletFisheries


bulletClimate Change bulletGeomorphology bulletSediment & Erosion  


ecology image of a bird


Aquatic Ecology
The interdisciplinary scientific study of the distribution and abundance of organisms and their interactions with their aquatic environment (external abiotic and biotic factors). Ecology is a subdiscipline of Biology, which is the study of life. The most prevalent research topics in Aquatic Ecology here at AWAE include: Bark Beetle research, invasive species, restoration ecology, fire ecology, riparian environments and more.

Scientists & Collaborators: Kate Dwire, Robert

Hubbard, Claire McGrath


Subject Categories: Fisheries, Vertebrates & Invertebrates, Invasive Species, Stream Temperature.



atmospheric science image

Atmospheric Sciences

Atmospheric science is the study of the atmosphere - the blanket of air covering the Earth. Atmospheric scientists study the atmosphere's physical characteristics, motions, processes, and the way in which these factors affect the rest of our environment.

Scientists & Collaborators: Jaime Goode, Robert Hubbard, Dan Isaak, Charlie Luce, Jim McKean, Bob Musselman, Chuck

Rhoades, Bruce Rieman


Subject Categories: Air Quality, Atmospheric Deposition, Ozone, Climate Change
Biogeochemistry: Burned landscape

Biogeochemistry is the scientific study of the processes and reactions (chemical, physical, geological, biological) which control the composition of the natural environment. It also looks at the cycles of matter and energy that transfer the Earth’s chemical components in time and space.

Biogeochemists: Chuck Rhoades


Subject Categories: Aquatic Ecology, Atmospheric Sciences, Climate Change, Water & Watershed Processes


Climate Change image

Climate Change

Climate Change refers to the gradual shift in earth's overall temperature and weather patterns through time. Alarming trends toward a rapidly warming climate have AWAE scientists researching the destructive effects of climate change on the Aquatic Environment. Such research involves stream temperature, wildland fires, thermal habitats, air quality and ozone to name a few.

Scientists & Collaborators: Kelly Elder, Jaime Goode, Dan Isaak, Charlie Luce, Jim McKean, Bruce Rieman


Subject Categories: Air Quality, Fire & Fuels, Fisheries, Stream Temperature, Watershed Processes




Engineering image

Engineering applies technical, scientific, and mathematical knowledge in using natural laws and physical resources to design and create materials, structures, machines, devices, systems, and processes in order to accomplish a desired objective. Engineers within AWAE work with soil and water research, aquatic probability and prediction modelling, erosion control materials and other mitigation techniques, fire behavior models, etc.

Scientists & Collaborators: Bill Elliot, Randy Foltz, Peter Robichaud, Joe Wagenbrenner, Natalie Wagenbrenner


Subject Categories: Sediment & Erosion, Watershed Processes


fire image

Fire & Fuels
Wildland fires in the arid west create a cause for concern for many inhabitants and an area of interest for researchers. With AWAE, fundamental and applied research relates to atmospheric effects of fire on aquatic environments, and ecological adaptations to fire as well as the development of associated knowledge tools and applications for both scientists and managers in wildfire management.

Scientists & Collaborators: John Buffington, Kate Dwire, Bill Elliot, Randy Foltz, Dan Isaak, Charlie Luce, Dan Neary, Chuck Rhoades, Bruce Rieman, John Rinne, Peter Robichaud, Joe Wagenbrenner, Natalie Wagenbrenner, Michael Young


Subject Categories: Aquatic Ecology, Climate Change, Stream Temperature
Bull Trout image for fisheries

RMRS Fisheries research looks at watershed processes and aquatic ecology to guide management of aquatic ecosystems and water/soil resources. Scientists develop knowledge of the biophysical conditions and processes that influence water quality and quantity, aquatic habitat quality, and the distribution, diversity, and persistence of fish and other aquatic species.

Scientists & Collaborators: Dan Isaak, Hugo Magana,Bruce Rieman, John Rinne, Russ Thurow, Michael Young


Subject Categories: Climate Change, Invasive Species, Stream Temperature


Geomorphology image

Geomorphology is the science that deals with relief features of the earth or of another celestial body and looks towards describing and classifying such topographic characteristics. This interdisciplinary subject works within AWAE with such subjects as soil, climate change, road erosion, hydrology, engineering and more.

Scientists & Collaborators: John Buffington, Jaime Goode, Jim McKean, Sandra Ryan-Burkett


Subject Categories:


hydrology image

Hydrology is the scientific discipline concerned with the waters of the Earth, with their occurrence, distribution, and circulation by means of the hydrologic cycle and relations with living things. It also deals with the chemical and physical properties of water in all its phases. This field focuses greatly on snow hydrology, stream-riparian environments, soils, erosion, climate change, wildfire, geomorphology, etc.

Scientists & Collaborators: Kelly Elder,Tom Black, Charlie Luce, Sandra Ryan-Burkett


Subject Categories: Watershed Processes


plant physiology aerial photograph

Plant Physiology
Plant physiology is the study of internal plant activities including phytochemistry, environmental interactions, plant morphology, molecular and cell biology, and cellular interactions. Such AWAE research studies eco-physiology, fire effects, nutrition, plant regeneration and recovery, etc.

Scientists: Robert Musselman


Subject Categories: Atmospheric Science


soil research

Soils, Sediment & Erosion
The study of soil as a natural resource on the surface of the earth including soil formation, classification and mapping; physical, chemical, biological, and fertility properties of soils; and these properties in relation to the use and management of soils. AWAE scientists study soil erosion: mitigation techniques, prediction and processes; fire and fuel effects, soil carbon decomposition rates and climate change, and more.

Scientists & Collaborators: Dan Neary


Subject Categories: Roads, Waterways, Hydrology, Watershed Processes
GIS and DEM image

Spatial Analysis
Spatial Analysis involves the processing of multiple geographic themes to help understand new relationships among features on the landscape. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS) are the primary disciplines that support Spatial Analysis. At AWAE, GIS and RS are used in numerous applications such as modeling sediment yield from roads, estimating soil erosion rates, predicting stream temperatures, and mapping aquatic habitat.

Scientists & Collaborators: David Nagel, Sharon Parkes, Jim McKean, Tom Black, Charlie Luce


Subject Interests: River Bathymetry, Remote Sensing: Channels, GRAIP: Road Impacts, Stream Temperature



Water & Watershed Processes
A riparian area is the interface between land and a stream. Soil conservation occurs in these biodiversified aquatic ecosystems. They can flourish in grassland, woodland, wetland, or even non-vegetative zones. AWAE stream riparian research looks at water availability and quality, aquatic ecosystems; species distribution, diversity and persistence, aquatic resources in society, management and livestock grazing, fire effects, climate change and natural disturbances, dams/water diversions and more.

Scientists & Collaborators:

(see page for full list)


Subject Categories: Disturbance, Stream Temperature, Water Quality, Roads, LiDAR, Climate Change, Hydrology, Geomorphology, Erosion.

AWAE Field Unit Locations


Research Field Unit Locations located throughout the interior west each contribute to the AWAE science program research. 

AWAE Field Unit Locations Map

Albuquerque Lab, Boise Lab, Flagstaff Lab, Fort Collins Lab, Missoula Lab, Moscow Lab

All Research Field Unit Locations including experimental forests

Science Briefing Papers


These one or two-page summaries are packed with information on finalized research products and publications.

Title of AWAE Science Briefing Paper

Description of Science Briefing Paper

Adaptation for Wildland Aquatic Resources

Environmental trends associated with a warming climate are occurring rapidly in the Rocky Mountains. These trends will affect the spatial and temporal distribution of water resources, habitats, and disturbance in aquatic ecosystems. Threats from reduced runoff, increased flow variability, increased temperature, increased wildfires, lost snowpack storage, and reduced vegetation cover affect water users and aquatic biota alike. The complex challenges posed by climate warming will require proactive, informed management if significant alteration of aquatic systems is to be avoided.

Bull Trout and Climate Change

Bull trout are an ESA listed species that may be especially vulnerable to the effects of a warming climate.  As such they may be a useful biological indicator of the effects climate change will have on mountain stream ecosystems.  Understanding threats to persistence of bull trout will help us understand threats to other species and ecosystems — information that will be key to prioritization of limited management resources.

Bull Trout Monitoring

Bull trout are native to much of the Pacific Northwest, but population declines during the 20th century prompted listing under the Endangered Species Act. Several national forests have also selected bull trout as a Management Indicator Species, which makes monitoring a priority.


Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Tools

A considerable investment in post-fire research over the past decade has improved our understanding of the effects of wildfire. Loss of vegetation exposes soil to erosion, runoff may increase and cause flooding, sediments may move downstream and damage houses or fill reservoirs, and put endangered species and community water supplies at risk. Using this new knowledge, the Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) program has developed several tools to assist land managers with post-wildfire assessment and treatment decisions.

Carbon Storage in Mountain Rivers

Estimates of riverine carbon storage represent a previously undocumented but important carbon sink.

Changes in Channel Morphology Over Human Time Scales - Science Briefing

Rivers are dynamic, and subject to rapid change in channel shape and flow pattern.

Chinook Redd Distributions

A network-scale distribution of Chinook salmon redds generated a unique data set that has been used for a wide range of studies addressing conservation issues for declining Pacific salmon populations.

Geomorphic Classification of Rivers

Land management and stream restoration activities require an understanding of fluvial geomorphology and complex biophysical interactions.

Climate Change And Spawning Habitat

Climate change is altering the amount, timing, and quality of water received from winter snowpack, This will impact redd scouring and the quality and quantity of suitable rearing and spawning habitat.

Climate Change and Wildfires

Stream temperature increases associated with climate trends and wildfires has severe impacts on suitable available habitat for native fish species.

Climate Change and Fish Conservation

Fishery managers should incorporate local and regional climate change projections into future management decisions using a structured decision framework coupled with analytical tools and spatial data sets.

Climate Change and Rocky Mountain Native Trout


Rapidly warming climates across the Rocky Mountains threatens many populations of native fishes. Models predict large reductions in native trout across the Rocky Mountains in the 21st century.

Consequences of salvage logging on post-beetle outbreak lodgepole pine forests

Salvage logging in beetle killed lodgepole pine stands may dampen the behavior and severity of potential future wildfires.

DNA barcoding at riverscape scales

DNA analysis shows abundant biodiversity among sculpin species and scientists reveal a newly discovered species.

Detecting Rare Species Using Environmental DNA (eDNA)


Environmental DNA is being rapidly adopted as a tool to detect rare or difficult to detect species.

Estimating Valley Confinement

Valley confinement is an important landscape characteristic that provides vital ecosystem functions.

Forest Biomass Utilization and Watershed Processes

Forest biomass utilization can be used to improve forest health and decrease the risk of wildfire, both of which improve watershed health.

Veterans Service At Fraser Experimental Forest

Watershed research at Fraser Experimental Forest has provided long-term data on water yield and water quality from alpine forests in the Rocky Mountains.

Geomorphic Road Assessment and Inventory Package (GRAIP)

The Geomorphic Road Assessment and Inventory Package (GRAIP) is a process and a set of tools for analyzing the impacts of roads on forested watersheds. GRAIP combines a road inventory with a powerful GIS analysis tool set to predict sediment production and delivery, mass wasting risk from gullies and landslides, stream diversion potential, culvert maintenance and fish passage at stream crossings.

Monitoring the Effects of the High Park Fire

The High Park fire burned over 350 km2 of forest, demonstrating the powerful and enduring force fire has had, and will continue to have, on National Forest lands.

Measuring Water and Sediment Discharge

Quantifying and prioritizing reduction activities for sediment sources on forest roads is a major concern for managers.

Mountain pine beetle effects on lodgepole transpiration

Fungi introduced by bark beetles are the primary cause of tree mortality following MPB attack and significantly reduce transpiration soon after beetle infestation.

Movement and Capture Efficiency of Radio-Tagged Salmonids

RMRS fishery biologists assess how characteristics of radio-tagged fish and habitat influence the probability and extent of movement and probability of capture during electrofishing.

National Stream Internet

A National Stream Internet will enable consistent application of sophisticated analysis tools to many types of stream data and databases throughout the U.S

NorWeST: A Regional Stream Temperature Database and Modeled Climate Scenarios

Temperature in aquatic ecosystems is a fundamentally important property that dozens of resource agencies across the Northwest routinely monitor. Significant amounts of stream temperature data have been collected during the last two decades. NorWeST is a strategic coordination of these collection efforts within and among agencies and as the project continues to progress it has developed considerable interest and support across the region, stimulating collaborations among agencies, and serving as a model for initiatives in other parts of the country.

Ozone in Mountain Ecosystems

The monitoring of ozone in remote ecosystems is problematic, since continuous ozone monitors need electric power to operate. Two solutions to this problem exist. The first is to use passive samplers to estimate ozone loading. Passive samplers utilize a chemical reaction of ozone with nitrite to form nitrate. The amount of nitrate indicates the amount of ozone loading. Nitrite-coated filters are exposed for 1-2 weeks and then analyzed for nitrate. The second method is to use portable battery powered ozone monitors for continuous monitoring of ozone in remote ecosystems.

Road Decommissioning: Picking the Right Road There are many miles of roads in our National Forests,
many of them old and untended. Many examples exist
where abandoned older roads fail and divert water from
streams over hillsides, destroying downstream infrastructure
and fish habitat.

Pilot Watershed Vulnerability Assessment Project

Forest managers are expected to anticipate and respond to the threat of a changing climate by adjusting management priorities and actions. Drawing distinctions in climate change vulnerability among watersheds on a national forest or grassland allows more efficient and effective allocation of resources and better land and watershed stewardship.

Precipitation Declines in Pacific Northwest Mountains

High-elevation climate trends in the Pacific Northwest show that streamflow declines are linked to decreases and changes in wind patterns that bring precipitation to mountains.

River Bathymetry Toolkit (RBT)

Traditional techniques for describing and understanding aquatic physical habitat in streams have focused on manual measurements of channel topography. The River Bathymetry Toolkit (RBT) makes it possible to efficiently characterize in-stream and floodplain geomorphology to support aquatic habitat analyses and numerical models of flow and sediment transport. The RBT is available for free and is under active development.

Reducing post-fire hillslope erosion

Mulch treatments (agricultural straw, woods strands, wood shreds, and hydromulch) are frequently recommended as a technique used to mitigate post-fire increases in runoff and erosion rates. Their comparative effectiveness is analyzed to determine the best treatment(s) for a specific location.

Reducing post-fire runoff and sediment yields

The effectiveness of wheat straw mulch and hydromulch to mitigate post-fire runoff, peak flow rates, and sediment yields from natural rainfall was tested and compared in paired catchments.

Reducing Post-Fire Hillslope Erosion with Wood Shreds

Although wood shreds are much heavier, take longer to apply, and are more costly than other mulch treatments (e.g., agricultural straw), the advantages of wood shreds—on- or near-site availability, greater stability in high winds and on steep slopes, and lack of unwanted plant seeds from off-site—make wood shred mulch useful in areas where other mulch treatments may not be desirable.

Remote Sensing

Traditional techniques for describing and understanding aquatic physical habitat in streams have focused on manual measurements of channel topography. New remote sensing techniques, such as airborne water-penetrating Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) can produce highly accurate Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) with continuous coverage of long segments of channels and stream networks.

Sediment Delivery In A Changing Climate

Headwater basins periodically produce massive pulses of sediment to main stem rivers. Understanding how this sediment affects fluvial processes, aquatic habitats, and infrastructure along river corridors is key to allocating limited management resources.

Spatial Statistical Modeling Tools for Stream Networks

A new class of spatial statistical models has been developed for application to stream networks. These models are unique because they account for patterns of spatial autocorrelation, thus they can be used to improve predictions of physical, chemical, and biological characteristics on stream networks.

Species Distribution Uncertainty

Forecast of species distributions under future climates are inherently uncertain; nonetheless, uncertainty in species distributions should be taken into consideration in conservation planning and reserve design.

Stream Isotherm Shifts from Climate Change

Distributions of some species already appear to be shifting to cooler areas (higher elevations and poleward) in response to climate change.

Stream Temperature Modeling and Monitoring

Stream thermal regimes are important within regulatory contexts and strongly affect aquatic ecosystems. Numerous approaches have been developed for modeling stream temperatures, but broad application of these models to USFS lands has been constrained by data limitations and poor predictive ability. RMRS scientists have developed an approach to modeling stream temperatures that requires a minimum of field effort by using existing temperature records in combination with GIS and remote sensing technologies. The approach is being applied in a central Idaho watershed to map thermal habitat networks for native fish species, but could also be used to forecast future habitat distributions, improve understanding of factors affecting stream temperatures, determine compliance with water quality standards, or optimize temperature sampling strategies.

Tools to Model Road Impacts

Forest roads are a principle source of anthropogenic fine sediment entering streams on Forest Service lands. RMRS has developed a set of tools to manage the environmental impacts of road systems on watersheds.

Using Underwater Epoxy To Install Temperature Sensors

Thermal regimes are a fundamental attribute of stream ecosystems and the ability to monitor and model these regimes are rapidly advancing. With a simple protocol that uses underwater epoxy to attach sensors, more than 500 new monitoring sites were established from 2010 to 2012 in rivers and streams across the Rocky Mountains.

Western US Stream Flow Metric Dataset

The Western US Stream Flow Metric Dataset makes it possible to study the effects of droughts, changes in snowpack, water resource impacts, and other hydrologic changes for historical and
future climate change scenarios.

Wildfire impacts on stream sedimentation

Projected climatic trends, increased frequency of wildfires, and changing hydrology are likely to increase sediment production and yields in mountain basins.


Products Models & Tools


Quick Jump To:

Soil, Water & Erosion Fire Resource, Data & Analysis

bulletRoad Impacts

bulletWater Erosion Prediction

bulletErosion Risk Management

bulletFire Runoff & Gully Initiation

bulletSoil & Water Tools

bulletWildland Fire Behavior

bulletFire Behavior & Growth

bulletFire Climatology & Occurrence Analysis

bulletFire Behavior Mapping

bulletFire Weather Website

bulletFire Modeling Institute

bulletAnalyzing Rating Judgments

bulletError Check Microsatellites

bulletInsect & Disease Population

bulletBark Beetle Research

Resource, Management & Use


Water & Air

bulletHabitat Suitability Index

bulletPlanning: Economic Analysis

bulletVegetation/Road Activities

bulletLandscape Patterns & Processes simulation

bulletWatershed Effects of Management Activities

bulletRiver Bathymetry Toolkit

bulletStream Temperature

bulletSoil & Water Tools

bulletStream Flow Metric Dataset





Road Erosion image



Soil, Water & Erosion

GRAIP- Quantifying and Prioritizing Road Impacts

Forest roads are the principle source of anthropogenic fine sediment entering streams on Forest Service lands.  How do we efficiently locate, quantify and prioritize these sediment sources for remediation?


GRAIP Science Briefing   |   GRAIP Website | Road Decommissioning: Picking the Right Road Science Briefing


WEPP: Water Erosion Prediction Project

FS WEPP is a set of interfaces designed to allow users to quickly evaluate erosion and sediment delivery potential from forest roads. The erosion rates and sediment delivery are predicted by the Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP) model, using input values for forest conditions developed by scientists at the Rocky Mountain Research Station. WEPP Interfaces Home




ERMiT: Erosion Risk Management Tool

ERMiT allows users to predict the probability of a given amount of sediment delivery from the base of a hillslope following variable burns on forest, rangeland, and chaparral conditions in each of five years following wildfires.

ERMiT. Ermit Tool


  FERGI: Fire Enhanced Runoff and Gully Initiation Model


FERGI estimates the probability of runoff generation amounts and gully initiation positions on hillslopes after fire and after mitigations, such as contour felled logs, are applied. It uses stochastically generated weather time series as inputs to determine the probability of particular outcomes. It reports return intervals for runoff generation rates and totals, how high up the hillslope gullies will initiate, and the changes that might be expected with treatment.


To use the FERGI model, visit the FERGI model website.




Fire Image


BehavePlus, a software application to predict wildland fire behavior for fire management purposes, from the Fire Behavior group at the Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory.


FARSITE, a software simulator of fire behavior and growth, from the Fire Behavior group at the Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory.



FireFamily Plus, a software application combining the fire climatology and occurrence analysis capabilities of the PCFIRDAT, PCSEASON, FIRES, and CLIMATOLOGY programs into a single package, from the Fire Behavior group at the Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory.



FlamMap, a fire behavior mapping and analysis software application that computes potential fire behavior characteristics, from the Fire Behavior group at the Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory.



Fire Weather website, supporting the RMRS Rocky Mountain Center development and deployment of real-time computer applications for fire-weather intelligence and smoke dispersion forecasts over the Western USA. Developed by the Natural Resource Assessment, Ecology, and Management Science Research group at the Rocky Mountain Research Station.



Fire Modeling Institute website, providing assistance with fire-related planning, research, practical applications of fire management tools, and finding or ordering scientific literature. The Institute includes highly skilled fire professionals and information specialists at the Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory who are available to help managers and scientists with a wide range of fire-related needs.


  IF3: Integrating Forests, Fish, and Fire, is a Bayesian decision support model that uses information on forest vegetation, human alterations to terrestrial and aquatic habitat condition, and the potential for fire-related disturbance to predict post-fire population persistence for stream fish.  The purpose of the model is to evaluate alternative vectors for maximizing the resilience to future fire activity of forest stands supporting sensitive stream fish, such as bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus). 




Bark Beetle Image

Resource Data & Analysis

RMRATE, a software application for analyzing rating judgments, useful to practitioners needing to summarize or analyze rating data, and to researchers interested in comparing and evaluating alternative scaling methods. Available from the Identification and Valuation Of Wildland Resource Benefits group at the Rocky Mountain Research Station.



DROPOUT, a software application to error check microsatellite datasets for potential genotyping errors, from the Wildlife Habitats group at the Missoula Forestry Sciences Laboratory.



FINDIT, a software application for analyzing insect and disease population information taken during stand surveys, from the Logan Forestry Sciences Laboratory.


  Bark Beetle data, tables and spreadsheet related to bark beetle research from the Logan Forestry Sciences Laboratory.




Photo Credit: Economic Aspects of Forest Management on Public Lands Program Website

Resource Management & Use

ArcHSI (Arc Habitat Suitability Index), a geographical information system (GIS) model that estimates the ability of an area to meet the food and cover requirements of an animal species, from the Center for Great Plains Ecosystem Research group at the Rapid City Forestry Sciences Laboratory.


PLATA, a software application for doing economic analysis of a planning project, from the Economic Aspects of Forest Management on Public Lands group at the Missoula Forestry Sciences Laboratory.



MAGIS, a software spatial decision support system for scheduling a variety of vegetation treatments and road-related activities including construction, reconstruction, and obliteration. It is also available in an EXPRESS version, structured primarily as a timber harvest-road access tool. Available from the Economic Aspects of Forest Management on Public Lands group at the Missoula Forestry Sciences Laboratory.



SIMPPLLE, a software application designed to simulate patterns and processes at landscape scales from the Ecology and Management of Northern Rocky Mountain Forests group at the Missoula and Bozeman Forestry Sciences Laboratories.


  WATSED, a computer model to assess cumulative watershed effects of past, present, and future management activities, from the Economic Aspects of Forest Management on Public Lands group at the Missoula Forestry Sciences Laboratory.




River Bathymetry Toolkit Icon

Water & Air

River Bathymetry Toolkit (RBT)

Traditional techniques for describing and understanding aquatic physical habitat in streams have focused on manual measurements of channel topography. New remote sensing techniques, such as airborne water-penetrating Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and boat-mounted acoustic sensors can produce highly accurate Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) with continuous coverage of long segments of channels and stream networks. The US Forest Service and ESSA Technologies have developed a suite of GIS tools, the River Bathymetry Toolkit (RBT), for processing high resolution DEMs of channels. Our goal is to characterize in-stream and floodplain geomorphology to support aquatic habitat analyses and numerical models of flow and sediment transport. The (RBT) is available for free and is under active development.

-River Bathymetry Toolkit (RBT)



Stream Temperature Modeling and Monitoring

Designed to assist users to better organize and understand their temperature data as it pertains to broad-scale aquatic habitat issues, the stream temperature modeling and monitoring website contains information on collecting, processing, and archiving stream temperature data. Application of these data are highlighted in three research projects that provide a range of modeling alternatives and predictive accuracy. Each project has links to: primary publications; detailed methods and metadata; GIS layers; project data;

Stream Temperature Readings in Big Deer Creek, Idaho 2002

maps; and other related materials. These sites provide more information than is traditionally available in a journal article so that the modeling approaches and results may easily be replicated.


See also: NorWeST Regional Database and Modeled Stream Temperature Website



Modeling Software, for erosion, fire effects, slope stability and climate, from the Soil and Water Engineering group at the Moscow Forestry Sciences Laboratory. See their software page.




Western US Stream Flow Metric Dataset - A dataset of modeled flow metrics for streams in major river basins of the Western US for historical and future climate change scenarios.




Research Subject Areas




bulletAquatic Ecology

bulletAtmospheric Sciences


bulletClimate Change


bulletFire & Fuels




bulletPlant Physiology

bulletSediment & Erosion

bulletSpatial Analysis

bulletWater & Watershed Processes





Sediment Transport data


NorWeST Stream Temperature- Regional Database and Model


Upper Verde River: Review of Stream-Riparian Monitoring Efforts Conducted by the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station


Western US Stream Flow Metric Dataset


Stream Temperature Modeling and Monitoring Website


River Bathymetry Toolkit (RBT)



Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP)


Geomorphic Road Assessment and Inventory Package (GRAIP)

Rocky Mountain Research Station - Air, Water and Aquatic Environments Sciences Program
Last Modified:  Friday, 04 April 2014 at 14:57:55 CDT 4 April, 2014

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.