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Science Spotlights

Simulated fire behavior during the green, red, and gray stages of a mountain pine beetle outbreak under various levels of tree mortality (20%, 58%, and 100% mortality) and low wind speeds.
This study explored the impact of beetle-induced mortality and wind speed on fire behavior during the pre-outbreak (“green stage”), immediately post-mortality when dead needles remain on trees (“red stage”), and when needles drop to the ground (“gray stage”) in southwestern ponderosa pine forests.
2007 Castle Rock Fire in Ketchum, ID (c) Kari Greer/NIFC
The length of the fire weather season is one of many factors that must be understood to ensure that wildfires are effectively managed to promote healthy ecosystems while minimizing negative socio-economic impacts.
Dalmatian toadflax is an aggressive invader of western rangelands. Photo by: Steve Dewey, Utah State University,
Rocky Mountain Research Station scientists are investigating how climate change, namely elevated levels of CO2, might impact invasive species and classical biological control of weeds.
A severely degraded forest in the dry tropical forest zone of Ghana (photo by John Stanturg, USFS).
The estimated billion acres globally of degraded forests presents a formidable challenge to scientists, managers, and policymakers. To provide managers with an understanding of the many factors to be considered in planning and undertaking forest restoration, Forest Service scientists synthesized information on contemporary approaches to forest restoration, resulting in two publications and an expert workshop.
RNGR specialists provide necessary on-site support to nursery managers to improve production of native plants for reforestation and restoration.
The Reforestation, Nurseries, and Genetic Resources (RNGR) Team, established through a Forest Service memorandum of understanding, is tasked with transferring information on native plants, including their collection, propagation, and deployment. One issue the team addresses is ensuring that nursery managers, reforestation and restoration specialists, and others in related fields receive timely information.
Tribe members attending a native plant nursery planning workshop.
The Forest Service’s Reforestation, Nurseries, and Genetic Resources Team provides an important forum for Native American tribes to network regarding native plant production and restoration. Team leaders have worked with nearly 80 tribes and one-on-one with more than 500 tribal members across the United States and Canada, teaching them how best to propagate culturally significant plants for their own uses.
Great Basin Native Plant Project Logo
Storm near Elko, Nevada
Fresh water begins as precipitation falling on the land and fresh waters. Water naturally evaporates from the land or vegetation, percolates down to groundwater aquifers, or flows toward the sea via rivers and streams. Water that evaporates is unavailable for use until it falls again elsewhere as precipitation. What remains is available for use by humans and other species and in a broad sense is our fresh water supply.
Simulations show where fires would have spread and reveal hidden consequences of suppression.
Researchers have investigated the true costs of suppressing wildfires and found the results to have broad national applicability. These methods are being evaluated in the Rocky Mountains and the Southwest.
Flowers of sticky whiteleaf manzanita, one of many plant species reviewed by FEIS scientists (photo by George W. Hartwell).
Thirty years ago, Rocky Mountain Research Station scientist William (Bill) Fischer proposed a highly innovative computer system to provide managers with information about the effects of prescribed fire. Technology has changed radically since Fischer originally envisioned a computer program to provide fire effects information electronically. The FEIS user interface now enables readers to search using many criteria, including maps, and it connects...