USDA Forest Service

Bitterroot Ecosystem Management Research Project

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Forestry Sciences Lab
800 E. Beckwith Ave
Missoula, Montana 59801

(406) 542-4150

United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

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2007 Landscape Progress Reports

Progress Reports      Publications and Papers

Map depicting derivation of wetness index. Click link for enlarged version of graphic.


At the end of each fiscal year, recipients of Bitterroot Ecosystem Management Research Project (BEMRP) funding submit Progress Reports describing the status of their respective studies. Below is a list of landscape level studies underway with links to the actual Progress Reports.

Study Title: Quantity, Cost, and Carbon Balance Associated with Utilization of Biomass from Fuel and Forest Health Restoration Treatments in the Bitterroot Valley

Study Coordinator: Greg Jones, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Forestry Sciences Lab

Research Principals: Greg Jones and Dave Calkin, Rocky Mountain Research Station - Human Dimensions Program, Missoula, MT; Dan Loeffler, University of Montana, College for Forestry and Conservation, Missoula, MT

Description: Disposal of sub-merchantable material associated with forest health and fuel reduction treatments can pose significant economic costs. There also are issues with limited burning windows and smoke. At the same time there is an opportunity to more fully utilize this biomass for energy production. It can be less costly to utilize this currently sub-merchantable biomass for energy production than dispose of it on site, depending on the treatment location and location of utilization facilities. However, is using this woody biomass for energy desirable from air quality and green house gas points of view? We analyzed two alternatives in the Bitterroot Valley, Montana: 1) utilize this woody biomass for energy (accounting for the diesel emissions associated with collecting, chipping, and hauling biomass), and 2) dispose of this woody biomass on the treatment site by pile burning and use either natural gas or fuel oil to produce the equivalent useable energy of woody biomass. We found that relative to the option of disposing of the woody biomass by onsite pile burning and using fossil fuels for energy, the woody biomass for energy option reduced carbon dioxide emissions about 50%, particulate matter less than 10 microns in size (PM-10) about 75%, and methane, a short-lived but very harmful component of greenhouse gases, by 90%. Diesel emissions associated with biomass for energy use account for less than 5% of the emissions in the woody biomass energy option.

Study Title: Trapper Bunkhouse Landscape Project

Study Coordinators: Greg Jones, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Forestry Sciences Lab; Kevin Hyde, METI

Research Principals: Greg Jones and Janet Sullivan, Rocky Mountain Research Station - Human Dimensions Program, Missoula, MT; Kevin Hyde, METI Contractor with Rocky Mountain Research Station, Missoula, MT; Rick Stratton, SEM Contractor with Rocky Mountain Research Station; Jimmie Chew, Rocky Mountain Research Station-Forests and Woodlands Ecosystems Science Program, Missoula, MT

Description: Forest managers face many questions when managing for the role of fire in forests of the Northern Rockies: What natural resource and private values may be at risk from catastrophic fires occurring in areas where frequent, low-intensity fire was historically the norm? How are the risks changed by treatments designed to reduce fuel and restore forest health? What mosaic of treatments is most effective at reducing risk while having acceptable resource impacts? What are the trade-offs over time between costs and effects of treatments compared to possible costs and effects if no treatments are done and severe wildland fires occur?

This study is testing the integration of information from three types of spatial landscape models to address these and other related questions. The study focuses on the 57,800-acre area within the Darby Ranger District of the Bitterroot National Forest bounded on the north by Bunkhouse Creek and on the south by Trapper Creek. The models were used to help identify potential treatment areas, provide economic analyses of the most efficient treatment scheduling, and MAGIS has been run to do analysis in support of alternative comparison, and to respond to public commentary and questions about the scope of economic support that could be derived from the project area.

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