WWETAC Projects Abstracts

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Wildfire risk framework for strategic planning

E-MAIL CONTACT: Alan Ager, aager[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Alan A. Ager, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center, Prineville, OR 97754

COLLABORATOR: Mark Finney, Rocky Mountain Research Station Sue Stewart, Washington Office Fire and Aviation Management.

SUMMARY: The objectives of this project are to incorporate large-fire spread and intensity into a quantitative risk framework, and apply the framework on fire-prone federally managed lands in central Oregon to test several hypotheses regarding fire spread and effects on federal land management strategies. Specifically, we hypothesize that wildfire risk to highly valued resources within forest reserves (e.g., riparian buffers, wildlife corridors, visual retention areas, research natural areas) is primarily a function of large-fire behavior in the surrounding meso-landscape. Thus the ongoing debate about the benefits of managing reserves and impacts of fuel treatment on species of concern does not consider the proper scale of wildfire risk. This project also will test the application of probabilistic risk analysis to quantify wildfire threats to various resources of concern, including desired future forest conditions as described by seral stages and structure. We will develop and apply loss functions for specific forest resource values and couple these functions with burn probability outputs to quantify probabilistic loss under a range of wildfire scenarios. Finally, we will test a range of spatially explicit fuel treatment scenarios to understand how spatial patterns of management activities affect wildfire losses to specific forest reserve systems on national forest lands.


Mapping forest composition and structure in the Pacific Coast States with gradient nearest neighbor imputation (GNN)

E-MAIL CONTACT: Janet Ohmann, johmann[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Janet L. Ohmann, PNW Research Station, USDA Forest Service and the LEMMA Team (Landscape Ecology, Modeling, Mapping, and Analysis) (http://www.fsl.orst.edu/lemma)

COLLABORATORS: Western Wildlands Environmental Threats Assessment Center, USFS; Forest Science Department, Oregon State University (OSU); Interagency Mapping and Assessment Project (IMAP), USFS, Oregon Department of Forestry, Bureau of Land Management (BLM); Northwest Forest Plan Effectiveness Monitoring, USFS and BLM; Remote Sensing Applications Center, USFS; Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA), USFS; Institute of Natural Resources, OSU

SUMMARY: Information about the distribution and characteristics of forest vegetation and land cover is fundamental to a wide array of issues related to sustainable ecosystem management. Vegetation maps are needed to assess current landscape conditions of wildlife habitats and other biodiversity indicators, timber supply, carbon budgets, and fuel conditions and fire risk, to name a few. The GNN method for predictive vegetation mapping was conceived as a way to provide highly detailed spatial data on forest vegetation that is needed to support a wide variety of applications in research, landscape analysis, and natural resource and conservation planning at midscales. GNN integrates plot and spatial geographic information system (GIS) data, including satellite imagery, to map detailed attributes of forest composition and structure across large, multiownership regions. The primary goal of this project is to develop detailed maps of forest composition and structure for Oregon and Washington using GNN. In addition, we are investigating related research questions on statistical methods for spatial prediction, environmental and disturbance factors influencing landscape patterns and dynamics, and scaling and linking of vegetation maps to models of stand and landscape dynamics for regional analysis.
We are using GNN to map forest and woodland vegetation of all ownerships across Oregon and Washington. GNN is one kind of "imputation" mapping, as are KNN and MSN, and are fundamentally different from other mapping methods. The main steps are: (1) develop a statistical model, using direct gradient analysis, that predicts vegetation response variables from environmental and spectral (Landsat imagery) predictor variables; (2) use the gradient model to identify the "nearest-neighbor" plot for each map unit (pixel), and assign the plot’s vegetation data to the pixel. The end result is a map wherein each pixel has a unique plot number assigned to it, along with all of its tree and understory vegetation measurements and summary variables. For plot data, we rely mostly on the regional forest inventory (FIA and CVS) and Ecology programs. We use over 50 GIS layers that describe climate, topography, solar radiation, parent material, disturbance history, and ownership, as well as Landsat bands and transformations. The date of any given GNN map is the year of Landsat imagery used in its development. Maps of different dates can be generated by applying the model to new imagery. GNN models can be "tuned" to address different map objectives by modifying the input data and statistical model. We currently are producing two GNN map products for each ecoregion: one emphasizing species composition and one emphasizing a combination of species and forest structure. Accuracy assessment is an integral part of GNN. The maps are evaluated using a variety of methods, including cross-validation, at both local and regional scales. The project began in October 2005, with work being organized around ecoregions. Draft GNN maps have been released for all Oregon ecoregions as of June 2007, with final versions expected in December 2007. Given funding, western Washington is planned to be completed by December 2008. See "modeling regions and schedule" at http://www.fsl.orst.edu/lemma/gnnpac/ for more information.

In general, GNN map accuracy is excellent at the regional level and good to poor at the local scale, depending on vegetation attribute and location. The maps accurately represent aerial proportions of different forest conditions across large regions, as well as the regional range of variability in vegetation attributes. At the local scale, the covariance structure of all vegetation components within a map unit is maintained, avoiding unrealistic co-occurrences of species and forest structures. However, local accuracy is limited by the inherent capabilities of the Landsat sensor. Canopy measures are mapped more accurately than subcanopy features, and accuracy tends to be better in west-side than in east-side forests. Although we lack independent data for accuracy assessment at the scale of small landscapes, we think the GNN data are reliable down to the level of 5th- and 6th-field hydrologic units.


Modeling wildfire risk to spotted owl habitat in central Oregon, USA

E-MAIL CONTACT: Alan Ager, aager[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Alan A. Ager, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center, Prineville, OR 97754

COLLABORATORS: Mark Finney, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Missoula MT, Helen Maffei, Deschutes National Forest, Bend, OR

SUMMARY: Late-successional forest reserves in the dry forests of the Pacific Northwest provide habitat to a number of terrestrial and aquatic species that contribute to the region’s ecological diversity, including the endangered northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis). Although concern over old-growth forest ecosystems and spotted owl habitat largely arose from commercial timber harvest, managers and the public are increasingly concerned about old-growth forest and owl habitat loss from severe wildfire and other disturbances. Forest managers are actively engaged in mitigation projects such as fuel reduction using mechanical thinning and prescribed fire to reduce potential impacts from natural disturbances within late-successional reserves and maintain spotted owl habitat. These efforts could benefit from formal risk analyses to quantify wildfire risks and tradeoffs among different treatment strategies. In this research, we describe the use of a quantitative, probabilistic wildfire risk assessment methodology that defines risk as expected loss of owl habitat. Specifically, risk is calculated as the product of (1) the probability of a fire burning at a specific intensity and location, and (2) the resulting change in habitat condition. We analyzed the expected loss of spotted owl habitat on a 65,823-ha study area in central Oregon for six fuel reduction scenarios that varied in intensity. Burn probabilities were estimated by simulating 1,000 randomly ignited wildfires. A habitat loss function was developed for each stand using a forest stand wildfire simulator. Results showed a nonlinear response in expected value with increasing treatment area. Fuel treatments on a relatively minor percentage of the landscape (20 percent) resulted in a 50 percent decrease in expected loss of owl habitat. Our modeling approach can be applied to many other forest values, and can also include the benefits of wildfire at species locations and intensities. The methodology we used advances the application of quantitative and probabilistic risk assessment to wildfire risk management and fuel treatment planning.


Rapid threat assessment of genetically modified plants in wildland ecosystems

E-MAIL CONTACT: David Harry, david.harry[at]oregonstate.edu

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: David Harry, Outreach in Biotechnology Program, Oregon State University, Steven Strauss, Department of Forest Science, Oregon State University, and Richard Cronn, Pacific Northwest Forest Experiment Station, USDA Forest Service, Corvallis (http://wwwdata.forestry.oregonstate.edu/orb/)

SUMMARY: Since their initial release just over 10 years ago, use of genetically modified (GM) crops, developed using recombinant DNA methods, has increased dramatically for major commodity crops such as soy beans, cotton, canola, and corn. Various concerns have been raised involving issues of human safety, ecosystem functions, and economic or political impacts. A possible consequence of such releases is longer term ecological impacts by establishment of plants (as feral escapes), or by movement of transgenes into weedy or native relatives by gene flow and interbreeding. To date, opportunities for long-term establishment of transgenes outside of agroecosystems has been relatively limited, at least in in the United States. and Canada. Most GM crops (e.g., corn, soybeans) do not persist outside of cultivation, and gene flow is inhibited because GM crops have few relatives here. The escape of creeping bentgrass into the Crooked River National Grassland is a poignant example. Anticipating continued introductions and greater diversity of GM plants, we assume that the potential for inadvertent release of transgenes into wildland ecosystems will likewise increase. Wildland managers need to better understand how current policies and management practices could be affected by such releases. To what extent are wildland managers and planners anticipating the likelihood and consequence of such releases? We will conduct a rapid threat assessment (RTA) to examine potential ecological and socioeconomic impacts on wildland ecosystems resulting from an inadvertent release of genetically modified plants or transgenes. The RTA will be based upon plant groups and species with GM representatives already in the regulatory pipeline, emphasizing those further along the path to deregulation. Examples will include turf and forage grasses, trees, and other groups as appropriate (e.g., Compositae). Because of their mating system and abundance of feral or native relatives in wildland ecosystems, we feel these groups represent the most likely source of potential threats in the near term (e.g., Wipff 2002, Whitney et al. 2006, Williams 2005), and hence drive policy and regulatory decisions. The RTA will focus “on analysis of the process, stress, organism, or activity that has the potential to do harm,” (RTA framework document), which for GM plants will entail identifying GM products more likely to affect wildland ecosystems, assessing biological processes and mechanisms by which such products could directly affect wildland ecosystems, and, to the extent possible, will also assessing cascading impacts downward through the biosocial system.


Spatial modeling of invasive plant spread on roads and river networks in Alaska

E-MAIL CONTACT: Tricia Wurtz, twurtz[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Tricia L. Wurtz, PNW Research Station, USDA Forest Service

COLLABORATORS: Matt J. Macander, ABR, Inc. Fairbanks, Alaska; Brian Hay and Norm Harris, University of Alaska Fairbanks

SUMMARY: Most of Alaska’s invasive plants are found only along the state's limited road system, and Melilotus alba is one of the most widely distributed invasives in the state. Recently, Melilotus has been found to have moved from roadsides to the floodplains of at least three glacial rivers (fig. 1). In one of these cases, Melilotus has become a major component of the floodplain vegetation of the lower Stikine River in southeast Alaska, within the Stikine-LeConte Wilderness. The presence of Melilotus on the lower Stikine River points out the vulnerability of roadless public lands in Alaska to invaders dispersing via linked road-and-river networks. Because more and more noxious species are turning up in Alaska each year, and because they are also spreading along the roadsides, it is likely that other species will follow the roads-to-rivers route that Melilotus has taken. The objective of this project is to develop a simulation model of the potential spread of an invasive plant along roads and river networks in Alaska. The model will allow us to predict the rate of spread, and the number of years until an invasive plant will reach different roadless public conservation units. It will identify certain road-river interfaces and crossings as critical control points for certain public lands conservation units. This information will provide a means of prioritizing and evaluating the effectiveness of different management responses to invasive species in Alaska. The model will highlight which public lands are most vulnerable to invasion via linked road and river networks, as well as showing which lands are least vulnerable. We will be able to use the model to test hypotheses concerning climate change and changing flood regimes, for a variety of management actions and for a variety of invasive species. Initial model development will focus on a 10,000-km2 study area (100 km by 100 km) comprising the rivers and roads upstream of the Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), north of Fairbanks. This area is bounded on the east by the Dalton Highway, and on the west by the western boundary of the wildlife refuge. Kanuti NWR is entirely located in national hydrography data set subregion 1904, and although it has no direct road access, there are 13 major and 112 minor crossings upstream of the refuge, all on the Dalton Highway. When the model is functioning properly on this relatively small test area, we’ll expand it to larger extents, with the goal of scaling the model up to the full extent of interior and south-central Alaska.


Rapid threat assessment of climate change effects on western bark beetles

E-MAIL CONTACT: Barbara Bentz, bbentz[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Barbara Bentz, Western Bark Beetle Research Group and RMRS

COLLABORATORS: C. Fettig and S. Seybold, Western Bark Beetle Research Group and PSW;
M. Hansen, A. Lynch, and J. Negron, Western Bark Beetle Research Group and RMRS; J.L. Hayes, R. Kelsey and J. Lundquist, Western Bark Beetle Research Group and PNW; J. Hicke, University of Idaho; J. Powell, Utah State University; J. Regniere, Canadian Forest Service

SUMMARY: In this rapid threat assessment, we will synthesize current state of knowledge, identify knowledge gaps, and develop likely future scenarios for climate change effects on western bark beetles using case studies of widely distributed species such as mountain pine beetle and narrowly distributed species such as roundheaded beetle


Climate change and forest diseases in the West—an information synthesis

E-MAIL CONTACT: Susan Frankel, sfrankel[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Susan Frankel, Pacific Southwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service

SUMMARY: This project will compile literature and synthesize known information concerning climate, climate change, and forest diseases in the Western United States. For the Western States, the document will summarize what is known about climate’s influence (temperature and moisture primarily) on forest fungi, bacteria, nematodes, other microbes, and abiotic damage agents. The objectives are to (1) Compile and synthesize information on climate and forest disease relationships; (2) provide science-based forest disease information for climate change papers and presentations; (3) Build collaboration between forest pathologists working on climate change; (4) determine future needs for research, management, and extension to address climate change and forest diseases; and (5) determine and articulate risks to forest health from diseases under various climate change scenarios (deferred to 2008). In this effort, the following concepts will be explored for their influence on forest pathogens: (1) phenological change (such as movement west of spruce budworm); (2) habitat changes–increased tree mortality in a specific tree size and species, favoring decay organisms; (3) climate changes that favor a disease agent (i.e., El Niño and Phytophthora ramorum); (4) warmer temperatures eliminating freezing conditions or snow pack (i.e., Alaska yellow-cedar decline); and (5) weather extremes and pathogens–hurricane winds moving the citrus canker pathogen


Regional variation in North American fungal associates of Dendroctonus valens

E-MAIL CONTACT: Nancy Gillette, ngillette@fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Nancy E. Gillette, PSW Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Berkeley, CA

SUMMARY: Dendroctonus valens was introduced from North America to Asia and has become well established there. It has caused unprecedented losses of Pinus tabuliformis in China, and appears to attack all pine hosts with which it comes into contact there. It is expected to expand its range across Eurasia, and may well acquire new fungal associates, especially in the genus Ophiostoma and related imperfect genera such as Leptographium. Some of these fungal associates may be more virulent toward North American pines than indigenous fungi, especially as our native pines will not have evolved defenses against these exotic fungi. Forest health specialists in the United States and Canada are concerned about the risk of reintroduction of D. valens from Asia carrying new, exotic fungal associates. Very little is known about either the exotic or indigenous fungi, so it is difficult to identify new fungal introductions. The goal of this project is to identify and characterize the indigenous fungal associates of D. valens so that it will be possible to recognize new introductions. A parallel study is underway in China that is characterizing species of Asian Ophiostoma and related imperfect genera isolated from D. valens. The study objectives and goals include (1) collect, isolate, and culture fungal associates across the range of D. valens in North America; (2) Provide cultures of these fungi for molecular taxonomic work and quarantine cross-inoculations to FABI (Wingfield and Min), CAS (Sun), U. Montana (Six), collaborators; (3) Describe existing geographical variation in fungal associates of D. valens based on both molecular and morphological characters.


Pathways and risk assessment of emerald ash borer movement into and within the Western United States

E-MAIL CONTACT: William Jacobi, william.jacobi[at]colostate.edu

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: William R. Jacobi, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO

SUMMARY: The emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) is an exotic wood boring insect that is native to China, Korea, Japan, Mongolia, and the far east of Russia. The insect was introduced most likely on wood packing material to the Detroit, Michigan area in the early 1990s. The insect had been killing trees in the Detroit area by 1992 but were not noticed until 2002. The insect has since spread by nursery stock, logs, firewood and naturally to Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and Ontario Canada and has been found surviving in ½-inch-diameter stem/branch wood (Federal Register 2007). The overarching goal is to determine if minimally processed wood products including firewood are a credible risk for moving exotic tree insects and diseases.


Western riparian threats assessment

E-MAIL CONTACT: David Theobald, davet[at]warnercnr.colostate.edu

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: David M. Theobald, Warner College of Natural Resources, Colorado State University, John Norman, David Merritt, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Streams Systems Technology Center, USDA forest Service, Dan Neary, Rocky Mountain Research Station, USDA forest Service, Flagstaff, AZ

SUMMARY: The purpose of this project is to develop a scientifically sound approach to assess threats to fluvial riparian areas in the western United States. Our first objective is to review, analyze, and develop methods to characterize ecological condition of riparian areas. This includes:

  • Review and analyze existing approaches to mapping threats to ecological conditions.
  • Coordinate and incorporate expertise and feedback from riparian ecologists from government and nongovernment agencies.
  • Acquire broad-scale GIS data on biophysical characteristics, including ecoregions, hydrology, DEMs (30 m), land use/cover (NLCD), housing density (SERGoM, Census data), etc.

Our second objective is to evaluate ecological condition riparian areas by watersheds, which includes:

  • Develop framework for organizing threats in watersheds.
  • Identify surrogates for threats for GIS data.
  • Develop model of relationship between threat and response.

Our third and final objective is to develop assessment and ranking of threats by 5th or 6th code watersheds. This will include:

  • Compute local condition for each reach catchment area.
  • Compute basin-area-weighted accumulation.
  • Summarize ecological condition by 5th or 6th code.
  • Generate maps depicting relative degree of threat for western United States.


GMWest: a risk assessment system for gypsy moth introductions in the Pacific Northwest

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Jesse A. Logan, EnviroWise Design, Emigrant, MT

COLLABORATORS: Wally Macfarlane, GEO/Graphics, Inc., Logan, UT; Steve Munson, USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Region Forest Health Protection

SUMMARY: Multiple introductions of gypsy moth life stages occur every year throughout the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Many of these introductions are detected early, and decisions are required to develop a response to detected introductions. The evaluation of risk for gypsy moth establishment in the Pacific Northwest poses significant challenges for both ecological and sociological reasons. The difficulties in determining risk are confounded by climate variation and potential long-term climate warming. In response to improving gypsy moth risk assessment analysis, Forest Service Forest Health Protection funded a special technology development project to create an improved risk assessment system. The risk assessment system is called GMWest. GMWest was specifically developed to evaluate the risk of establishment for detected gypsy moth introductions in the state of Utah, although from the beginning we envisioned a risk assessment system that would be applicable to all portions of the Western United States. System development first required acquiring a variety of databases regarding landscape features, vegetation, and weather/climate variables. Next, "probability of establishment" maps were produced using weather and climate variables from the database as input to a validated gypsy moth phenology model. A "hazard of establishment" map layer was produced that could be combined using GIS with other layers in the database (host distribution, land use, demographic, topographic, and transportation) to produce a "risk of establishment" map. Since GMWest produces georeferenced data layers that are combined and manipulated by a GIS, the system is extremely flexible and adaptable. This project is adapting the GMWest model to ecological conditions and changing climates in the Pacific Northwest and is, to the extent possible, adding Asian gypsy moth to the modeling system.


INLAS relative risk model

E-MAIL CONTACT: wayne.landis [at] wwu.edu

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Wayne G. Landis, April J. Markiewicz, and Suzanne Anderson, Institute of Environmental Toxicology, Huxley College of the Environment, Western Washington University

SUMMARY: The relative risk model (RRM) method is used to assess and prioritize risks by ranking and filtering the available data on the habitats, sources of stressors, and effects of stressors on the assessment endpoints in the region. It is a semi-quantitative means of combining the actions of multiple stressors on multiple assessment endpoints residing in a complex and dynamic ecosystem. In brief, sources and habitats are identified throughout the study area and grouped into risk regions or subareas. They are then assigned numerical ranks in relation to their importance in each region and then the ranks are combined to predict relative levels of risk. The number of possible risk combinations resulting from this approach depends on the number of sources of stressors and habitats identified in each risk region. Exposure and effect filters are then used to evaluate the data and determine whether there is a low, medium, or high probability of an exposure (and therefore an effect) occurring. For example, if two source types and two habitat types are identified, then there are four possible combinations that can lead to a specific type of impact. If there are two different impacts already in evidence, then eight possible combinations exist. Each identified combination therefore establishes a pathway of probable risk when exposure links the source and habitat to an effect. When a source generates stressors that affect habitats important to and used by the assessment endpoint(s), the ecological risk is high. When the pathway connection is indirect, resulting in minimal interaction, the risk is lower. When there is no complete pathway, no risk exists. In this project the RRM method was applied to the INLAS study area. Of the 10 steps in the RRM method, 7 have been implemented to date, with the 8th currently being conducted. Those steps were as follows: (1) worked with the USFS and other stakeholders to list the management goals for the study area and the location of these activities, (2) collected the data for the region and consolidated it in a GIS format, (3) made a map of the study area applicable to a regional-scale ecological risk assessment, (4) divided the map into risk regions, (5) made a conceptual model to reveal pathways of potential risk, as well as identify data gaps, (6) decided on a ranking scheme based on the data obtained, and (7) calculated the relative risks by combining rank scores and then screening the scores using exposure and effect filters to identify those ecological resources at highest risk to be impacted, their geographic location, the stressor contributing the highest risk, and identifying the impact that poses the highest risk to the valued ecological resources.


Interaction of private and public forest fire risk management decisions

E-MAIL CONTACTS: gwen.busby[at]oregonstate.edu, hj.albers[at]oregonstate.edu, claire.montgomery[at]oregonstate.edu

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Gwenlyn M. Busby, Heidi J. Albers, and Claire A. Montgomery, Department of Forest Resources, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331

SUMMARY: The wildfires that blaze across the Western United States each year burn millions of acres, threaten homes and property, and leave dense, over-stocked forests blackened and charred. These fires continue to burn in spite of the millions of dollars spent every year on fire suppression. The regulatory reaction to these destructive wildfires was the congressionally approved 2003 Healthy Forest Restoration Act, which requires federal agencies to focus fire protection in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) where homes and private property are at the greatest risk of wildfire damage. More recently, and in an effort to control wildfire protection costs, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has argued that communities and landowners, not the federal government, should be responsible for managing wildfire risk on private land. These policy debates, however, have continued largely uninformed by economic analysis. Existing models are unable to adequately address wildfire risk because of their lack of a spatially explicit, dynamic framework that incorporates patterns of landownership and the strategic interaction of private landowners and public land managers. Because wildfire spreads across the landscape without regard for property boundaries, the risk an individual faces is a function of forest management decisions made both by the individual owner and neighboring landowners. Each landowner considers the state of neighboring forests when making decisions about buying insurance and undertaking wildfire-risk-mitigating activities (such as using fire-resistant building materials, removing fuel from forests, and establishing no-tree areas around homes). In this paper we examine how the spatial configuration of forest ownership, liability rules, and the availability of private insurance influence the risk-mitigating behavior of the public forest land manager and the private forest land owner over time. We also determine whether or not the predicted equilibrium outcomes are socially optimal and, if not, what liability rules or regulations would lead to socially optimal outcomes.


Detection, Monitoring, and Mapping of Sudden Oak Death Using Hyperspectral Imagery

E-MAIL CONTACT: jfridgen[at]iftd.org

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Jon Fridgen, Institute for Technology Development, Savoy, IL

COLLABORATORS: Alan Kanaskie, Forest Pathologist, Oregon Dept. of Forestry, Salem, OR; Chris Lee, Sudden Oak Death Program Coordinator, University of California Cooperative Extension Eureka, CA; Rodney McKellip, Project Integration Office, NASA-Stennis Space Center

SUMMARY: The project will directly support the activities associated with the development and validation of a nationwide forest early warning system. Currently found only in Western States, sudden oak death (SOD) syndrome poses a significant threat to U.S. forests. In Oregon, detection of SOD prior to the development of visual symptoms in individual tan-oak trees will allow for a more rapid response in executing quarantine measures (i.e., destroying the infected trees). In this setting, the opportunity to destroy infected trees earlier than would be possible using only visible symptoms (i.e., bleeding cankers, canker margins) increases the likelihood of quarantine effectiveness. In California, these capabilities are also important, but in a spatial context to aid perimeter mapping of SOD extent and distribution.


Prescribed fire regime and grazing effects on understory vegetation and exotic invasive plants

E-MAIL CONTACT: bkerns[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Becky K. Kerns, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center, Prineville, OR

COLLABORATOR: Walt Thies, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Corvallis, OR

SUMMARY: Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Dougl. ex Laws.) is a major forest type in western North America and a key focus of prescribed fire and fuel reduction treatments. However, prescribed fires now interact with present environmental conditions that are very different than historical conditions. Fire is being returned to landscapes where exotic plants are often present and exotic livestock graze. Tree densities and fuel loading are typically excessive, native species may have tenuous or declining populations, and native seed banks may be lacking. In addition, prescribed fires may be applied temporally outside the historical range of variability. Because species differ in the timing of peak sensitivity and response to burning, vegetation patterns in response to fire can differ by season of burn. We hypothesize that grazing will detrimentally impact understory abundance in response to the fires, but that affect would be linked to species life history characteristics and known grazing preferences. We also expect major exotic species in the study area, Bromus tectorum, (downy cheatgrass) to increase following the fires, and that exotics in general would be less abundant in areas excluded from grazing. In addition to hypothesis testing, we explore plant community patterns in relation to season and severity of prescribed fire, grazing, forest structure, substrate, and environmental heterogeneity.


Fuel reduction and weed management

E-MAIL CONTACT: bkerns[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Becky K. Kerns, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center, Prineville, OR

COLLABORATORS: Paul Doescher, Forest Resources, Oregon State University; Gabrielle Snider, Forest Resources, Oregon State University.

SUMMARY: Efforts to reduce severe wildfire risk across the West by thinning and prescribed burning are expected to produce long-term benefits. However, restoration treatments may also introduce or spread exotic noxious weed species (hereinafter weeds) into forest ecosystems. The potential for weed problems is greater at the wildland-urban interface (WUI), where diverse source propagules are abundant. It is a significant challenge for land managers to apply fuel reduction treatments in a manner that does not exacerbate existing weed and associated resource problems. We will compare herbicide and native seeding management options for controlling wee establishment and spread within the Liberty WUI Fuel Reduction Project. The study area is located along the eastern slopes of the Cascades on the Cle Elum Ranger District of the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests. Planned fuel reduction activities will be conducted in an area that has been already been invaded by noxious weeds such as diffuse and meadow knapweed (Centaurea diffusa, Centaurea pratensis). We will compare the efficacy and cost effectiveness of herbicide, hot foam, and native seeding experimental treatments to suppress and control weeds prior to and after fuel reduction activities and to enhance native plant diversity and community resilience. We will also examine the effect of fuel reduction activities and weed suppression treatments on plant community structure.


Probabilistic risk models for multiple disturbances: an example of forest insects and wildfires

E-MAIL CONTACT: hpreisler[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Haiganoush K. Preisler, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Albany, CA: Alan A. Ager, Pacific Northwest Research Station, WWETAC, Prineville, OR; Jane L. Hayes, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, La Grande, OR

SUMMARY: Building probabilistic risk models for highly random forest disturbances like wildfire and forest insect outbreaks is a challenging problem. Modeling the interactions among natural disturbances is even more difficult. In the case of wildfire and forest insects, we looked at the probability of a large fire given an insect outbreak, and also the incidence of insect outbreaks following wildfire. We developed and used a probabilistic model framework for estimating (1) the probability that a wildfire, at a given location and time, reaches a given size class under the conditions at the site including history of insect outbreaks and (2) the probability of an insect infestation at a given location and year, under the conditions at the site, including history of fire occurrence and size. The study used historical data (1980–2004) on fire occurrence and forest insect outbreaks collected in Oregon and Washington, USA. Spatial data on insect activity was obtained from aerial sketch maps created by the Forest Service Forest Health Protection program. Federal wildfire data, obtained from the Desert Research Institute (DRI) included information on the date, location, and size of the fire. Average monthly temperature and Palmer drought severity indices (PDSI) were obtained from U.S. Climate Divisions (NCDC), NOAA site. The methods employed provide an objective tool for modeling complex hybrid processes and estimating associated probability maps.


Influence of bark beetles and black stain root disease on delayed mortality predictions of prescribed fire-damaged ponderosa pine in the eastern Cascades

E-MAIL CONTACT: wthies[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Walt Thies, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Corvallis OR

COLLABORATORS: Douglas Westlind, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Corvallis OR; Greg Filip, Forest Health Protection, R6 Portland, OR.

SUMMARY: The Malheur Ponderosa Pine Delayed Mortality model predicts mortality of individual trees based on fire-caused damage. Whereas other guidelines and models currently in use are based on a review of the literature or data sets collected from stands outside of the Pacific Northwest, this model for ponderosa pine (Pinus Ponderosa Dougl. ex Laws) is based on data from eastern Oregon. Based on data from three widely spaced stands not used in model development, the model appears to predict with a high degree of accuracy the probability of mortality for individual trees. However, the contribution of bark beetles to the predicted mortality has not been evaluated. This project will provide an evaluation of the newly published model to determine its usability for wildfires, extend the useful area of inference, and determine if bark beetles and black stain root disease contribute to the probability of mortality already predicted by the model, thus providing a useful tool for evaluating the impact of fire/bark beetles/black stain root disease on ponderosa pine delayed mortality.


Forests, insects, pathogens, and climate change workshop

DATES: June 26–28, 2007, Portland, Oregon

WORKSHOP LEADS: Terry Shaw and Becky Kerns (WWETAC)

WORKSHOP GOALS: Explore and advance the state of the science for the integrated analysis and prediction of climate change and native and exotic insect and pathogen processes for risk assessment across multiple spatial and temporal scales.

  • Discuss current tools used to assess and quantify climate change, insects, and pathogens, and synergistic effects on natural resources and ecosystem services at scales relevant for forest management and planning.
  • Assist WWETAC in developing a collaborative research development, and application (RD&A) strategy for risk assessment that includes the interaction of climate change and insect and pathogen threats to western wildlands.

We think it would be premature to try to develop or modify any tools or models at this workshop. Our focus will be to developing conceptual ideas that will be useful for doing risk assessments in the face of climate change. WWETAC will then use this information to develop an RD&A strategy and program of work and fund proposals using concepts and collaborations developed at the workshop. Workshop report should be available by October 15.

Evaluation of models used to predict postfire tree mortality

E-MAIL CONTACT: David Shaw, dave.shaw[at]oregonstate.edu

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: David Shaw, Stephen Fitzgerald, and Travis Woolley, Department of Forest Engineering, Resources and Management; Lisa Ganio, Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon

COLLABORATOR: Terry Shaw, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, WWETAC, Prineville, OR

SUMMARY: With increasingly large fires occurring throughout the West, there is much interest by land managers in being able to predict postfire tree mortality. Several review papers have summarized the variety of ways that researchers have sought to measure tree injury (condition) and then predict postfire mortality (see for example, Fowler, J.F.; Sieg, C.H. 2004. Post-fire mortality of ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir: a review of methods to predict tree death. USDA Gen. Tech. Report RMRS-GTR-132). However, there has never been a synthesis or comparison of the variety of models and their structure used to predict postfire tree mortality. Over 30 models have been developed to predict postfire mortality. Most of these are regression models developed from geographically local, empirical data that encompass a wide variety of fire scenarios such as summer or fall wildfires, and spring, summer, or fall prescribed burns, for example.

Objectives of the study are to summarize and review all existing postfire tree mortality models on western coniferous forests, and provide a reference-able citation for scientists on the models used to predict postfire tree mortality. We will summarize and compare characteristics of existing models developed to predict postfire tree mortality and identify groups of structurally similar models. The summaries provided to the Western Wildland Environmental Threats Assessment Center and the USFS will form an accessible review of all existing models. A second objective is to publish this review/synthesis in a peer-reviewed journal so that the information is widely available.


Evaluation of models for assessment of threats to wildlands in the Western United States from displacement by cheatgrass and pinyon-juniper woodlands

E-MAIL CONTACT: mrowland[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Mary M. Rowland and Michael J. Wisdom, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, La Grande, OR; Lowell H. Suring, USDA Forest Service, Washington Office, Stationed at Rocky Mountain Research Station, Boise, ID; Robin J. Tausch, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Reno, NV.

COLLABORATORS: Bryan Endress, Oregon State University, La Grande, OR; Jennifer Boyd, Susan Geer, Bridgett Naylor, and Catherine G. Parks, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, La Grande, OR; Mark Finco and Ken Brewer, Remote Sensing Applications Center (RSAC), Salt Lake City, UT

SUMMARY Previously, we developed models that predicted risk of displacement of native vegetation by cheatgrass and pinyon-juniper woodlands in the Great Basin Ecoregion of the Western United States. Our current objective is to build on these models by (1) refining them with the use of more recently developed land cover maps and (2) applying the revised models in the John Day and Mono Basin ecological provinces. We are evaluating the models with data from several sources, including vegetation plot data collected in the John Day province in 2007, previously collected data, and aerial photography. Following evaluation, we will revise the models and re-apply them in the two provinces. Resulting predictions of risk of displacement of native vegetation, displayed in maps and in databases, can be built upon in the future to evaluate their relation to wildland fire risk, fuels management, maintenance of sagebrush and old-growth pinyon and juniper communities, and potential effects on species of concern associated with sagebrush and woodland communities.


Development of GIS-based maps for the “top 10” invasive weeds in Crook County, Oregon

E-MAIL CONTACT: sim.ogle[at]co.crook.or.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Sim Ogle and Steve Dougill, Crook County GIS Department; Kev Alexanian, Crook County Weed Master

SUMMARY: Crook County is a rapidly developing county located in central Oregon covering 2991 square mile. The county's economy is driven by agriculture, forestry, rangeland management ,and industrial activity. The county’s geographic location, climate, geology, land uses, transportation network, and multiple off-highway recreational attractions make it susceptible to noxious weeds. Federal, state, and local agencies have all had a hand in monitoring and combating the spread of noxious weeds, but until this project a single publicly accessible point of access for this data and its spatial mapping by geographic information system (GIS) had not occurred. Additionally the five surrounding counties had not communicated on a broad scale about the noxious weed problems in their jurisdictions; therefore part of our project was so develop contacts within these counties and map any available data. The project couples GIS, remote sensing, field sampling, field validation of likely weed spread models and global positioning system (GPS) photographic techniques to continue updating the presence, absence, and spread of noxious weeds in Crook County using a statistically viable and repeatable methodology.


Western national environmental threat assessment maps

E-MAIL CONTACT: kbrewer[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Ken Brewer, USDA Forest Service (USFS) Remote Sensing Applications Center, Salt Lake City, UT

COLLABORATORS: Bill Hargrove, USFS Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center, Asheville, NC; Eric Smith, USFS Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team, Fort Collins, CO; Ron Neilson, USFS Pacific Northwest Research Station, Corvallis, OR

SUMMARY: In the past, it has been difficult to find geographically comprehensive and spatially explicit data (i.e., maps) to inform national, strategic-level decisionmaking. Today, a lack of data is usually not the problem, but rather decisionmakers are faced with the daunting task of analyzing and visualizing the many data themes in a rational manner. This project is assembling several core datasets required to assess environmental threats on a national scale. In addition, the project is researching and will propose methods for jointly analyzing these data. Multiple-criteria analysis methods need to be flexible enough to analyze more than one objective or goal in a complex spatial problem; however they assume that the problem is sufficiently precise that the goals and objectives can be defined.


Tamarisk in the Pacific Northwest: current distribution, species-environment relationships, and threat assessment.

E-MAIL CONTACT: bkerns[at]fs.fed.us 

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Becky K. Kerns, Pacific Northwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center, Prineville, OR

COLLABORATORS: Catherine Parks and Bridgett Naylor, Pacific Northwest Research Station, USDA, Forest Service, La Grande, OR; Michelle Buonopane, Pacific Northwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Corvallis, Corvallis, OR.

SUMMARY: Shrub and tree species in the genus Tamarix are considered highly invasive and among the most potentially detrimental exotic plants in the United States. Although largely associated with the arid Southwest, tamarisk is becoming the dominant shrub along rivers and streams in the interior Pacific Northwest. Yet there is presently no comprehensive map of tamarisk infestations for the region and little information regarding local species-environment relationships. Our objectives are to (1) describe the current distribution and extent of tamarisk in Oregon, Washington and Idaho, (2) examine species-environment relationships that exist in the region and explore factors important for early detection and rapid response, and (3) compare and contrast results with patterns and hypotheses from the literature, which is largely from the Southwest. We combined data acquired from multiple sources and formats (herbarium records, state and local weed experts, online data) into a single data set. Data were visually examined using 1:2,000 black and white air photos to validate point locations and collect additional information. The species-environment relationship is being modeled using an ecological niche process that does not require absence data and variables hypothesized as important for explaining the occurrence and abundance of tamarisk: climate, hydrology, disturbance, and soils. We found over 2,000 point locations for tamarisk in the three-state region, with populations concentrated in arid interior river basins. The oldest herbarium records document residential plantings of tamarisk as early as 1893 in the Columbia River gorge. The vast majority of points were found along relatively natural (86 percent), riparian (38.4 percent), and ephemeral stream (54.3 percent) areas. Strong relationships with temperature and precipitation were also noted. Tamarisk is associated with relatively warm (30-yr mean maximum temp 17.6 ±0.70 °C, mean minimum temperature 3.2 ±1.1 °C) and dry sites (mean precipitation 23.8±5.0 cm).


West-wide climate change initiative

E-MAIL CONTACT: bkerns[at]fs.fed.us  

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Connie Millar, Pacific Southwest Research Station; Linda Joyce, Rocky Mountain Research Station; Ron Neilson and Dave Peterson, Pacific Northwest Research Station.
Case Study Assessment Coordinator: Becky K. Kerns, Pacific Northwest Research Station, WWETAC, Prineville, OR

SUMMARY: The three western USFS research stations have joined together to address climate change in an interdisciplinary research effort that will be coordinated across the different sectors of the natural resource community. This effort brings together USDA Forest Service researchers to assess vulnerability of natural resources and explore potential management options to facilitate ecological and social adaptation to a changing climate. This research-management partnership will address three objectives:

  • Assessment: assess the consequences of climate change and variability on physical, biological, and socioeconomic systems at multiple scales (global, continental, regional, and province).
  • Toolbox: develop a set of tools that link potential climate change outcomes with land and community management issues to facilitate planning and decisionmaking.
  • Management options: develop a set of viable alternatives for managing natural resources in the face of climate change and other environmental stressors.

Case studies across the Western United States are being developed as part of the assessment section. Becky Kerns at WWETAC will be coordinating this aspect. These case studies will serve multiple functions and (1) be a springboard for additional work, (2) provide a template for regional and forest-scale analyses, and (3) serve as a learning activity.


Evaluating forest and rangeland development in the Western United States

E-MAIL CONTACT: jkline[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Jeffrey D. Kline, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Corvallis, OR

COLLABORATOR: Roger B. Hammer, Department of Sociology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR.

SUMMARY: Forest and rangeland development will continue to be a major factor influencing forest and range land ecosystems in the foreseeable future, both as a process of forest and rangeland loss and fragmentation, and as a factor influencing wildfire and invasive species threats. Assessing existing land use and population change data and methods, and how they might contribute to ecological assessments contributes directly to the center’s principal mission of generating and integrating knowledge and information to assess environmental threats in the Western United States. The proposed project will review concepts, data, and methods for describing and modeling forest and rangeland development in the Western United States, and demonstrate modeling and projection methods for one or more select regions. The project will address the likely feasibilities and obstacles involved in cross-disciplinary integration of forest and range land development information and projections with ecological, fire, and other models used to evaluate wildland threats.


Rapidspot workshop

E-MAIL CONTACT: aager[at]fs.fed.us 

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Alan A. Ager, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center, Prineville, OR 97754

COLLABORATOR: Sue Stewart, Washington Office Fire and Aviation Management

SUMMARY: One of the national, integrated efforts underway to address increasing wildfire threats is the Strategic Placement of Treatments (SPOTS). SPOTS approaches in the appropriate locations can provide another sound means for managing vegetation to reduce risks from fire, insect, and disease and restore forested conditions that are more desirable and sustainable for the future. The seven-step SPOTS framework to guide collaboration, alignment of efforts, and prioritization of work at the landscape scale can be aided dramatically with the use of existing data and analysis tools, including modeling software to develop and assess treatment patterns for maximum effectiveness. To increase familiarity and use of this approach, the Forest Service Washington Office and the Western Wildand Environmental Threat Assessment Center will co-sponsor a RapidSpot workshop November 6th through 8th in Portland, Oregon. The invitation-only workshop will teach core interdisciplinary team members to use a process known as RapidSpot to evaluate integrated landscape-scale treatment patterns to maximize effectiveness of treatments while meeting a variety of healthy forest objectives. The RapidSpot Workshop will be limited to one core team of three people from each Forest Service Region. Team selections will be made by the Regions, based on their evaluation of need and opportunity. Participants should represent units that would benefit from a more structured spatial analysis approach to restoration and hazardous fuel reduction planning. Priority should be given to teams from areas prone to problem fires or other forest threats, or areas where integrated restoration and fuel reduction activities are costly or are not currently meeting risk mitigation needs. During the workshop, teams will test treatment patterns for a range of restoration objectives against potential fire behavior. New methods in risk analysis will be a key part of the workshop. Specifically, we will demonstrate how formal risk analysis can be applied to the fuel treatment planning process to measure the performance of fuel treatments at the landscape scale. The workshop will be led by a team of fire modelers, geographic information systems (GIS) experts, and resource specialists with an extensive background in restoration and fuel treatment planning.

The RapidSpot workshop has the following objectives:

  1. Provide a consistent, systematic approach for evaluating and addressing landscape-level risks in a collaborative way to integrate restoration and fuel management with multiple interacting threats (e.g., insects, disease, and climate change).
  2. The workshop will provide a transparent way to rapidly document tradeoffs for decisionmakers, using peer-reviewed risk analysis methods.
  3. Participants will have a better way to establish common ground for collaboration with the public, partners, and other stakeholders.
  4. The end result should be a better ability to show how our management can make a difference in reducing the potential for problem fires while addressing a number of threats to healthy forests.
  5. Each participating team will complete a major portion of the modeling and cumulative impact analysis for a restoration project underway on their units.


Workshop on exploring quantitative approaches for vegetation management and forest planning under a changing climate

E-MAIL CONTACT: cgshaw[at]fs.fed.us

WORKSHOP LEADS: Terry Shaw and Linda Joyce, RMRS; Bill Hubbard, University of Georgia

DATES: January/February 2008

SUMMARY: Currently, there exist many ecological models that project vegetation productivity or vegetation type under climate change. Those models produce various results based on different realizations of the ecological processes, similar to the many different global climate models that are available. These ecological models offer planners and managers several pictures of future vegetative landscapes. Determining which model best suits the particular needs of a manager or planner can be overwhelming. A workshop is planned to provide information on how to understand and potentially use the results of these models including ways to work with scientists and modelers. This workshop will provide the avenue to explore the different classes of models that can be used to project future vegetation with climate change and the role that these models can play in increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of decisionmaking in land management and planning.

Workshop goals and objectives:

  • Evaluate and document the purposes, limitations, strengths, and weaknesses of the different classes of models that can be used to project future vegetation with climate change.
  • Provide a forum for discussion between modelers, planners, and managers on ways to increase the use and effectiveness of various vegetation management models in a changing climate.


State-of-the science review of probabilistic regional risk assessment methodologies for western wildands

E-MAIL CONTACT: Becky Kerns, bkerns[at]fs.fed.us

WORKSHOP LEADS: Peter Woodbury and David Weinstein, Cornell University, Ithica, New York.

DATE: September 2005, Portland, Oregon.

SUMMARY: The goal of the workshop was to enhance the development of a strategic plan for WWETAC activities by collecting 25 to 30 experts in the field on risk and threat assessment to review the state of the science of probabilistic regional risk assessment methodologies. We identified and discussed the methods currently in use that are capable of evaluating the threats to ecosystems, including fire, exotic and native invasive species, insects and diseases, loss of open space, and unmanaged outdoor recreation. Models were evaluated for usefulness for western wildland threat assessments and the advantages and disadvantages of each of these methods.

Workshop: conservation markets roundtable: frameworks for bundling ecological services

E-MAIL CONTACT: glarocco[at]defenders.org

WORKSHOP LEADS: Gina LaRocco, and Sara Vickerman, Defenders of Wildlife; Robert Deal, U.S. Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland, OR

DATES: To be determined

SUMMARY: WWETAC helped to sponsor this workshop, which was focused on identifying and understanding some of the legal and political constraints of an ecosystem marketplace in Oregon, specifically addressed which types of ecosystem credits can be bought and sold, and identified opportunities for landowners to access multiple sources of revenue for providing ecosystem services. There is increasing interest in designing more effective strategies to improve degraded ecosystems and to mitigate impacts from development. One market-based example is to create a multicredit trading system where various types of ecosystem credits can be bought and sold thru an ecosystem marketplace. Overall, a multicredit trading system could provide the opportunity to concurrently address several ecological values such as conservation of wetlands, fish and wildlife habitat, endangered species, water quality and quantity, and carbon sequestration. To assess the potential development of a multicredit trading system in Oregon, it is necessary to identify the opportunities and constraints that exist within the state to help further the system’s development.


Joint Fire Science risk roundtable

E-MAIL CONTACT: cgshaw[at]fs.fed.us

WORKSHOP LEAD: Terry Shaw, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center, Prineville, OR 97754

DATES: To be determined

COLLABORATOR: Joint Fire Science Program, National Interagency Fire Center, Boise, ID

SUMMARY: WWETAC is assisting the Joint Fire Science Program with a risk roundtable to bring together a broad group of managers and scientists and explore the application of risk science to improve our understanding of wildfire threats. The roundtable will provide material for a science plan to guide JFSP science investments. The roundtable will explore questions such as how wildland fire risk can be quantified and communicated to compare changes in risk across the values of interest (ecological, economic, and social) under different fuel management and incident response scenarios. Key aspects of the essential question include:

  • Short-term versus long-term costs, benefits, and consequences.
  • Explicit probabilities and uncertainties.
  • Scalable risk assessment and communication approaches.
  • Costs and consequences associated with different levels of risk.
  • Risk reduction as a performance metric.


Evaluating soil risks associated with severe wildfire and ground-based logging

E-MAIL CONTACT: kreynolds[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Keith M. Reynolds, PNW Research Station, USDA forest Service, Corvallis OR

COLLABORATORS: Paul F. Hessburg, PNW Station; Bob Meurisse, PBS Engineering and Environmental; Dick Miller, private soils consultant

SUMMARY: A logic-based analysis of forested soil polygons on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest was designed and implemented with the Ecosystem Management Decision Support System (2, 3) to evaluate risks to soil properties and productivity associated with moderate to severe wildfire and unmitigated use of ground-based logging equipment. Soil and related data are from standard National Cooperative Soil Surveys. The logic-based model developed for this study captures the knowledge of two senior soil scientists (Miller and Meurisse collaborators in this study) with a collective experience of over 70 years in soils field work and research. Adequate GIS data to support such analysis are not always available, so we also developed a companion model for interactive use on field-going PCs. The interactive model allows users to assess individual soil units in the field.


Fire, bark beetles and salvage logging in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

E-MAIL CONTACT: Monica G. Turner, turnermg[at]wisc.edu

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Monica G. Turner, Department of Zoology, Birge Hall, University of Wisconsin; Kenneth F. Raffa, Department of Entomology, Russell Labs, University of Wisconsin; Jacob A. Griffin, Department of Zoology, Birge Hall, University of Wisconsin; Erinn Powell, Department of Entomology, Russell Labs, University of Wisconsin; Martin Simard, Department of Zoology, Birge Hall, University of Wisconsin

SUMMARY: Forest managers are increasingly interested in how potential wildfire risk changes after bark beetle epidemics. Forest Service efforts to examine this question with the Forest Vegetation Simulator modeling system have been frustrated by the lack of reference data to validate observed modeling outcomes. Real-world data are needed to advance the modeling environment and enhance predictive capacity. A reasonable modeling system in FVS would allow managers to examine potential mitigation options for beetles, wildfire, and the interactions between these threats. One aspect that strongly influences the long-term outcome of the beetles on fire behavior is the rate of forest regeneration. The effects of post-disturbance management (e.g., salvage logging) on tree regeneration and subsequent fire risk is also a key unknown. Data on the effects of post-disturbance management would be immediately useful to forest managers and would also be important for improving the predictive capabilities of models. We will help address these needs by providing field data from the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) located in the northern Rockies, primarily in Wyoming and Montana. The GYE has a natural crown-fire regime with long fire-return intervals (150 to 300 years), and it is currently experiencing extensive outbreaks of three bark beetles (mountain pine beetle (MPB), spruce beetle, and Douglas-fir beetle). Thus, it serves as an excellent natural laboratory in which to study fire-beetle interactions. Our field studies will be located primarily in Bridger-Teton National Forest and Yellowstone National Park.


Nationwide Forest Imputation Study (NaFIS)

E-MAIL CONTACTS: finleya[at]msu.edu (eastern US), johmann[at]fs.fed.us (western US)

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Ken Brewer, Remote Sensing Applications Center (RSAC), USDA Forest Service (FS); Andy Finley, Michigan State University; Ron McRoberts, Northern Research Station, USDA FS; Janet Ohmann, PNW Research Station, USDA FS; Mark Finco, RSAC, USDA FS; Matt Gregory, Oregon State University (OSU); Emilie Grossmann, OSU

COLLABORATORS: Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team, Washington Office, USDA FS (Frank Sapio and Eric Smith); Forest Inventory and Analysis Program, Washington Office, USDA FS; Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center (WWETAC), USDA FS (Jerry Beatty and Terry Shaw); Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center (EFETAC), USDA FS (Bill Smith)

SUMMARY: This project evaluates alternative nearest neighbor techniques with the ultimate goal of recommending an approach for nationwide implementation. Study objectives are to: (1) evaluate alternative nearest neighbor algorithms, (2) develop computing systems for efficient implementation, and (3) produce map products, including variance estimators and accuracy assessments, for multiple forest attributes. The vision for a national nearest neighbor application is to rely on FIA data as the primary source of forest data, and Landsat as the primary remotely sensed data. Other forest, environmental, and physiographic data will be tested for applicability, and ultimately these data inputs could vary by region.


Estimating insect distributions in Alaskan landscapes not covered in aerial surveys

E-MAIL CONTACT: John E. Lundquist, jlundquist[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: John E. Lundquist, Forest Health Protection (FHP) and Pacific Northwest Research Station, Anchorage, AK

COLLABORATORS: Mark Schultz, FHP, Juneau, AK; James Kruse, FHP, Fairbanks, AK; Dustin Wittwer, FHP, Juneau, AK; Eric Johnson, National Forest System, Juneau, AK; Robin Reich, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO

SUMMARY: The study we are proposing here focuses on the use of spatial statistics to generate predictive spatial models. As spatial statistical techniques become more acceptable and as new spatial analysis techniques are developed, it is certain that these methods will provide valuable insights in understanding the roles of insects and other disturbance agents in forest ecosystems.  One immediate practical application to Alaska is how will forest insect pests be influenced by a changing climate.

Because of its geographic location at the northern edge of various forest types where ecosystems are notably sensitive to changing environment, Alaska has been referred to as the “poster state for global warming”.  Based on the 2007 survey, the most widespread forest pest condition in Alaska is aspen defoliation, which occurs over 750,000 acres, and is associated primarily with aspen leaf miner (Phyllocnistis populiella).  This is a dramatic increase in infested acreage occuring over a period of only 5 or 10 years.  Some believe that it was caused by climate change.

Our long range goal is to work with all of the major insects in Alaska, but initially, we will focus on the two major aspen defoliating insects which have dramatically contrasting population dynamics: one (P. populiella) apparently sensitive to environment factors commonly used to characterize climate (temperature and precipitation), and another (Choristoneura conflictana) that is much less sensitive. 

The specific objectives of this study are:

1)  To determine how existing aerial survey methods and results can be integrated with recently developed spatial modeling techniques to predict insect pest distributions in remote areas of Alaska where aerial surveys are logistically difficult, expensive, and currently impractical.

2)   To adapt a spatial modeling/aerial survey approach aimed at measuring climate change impact on forest insects statewide and establish baseline conditions for future assessments of insect pest migrations and intensification.


Improved early detection for the Mediterranean pine engraver, Orthotomicus erosus, an invasive bark beetle

E-MAIL CONTACTS: Steve Seybold, sseybold[at]fs.fed.us; Steve Munson, smunson[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Steven J. Seybold, Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW), Davis, CA; Robert C. Venette, Northern Research Station (NRS), St. Paul, MN

COLLABORATORS: Mary Louise Flint, Deguang Liu, both UC Davis (UCD), Davis, CA; Beverly M. Bulaon, Forest Health Protection, Sonora, CA; Carl Jørgensen, FHP, Boise, ID; Steve Munson, FHP, Ogden, UT

SUMMARY: The Mediterranean pine engraver, Orthotomicus erosus, was first discovered in California in 2004. The situation with O. erosus is urgent but highly uncertain. This insect has the potential to cause mortality in healthy trees within the Pinaceae, but to date, infestations in the United States seem to have been restricted to stressed trees. The bark beetle does not yet occupy its full potential geographic range. The effects of the insect could be more severe as the insect spreads and encounters new host species, genotypes, and environments. Given that O. erosus is still in the early stages of the invasion, forest pest managers have a unique opportunity to closely monitor the situation and make a rapid response to new finds.

The project uses O. erosus as a highly relevant case to answer important questions in early detection of invasive species. The project formally integrates our improvements in detection technology with the Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team’s (FHTET) advances in risk mapping to produce a clear set of detection guidelines. The statistical foundation underlying this integration becomes especially important when traps are placed, but no beetles are captured. Is it the case that the beetle is really not present locally or would the placement of a few more traps have revealed the presence of the beetle, but at a very low density? The resulting tools from this project will allow managers to formally describe the likelihood that the beetle was present, but simply was not detected.


ICWater sediment transport module

E-MAIL CONTACT: dryan01[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Douglas F. Ryan, USDA-Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station

COLLABORATORS: William B. Samuels, SAIC Corp.; William J. Elliot, USDA-Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS); Deborah Martin, USGS, Boulder; Kevin Hyde, RMRS

SUMMARY: Key decision makers lack tools to assess risk to water resources including drinking water and fish species of concern due to elevated suspended sediments during and after wildland fires.


Applying population ecology to strategies for eradicating invasive forest insects

E-MAIL CONTACTS: aliebhol[at]fs.fed.us; mccullo6[at]msu.edu

USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station; Deborah G. McCullough, Depts. of Entomology and Forestry, Michigan State University

COLLABORATORS: Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center (EFETAC); National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS)

SUMMARY: The principal investigators will assemble a working group that will develop strategies for eradication based on fundamental population biology theory.  To accomplish this, we will need to integrate applied and theoretical ecology.  We have identified a potential suite of participants that represent a wide spectrum of backgrounds.  We anticipate an inter-disciplinary synergy developing that will enable us to address practical issues with conceptual problem-solving to arrive at ecologically and economically efficient solutions.


Sudden Oak Death and Fire

E-MAIL CONTACT: cale[at]ucdavis.edu

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Chris Lee, University of California Cooperative Extension; Susan Frankel, Pacific Southwest Research Station; Katie Palmieri, University of California Berkeley and California Oak Mortality Task Force

SUMMARY: Land managers, fire suppression professionals, and research scientists have speculated about the relationship between increased sudden oak death (Phytophthora ramorum)-caused hardwood mortality and wildfire incidence, severity, and behavior in coastal California. Little quantitative data has emerged to measure the nature of any such relationship. The Basin Complex and Chalk fires in the summer and fall of 2008 along the Big Sur Coast provided the first opportunity for observers to confirm or disconfirm speculations about fire and sudden oak death. In an effort to focus research, outreach, and technical assistance, we conducted an information-gathering survey targeted at select personnel who worked on the Basin Complex and Chalk fires, and followed the survey with a series of meetings with land management professionals and scientists to obtain recommendations for how these firefighters’ experiences should inform future research and outreach efforts. Recommendations included more effective provision of needed maps and safety information; future research into the best methods for sanitizing water or ensuring that infested stream water is not used to fight fire; investigation into characteristics of live fuels in areas of increased hardwood mortality to aid fire behavior analysts with predictions; and increased coordination with firefighting agencies for information distribution and standardization of demobilization procedures.


Aspen decline rapid threat assessment

E-MAIL CONTACT: William.Jacobi[at]ColoState.edu

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: William R. Jacobi, Colorado State University

SUMMARY: The declining health of trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx) communities throughout the west is concerning the public, scientific communities, and land managers in both recent years and historically. Over the past decade, a noticeable loss of acreage has incited ground level aspen health plot establishment by scientists throughout the west, including Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Idaho and Montana, with additional projects scheduled for the next two years. The recent onset of detailed, ground-level stand condition data in aspen ecosystems both highlights the urgency to define the status of aspen health and offers unique opportunities for collaboration and information sharing among states and research groups.

A Rapid Threat Assessment (RTA) defining the state of aspen health is needed, and will coordinate aspen health datasets throughout various regions in the western U.S. The RTA will attempt to qualitatively and quantitatively define and characterize the exposure of aspen to current threats, and determine the feasibility and scope and objectives of examining the current state of those threats.


Risk science plan for the Joint Fire Science Program

E-MAIL CONTACT: cgshaw[at]fs.fed.us


SUMMARY: In 2006 the multi-agency, Joint Fire Science Program asked fire managers throughout the Nation about their critical research needs. Managers overwhelmingly stated that the quantification and characterization of risk was one of the highest priorities. In response to this need, the Joint Fire Science Program, in collaboration with the Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center (WWETAC) held two roundtables to better understand the issue of risk in relation to wildland fire management. WWETAC is building a science plan to address the wildland fire risk issues raised at the roundtables. The JFSP Governing Board intends to use this science plan to guide requests for research projects related to risk management in fiscal year 2008.


Synthesis of effects of insect-caused tree mortality on fire characteristics

E-MAIL CONTACT:jhicke[at]uidaho.edu

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Jeffrey Hicke, University of Idaho/Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center, USDA Forest Service; Jane Hayes, Pacific Northwest (PNW) Research Station, USDA Forest Service (FS); Morris Johnson, PNW Research Station

SUMMARY: Insect outbreaks are killing trees across millions of acres of forest in the US.  These dead, red trees have raised public concerns about several issues, including damage to infrastructure, limitations to recreational activities, and, most prominently, wildfire.  Some recent scientific studies have reported modifications to fuels following outbreaks, and fire managers and field personnel have reported cases of modified fire behavior in beetle-killed stands.  However, results of scientific studies of subsequent wildfire behavior and occurrence are inconsistent.  Reconciling these seemingly disparate views is key to furthering a greater understanding of these disturbance interactions.

WWETAC has convened a review team of Forest Service and academic scientists to review the scientific understanding of this topic.  The WWETAC team is surveying the scientific literature, including reports and papers in scientific journals, to update and augment existing published reviews.  Most of the past reviews have focused on bark beetles; the team will also include other relevant studies of tree mortality and subsequent wildfire.  In addition, the team is identifying ongoing research in this topic and listing gaps in knowledge.


Mexican bark beetle atlas

E-MAIL CONTACT: jlhayes[at]fs.fed.us; aager[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Jane Hayes, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station; Alan Ager, Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center

SUMMARY: Bark beetles belonging to the genus Dendroctonus are a wide-ranging and important disturbance agent in the pine forests of Mexico. As the climate changes, Mexican bark beetles may migrate north into U.S. forests, potentially causing widespread mortality. A new atlas maps the present and potential distribution for bark beetle species. The atlas also quantifies the frequency of specific pine-bark beetle associations found in historical collections and provides new information on the host specificity. Researchers created a beetle threat index and used it to map where beetle populations might have the largest impact on 25 native pine species.

The atlas can be used by researchers in a variety of biogeographical studies to further describe the distributions of bark beetle populations relative to their host species and their potential distribution under future climate scenarios. Managers can use the atlas to understand where bark beetles will likely have future impacts on pine forests in Mexico.


Adapting and improving Swiss needle cast management tools to incorporate climate change projections

E-MAIL CONTACT: stonej[at]science.oregonstate.edu

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Jeffrey K. Stone, Leonard B. Coop, Dept of Botany and Plant Pathology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR  97331

SUMMARY: Our objective is to develop a high resolution (200 to 800 m) disease visualization tool that will incorporate weather, climate, and topographic effects to spatially display Swiss needle cast disease distribution and severity for all of western Oregon and Washington to serve several management needs. Improvements will be made to existing SNC spatial models to improve model accuracy and resolution, and to more accurately reflect coastal and inland meteorological effects.  The model will incorporate IPCC climate change projections to predict effects of climate change on SNC severity.


Developing an interior west-wide model to predict present and future climatic influences on Armillaria root disease in the USA

E-MAIL CONTACT: nklopfenstein[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Ned Klopfenstein, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station; Helen Maffei and Aaron Smith, USDAS Forest Service, Region 6 Forest Health Protection; Mary Lou Fairweather, USDAS Forest Service, Region 3 Forest Health Protection

SUMMARY: Currently, Armillaria root disease causes growth/volume losses of 16-55% in areas of western North America. Armillaria root disease is typically more severe in highly susceptible tree species, and in trees that are maladapted to climate-induced stress (Ayres and Lombardero 2000; Kliejunas et al. 2009; McCarthy et al. 2001; Sturrock 2007). Thus, it is likely that climate change will further exacerbate damage from Armillaria root disease, and further predispose trees to beetle attack. Precise information on accurately identified species and occurrence of Armillaria spp. across diverse landscapes is needed to predict distribution (and activity) under current and changing climates. Predictions of the present and future distribution of Armillaria root disease can guide forest managers for implementing appropriate forest practices to manage Armillaria root disease according to current and future climates.

From 2007 to present, USDA Forest Service, Forest Health Protection (FHP) Region 6 and Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS) collaborated to collect information on Armillaria spp. distribution in Oregon’s East Cascades, and Armillaria isolates were identified by DNA sequencing. In 2010 and 2011, FHP Region 3, Northern Arizona University (NAU), and Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) will survey for Armillaria spp. and determine their ecological roles in Arizona. Armillaria spp. are known to occur in Arizona (Gilbertson and Bigelow 1998), but little is known about which species occur, where they occur, which host trees they infect, and the impact of the root disease.

This proposed project will integrate distribution data for Armillaria spp. into bioclimatic models that can predict potential distribution of Armillaria root disease pathogens based on climate and host tree distribution. A bioclimatic modeling approach will allow more precise predictions of pathogens and associated disease, because these predictions will be based on actual distribution and climate data. Using this approach, future Armillaria spp. distributions can be predicted using various climate-change scenario projections.


Case studies on risk analysis for fuel treatment planning

E-MAIL CONTACT: nvaillant[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Nicole Vaillant, WWETAC; Alan Ager, WWETAC; Mark Finney, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Missoula, MT

SUMMARY: Large investments in wildland fuel reduction projects are being made on federal lands in many regions within the United States in an ongoing effort by land management agencies to control human and ecological losses from catastrophic wildfire.  The implementation of these projects continues to challenge planners as they attempt to reduce fuels over extensive areas while addressing multiple and often conflicting federal planning regulations, management objectives, public expectations, and finite budgets.  Policies, constraints, and regulations that restrict treatment location, type, and total area treated, can significantly degrade the performance of a landscape fuel treatment strategy. For instance, focusing treatments in and around highly valued areas, such as the wildland urban interface (WUI), is less efficient and perhaps not compatible with landscape restoration goals to change large fire behavior. The long term compatibility of these divergent management objectives to protect relatively small WUI’s while also meeting large landscape forest restoration goals is not well understood. In fact, there are few case studies that examine the effect of alternative landscape fuel treatment strategies on fire behavior and fire effects.

This work concerns the application of risk analysis for project planning.  Specifically, case studies are being completed to demonstrate the operational application and interpretation of risk analysis tools and models.  The methods combine formal risk analyses with wildfire simulation methods and provide a framework to quantitatively measure performance of the fuel treatments with risk based measures.  


Evaluating interactions between insect infestations and fire extent and fire severity: A preliminary investigation in Washington and Oregon

E-MAIL CONTACT: pmorgan[at]uidaho.edu

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Penny Morgan, Department of Forest Resources, University of Idaho; Zachary A. Holden, USDA Forest Service; Eva Strand, Department of Rangeland Ecology and Management, University of Idaho; Jeff Hicke, Department of Geography, University of Idaho; Alan Ager, WWETAC, USDA Forest Service

SUMMARY: Fire activity and insect infestations in western forests are both expected to increase with climate change. Interactions between these two important disturbance agents (e.g. how insect-infested stands will influence fire behavior and post-fire ecological effects) are relatively unknown.  This study will assess the effects of insect infestations on fire extent and fire severity using data available for Oregon and Washington. A 22-year burn severity atlas databases developed from pre and post-fire Landsat images will be combined with historical aerial insect survey data.

Hypotheses include:  1. Timing of insect disturbance and fire occurrence matter. Fires that occur soon after initial insect attack will increase the probability of severe fire occurrence.  2.  Fires that occur long after insect attack and tree mortality may burn intensely (i.e. high fire line intensity and crowning in dead needle laden trees) but will show a decrease severity inferred from satellite imagery due to lack of green vegetation at infested sites, despite the potential for severe understory effects (e.g. soil heating and post-fire erosion.  3.  Post-fire effects will depend on the intensity of the insect infestation. Low-to moderately infested stands will show higher post-fire severity response inferred from satellite data, due to increased crown fire risk, higher surface fuel loading and presence of green canopy.  4. Fire effects on soil characteristics will be higher in insect infested stands due to increased surface fuel loading and low packing ratios of those fuels.


Landscape-scale enhanced mountain pine beetle and climate change threat assessment

E-MAIL CONTACT: bbentz[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Barbara Bentz, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Logan, UT; Jim Powell, Utah State University, Mathematics and Statistics Department & Biology Department, Logan, UT

SUMMARY: Mountain pine beetle (MPB) has caused tree mortality across millions of forested acres in western North America in recent years. Increasing temperature associated with climate change is a major factor influencing MPB outbreak dynamics. Because temperature is such an important driver of MPB population dynamics, the USFS, RMRS research project focused on bark beetles has been analyzing MPB response to temperature for 20+ years. Several data-based mechanistic models that describe MPB response to temperature have been developed, and two models are currently considered operational. A phenology model predicts lifestage-specific developmental timing and a cold tolerance model predicts probability of MPB larval mortality due to cold temperature. Both models are driven using hourly phloem temperature.

The cold tolerance model and a variant of the phenology model (the ‘adaptive seasonality model’) have been implemented within BioSim (Régnière and St. Amant 2007) to make landscape scale predictions. The adaptive seasonality model provides conservative predictions of climate suitability (Yes or No) based on two requirements: 1) univoltinism (e.g. a 1-year life cycle) and 2) emergence of a median individual during an appropriate window of time. This model has been very useful for making broad predictions about climatic suitability and MPB success. However, because only the ‘median individual’ is kept track of in the adaptive seasonality model, it does not incorporate important aspects of distributional timing of population emergence. The distributional timing and number of adults emerging at any given time is important to the mass attack strategy of this insect. Moreover, although univoltinsm is the optimum for population success, recent field research suggests that populations with at least some proportion semivoltinism (e.g. a 2-year life cycle) can also outbreak. What is needed is a flexible model that connects the number of adults emerging, and their timing, to population success.

Gilbert et al. (2004) describe a variant of the MPB phenology model that incorporates developmental variability within life stages, and model output includes the temperature-dependent distribution of adult emergence through time. This simulation model is currently coded in Matlab. Using this variant, we have made significant progress on a model that connects MPB phenology and emergence distribution with a demographic model of population growth rate. This model bridges the gap between phenology predictions and population viability/growth rates for MPB, and is based on phloem temperature and aerial over-flight data (e.g., FHP, ADS). The ultimate goal is improved landscape-scale outbreak probability predictions under climate change scenarios. Because this MPB phenology model is mechanistic, it can be directly evaluated using data that describe the inherent processes that are the basis for the model. We have evaluated the MPB phenology model and parameterized the ‘growth model’ using phloem temperature data from MPB-infested trees and aerial over-flight data of a MPB outbreak in central Idaho. A next step is to evaluate model performance in an additional area. With this model we can mechanistically translate a year-long temperature profile to adult emergence timing, and ultimately MPB population success (as identified by ADS information).

Our overall goal is to develop and evaluate an improved tool for predicting climate change effects on mountain pine beetle outbreak potential. This tool can then be applied more broadly to a wide array of projects funded by WWETAC, including ongoing research to retrospectively analyze interactions among climate, fire, and bark beetle outbreaks, and forest vegetation climate change projections. Combining our refined MPB model with downscaled temperature projections developed by the Pacific Northwest Research Station MAPSS team will provide managers with an important tool for making site specific climate change predictions of beetle suitability and associated tree mortality.


Application of wildfire risk analysis to examine carbon flux from fuel treatments

E-MAIL CONTACT: jcathcart[at]odf.state.or.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Alan A. Ager, Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center; Jim Cathcart, Oregon Department of Forestry

SUMMARY: There is a keen interest in the effect of wildfire risk mitigation programs on the long-term carbon stocks on National Forests in the U.S. These public forests contain a relatively large amount (30 percent) of the U.S. timber volume and their management significant impact on the U.S. forest carbon balance. Fuel reduction projects are being scaled up on many of the fire prone Forests in response to financial and ecological losses from catastrophic wildfire. Fuel reduction activities will likely continue to grow over time in response to changing climate and concomitant increase in fuel loads and fire. A typical fuel reduction project uses a combination of thinning, mechanical treatment of fuels, and burning to reduce surface and canopy fuels. From a carbon perspective, fuel reduction projects can reduce the potential for emissions by removing surface and canopy biomass, leaving a forest landscape that burns with a lower intensity if a fire occurs. Carbon emissions are reduced during (combustion), and after (decay of dead trees) wildfire when fuel treatments result in lower spread rates and intensity. However, fuel management activities remove substantial carbon from the forest, much of which is not fixed in wood products, and generate carbon emission from prescribed fire and the decay of non-merchantable material. Clearly, when a wildfire encounters a fuel treatment, the potential carbon benefit is strongly dependent on the balance between carbon removed in the fuel treatment and the degree to which the wildfire behavior is moderated. Both positive and negative carbon outcomes have been reported in prior studies that examined stand level fuel treatments and fire behavior. In most studies the effect of carbon removal (treatments) on avoided wildfire emissions was insufficient to generate a net carbon benefit because most of the post wildfire carbon remains on the site in dead trees.

However, key assumption in all these studies include: 1) carbon effects from fuel treatments are contained within the spatial extent of the treated stands; 2) wildfires are assumed to linked to treatments (i.e., probability = 1.0), and; 3) wildfire occurrence is independent of the spatial arrangement of fuels, topography, and other factors that are known to drive wildfire probability. It is well documented that fuel treatment effects on large fires can extend well beyond the boundary of treated areas, and empirical data suggest burn probabilities in the range of 0.001 to 0.10 in western U.S. National Forests.  Moreover, simulation studies suggest 100 fold differences over short distances (<5 km) in the likelihood of burning on typical forest landscapes in much of the interior western U.S.  Thus a full accounting of carbon effects from forest management activities requires an approach that captures fire spread and intensity over large landscapes. Such an approach is possible by employing burn probability modeling within a quantitative wildfire risk framework.


Method development and application for linking VDDT and MC1: Climatizing state-and-transition models

E-MAIL CONTACT: bkerns[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Becky Kerns and Miles Helmstrom, USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station

SUMMARY: An urgent need exists to incorporate climate change into tools used for natural resource planning and landscape assessments.  The Vegetation Dynamics Development Tool (VDDT) is a state and transition (STM) modeling framework that simulates the role of disturbance and management on vegetation cover and structure across landscapes. VDDT is being used by the National LANDFIRE project, state agencies (Oregon Department of Forestry, Washington Department of Natural Resources), numerous USDA Forest Service Regions (3, 4, 6, and 9), and non-government agencies (e.g. The Nature Conservancy) for landscape planning and assessments.  But existing VDDT models do not include climate impacts.  We propose incorporating climate change into VDDT models by connecting them to a dynamic vegetation model (DGVM) called MC1 used in climate change modeling.  DGVMs like MC1 project climate change impacts on vegetation, natural disturbances, and other ecological conditions but are of limited use to land managers and others because they require high levels of expertise to run, produce broad scale output that may be difficult to link to smaller areas, and generate output that may be difficult to relate to local resources of interest.  Our project will combine these two types of models for the first time.  The resulting STMs will include transitions that change vegetation potential as climate changes.


The Wildland Fire Leadership Council’s wildfire risk monitoring project

E-MAIL CONTACT: aager[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Alan Ager, WWETAC; Dave Calkin and Mark Finney, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Missoula MT; Tom Quigley, METI Corp.  

SUMMARY: This project concerns the development of a nationwide wildfire risk map for the Wildland Fire Leadership Council (WFLC).  The project addresses the WFLC Monitoring Question -2.5 – What are the trends and changes in fire hazard on federal lands?  This study also addresses national questions from the Office of Management and Budget, Government Accounting Office, and Congress related to measures that demonstrate effective strategies and investments that reduce fire risk to communities and valued resources.  In this project, the probability of fire and fire intensity will be linked with specific resource benefit and loss functions and maps of highly valued resources.  The results will be used by policy makers, planners and managers as they design and prioritize projects to reduce and manage fire risk.  The project is designed to develop, from a strategic view, a first approximation of how fire probabilities and fire intensities influence important values at the national scale.


Threat Mapping and Analysis Tools

E-MAIL CONTACT: aager[at]fs.fed.us; cschrader[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Alan A. Ager, WWETAC; Charlie Schrader, USDA Forest Service, Remote Sensing Applications Center (RSAC) 

SUMMARY: It is estimated that over 1 million spatial data sets on 30,000 internet map servers are now posted by government agencies, Universities, and private organizations.  A substantial number of these map data layers could be useful for wildland threat assessment and mapping. However, functional search engines to locate, assess, and connect to these data do not exist. In this project, we built an internet search engine and integrated it within a virtual earth viewer to assess global spatial data sets for studying the spatial distribution and co-occurrence of various wildland threats and the values they affect.  The system allows integration of internet and corporate spatial data to permit integrated analysis and exploration of wildland threats and values impacted. 


Climate-change toolkit for western Forest Service managers and decision-makers: Incorporating climate into everyday resource management

E-MAIL CONTACT: bkerns[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Becky Kerns, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station

SUMMARY: Development of the toolkit builds upon a foundation of pre-existing efforts from across the three western research stations, which includes ongoing climate impacts modeling, the Synthesis and Assessment 4.4 report, and the Climate Change Resource Center website project.  The target audience for the proposed project is Forest Service resource managers and decision-makers from District to Regional levels; the toolkit, however, will be broadly relevant to other managers, policy makers, and scientists. We will be completing a synthesis and uncertainty analysis of climate change impacts from three case study landscapes in the western U.S. that are the focus of the toolkit.


Integrating ecological risk assessment and economics in environmental decision-making: Fire management case study

E-MAIL CONTACT: pbw1[at]cornell.edu

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Peter Woodbury and David Weinstein, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

SUMMARY: A workshop entitled: Integrating Ecological Risk Assessment and Economics in Environmental Decision-Making: Fire Management Case Study was held in October, 2006 sponsored by the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) and the Johnson Foundation at the Wingspread Conference Center, in Racine, WI. The goal of this workshop was to examine previously published principles for management of complex environmental issues in the context of wildland and forest fire management in the USA.  Because fire management is such a  broad topic, the Fire Program Analysis system (http://www.fpa.nifc.gov/) was selected as a focal point.  The existing capabilities of the FPA system (i.e., optimal resource allocation for initial attack), as well as planned capabilities regarding optimal resource allocation for fuel reduction, were examined.  Workshop participants analyzed how the FPA addresses the following question: How should public resources (including resources for fuel reduction and initial attack) be allocated to minimize the risks to social welfare (including life and health; built and other cultural assets; and ecological and other natural resources) posed by wildfires in the U.S.?  The planning committee and workshop participants evaluated the extent to which an existing risk management and evaluation framework can be used to address this question. This framework is entitled “Valuation of Ecological Resources: Integration of Ecological Risk Assessment and Socio-economics to Support Environmental Decisions” and is currently undergoing review for publication. The Steering Committed and workshop participants included many disciplines related to fire management including economists, ecologists, social scientists, risk assessment experts, and risk management experts. A description of our analysis of the FPA system will be submitted for publication in the SETAC journal, Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management.


Are the introduced parasites of larch casebearer (Coleophora laricella), still present in the Blue Mountains, Oregon?

E-MAIL CONTACT: David Shaw, dave.shaw[at]oregonstate.edu; Paul Oester, paul.t.oester[at]oregonstate.edu

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: David Shaw, Department of Forest Engineering, Resources and Management, and Forestry and Natural Resources Extension, Corvallis, Oregon; Paul Oester, Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society, Forestry and Natural Resources Extension, La Grande, Oregon

SUMMARY: The larch casebearer was introduced into North America in the 1800s and became established in western North America in the 1950s.  Western larch experiences significant defoliation from the insect and a biological control program was initiated in the west in the 1960s.  Two introduced parasites in particular were considered successful in reducing larch casebearer populations; Agathis pumila and Chrysocharis laricinellae. A number of studies were conducted in the Blue Mountains of Oregon and Washington by Roger Ryan to determine the biology of larch casebearer and the biology and impacts of the introduced parasites on the populations of casebearer.  He focused on 13 study sites and evaluated before and after biological control from these introduced parasites.  He determined that the parasites reduced the populations of larch casebearer from over 50 moths/per 100 larch buds (fascicles) to 1.6 larch casebearers/100 larch buds.  The biological control program is considered a major success story. Recently, the larch casebearer has increased defoliation of western larch in Oregon; total defoliation detected during USFS/ODF cooperative aerial survey was over 80,000 acres in 2007, and over 40,000 acres in 2008.  The purpose of this project is to return to the Ryan Blue Mountain study sites and determine whether the parasites are still present, and what impacts they are having on the larch casebearer.


Western Forestry Leadership Coalition threats to western private forests

E-MAIL CONTACT: Jamie Barbour, jbarbour01[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Dana Coelho, Western Forestry Leadership Coalition (WFLC)

SUMMARY: This project, cooperatively funded through the Western Forestry Leadership Coalition (WFLC), will use the results from a set of regional, threat-themed workshops to produce a substantive report on the threats to private working forests in the Western United States. The report will draw from the input of key stakeholders and will reflect an analysis of the socio-political challenges. The report will also use statistical analysis to support the conclusions of the workshops and will therefore have similar facets to the “Forests on the Edge Report.” Other aspects of the report will be similar to the “Southern Forest Resource Assessment” in that it will reflect thematic synthesis from a broad range of perspectives.


Adapting to climate change: A short course for land managers

E-MAIL CONTACT: Michael Furniss, mfurniss[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Michael J. Furniss, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station (PNW)

COLLABORATORS: Constance Millar, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station; David L. Peterson, Ronald P. Neilson, Becky Kerns and Jessica E. Halofsky, PNW; Linda A. Joyce, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station

SUMMARY: Information in this short course summarizes the state-of-the science for natural resource managers and decision-makers regarding climate variability, change, climate projections, and ecological and management responses to climate variability. The information and talks included were produced from a July 2008 workshop at the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest that brought together key U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Geological Survey scientists, and a select group of pioneering resource managers who served as reviewers and discussants.


Annotated bibliography of climate and bark beetles of western forests

E-MAIL CONTACT: Jane Hayes, jlhayes[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Jane L. Hayes, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station and Western Bark Beetle Research Group

COLLABORATORS: Members of the Western Bark Beetle Research Group

SUMMARY: There is currently a lack of accessible sources of information on the topic of potential influences of climate change on bark beetles of western forests.  The daily activity and timing of life cycle events of insects are largely temperature dependent; thus, even subtle changes in climate regimes may have significant consequences with respect to host interactions for phytophagous insects such as bark beetles.  While considerable reference material pertinent to this topic exists, it is often scattered across the literature from numerous disciplines, such as entomology, tree physiology, forest ecology, and climate. In many cases, relevant information can be found in papers that are focused on other topics and therefore the relevance is not readily apparent from the title or even the abstract. The purpose of this project is the creation of an easily searchable annotated bibliography for available literature focused on the topic of the potential influences of climate change on bark beetles and their effects on western forests.


Crown fire behavior characteristics and prediction in conifer forests: A state of knowledge synthesis

E-MAIL CONTACT: Nicole M. Vaillant, nvaillant[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Martin E. Alexander, University of Alberta, Department of Renewable Resources; Miguel G. Cruz, CSIRO-Commonwealth Scientific & Research Organization; David L. Peterson, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station; Nicole M. Vaillant, Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center

SUMMARY: The National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) glossary indicates that extreme fire behavior involves “a level of fire behavior characteristics that ordinarily precludes methods of direct control action. One or more of the following is usually involved: high rate of spread, prolific crowning and/or spotting, presence of fire whirls, strong convective column. Predictability is difficult because such fires often exercise some degree of influence on their environment and behave erratically, sometimes dangerously.”  The focus of the project is to synthesize available information on crown fire behavior related to conifer forests (e.g., the onset of crowning, type of crown fire and the associated spread rate and fireline intensity, convection column development, spotting, fire-induced vortices). The synthesis will be global in nature and is intended for multiple audiences ranging from the general public to college students to fire and land managers to university professors). The synthesis will include published peer-review articles, non-refereed publications, survey of operational experiences from fire and land managers, and data and information, including video footage, obtained during wildfire monitoring the USDA Forest Service’s Adaptive Management Enterprise Services Team Fire Behavior Assessment Team.


Developing biological control methods for the goldspotted oak borer (GSOB), Agrilus coxalis (Coleoptera: Buprestidae)

E-MAIL CONTACT: Steve Seybold, sseybold[at]fs.fed.us; Mark Hoddle, mark.hoddle[at]ucr.edu

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Steven J. Seybold, Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW), Davis, CA; Mark Hoddle, University of California, Riverside, CA

COLLABORATORS: Tom Coleman, Forest Health Protection (FHP), Region 5, San Bernardino, CA; Owen Martin, Cleveland National Forest, San Diego, CA; Joel McMillin, FHP, Region 3, Flagstaff, AZ; Robert LeFevre, Coronado National Forest, Tucson, AZ

SUMMARY: The goldspotted oak borer (GSOB) is currently the most devastating insect pest to attack native oaks in California (>17,000 trees killed since 2002 and this number is increasing as GSOB spreads). Infestation levels in areas with heavy tree mortality are now approaching 90%. Current management options are limited to preventive insecticide treatments for high-value trees and removal and sanitation of material from infested trees.  Biological control of GSOB with host-specific parasitoids has the potential to provide a long-term, widespread, low-cost, environmentally benign, and pest-specific management strategy. 


Downscaling meteorological datasets for climate change assessments

E-MAIL CONTACT: jabatzaglou[at]uidaho.edu

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: John Abatzoglou, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID

COLLABORATOR: Alan Ager, Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center

SUMMARY: Climate and weather are key abiotic drivers of ecosystems and disturbance. While ecosystems have evolved and adapted to the historical range of variability of these abiotic influences, projected changes in climate over the 21st century have the potential to produce abiotic conditions that exceed the historic range of variability, with widespread implications across the Western US. To better understand the impacts of climate change on natural disturbances including wildlife and bark beetles projected changes in climate need to be incorporated into models at spatial and temporal scales relevant to the process of interest.  This includes addressing potential extreme weather and climate events beyond the natural range of variability, which are likely to pose significant threats to ecosystems already at-risk, and illustrates the need for datasets that encompass a spectrum of timescales and incorporate changes in variability. While the production of downscaled climate datasets has exploded in recent years, most of these datasets are limited by temporal resolution (i.e., they are typically monthly resolution), output variables (i.e., they typically only produce temperature and precipitation projections), and methods (i.e., they typically cannot incorporate changes in higher-order statistical moments or spatial patterns).  Models for key disturbances, including wildfire and bark beetles require finer temporal resolution data to capture their potential effects on forest ecosystems.

This project proposes a novel approach to downscaling meteorological data for climate change risk assessment. The methods described herein overcome the known limitations of available downscaling methodologies and provide the ability to assess extreme weather and climate events as well as additional meteorological variables relevant to ecological impacts. The resulting datasets can be utilized for existing WWETAC projects concerning climate change impacts that ultimately will lead to a climate change framework that allows land managers to identify potentially vulnerable areas; prioritize investment in projects to increase the resilience of forests and grasslands; and incorporate projected changes in fire danger into development of fire management plans, State forest assessments, and other strategic land management plans.


Assessment review of remote sensing technologies for threat detection

E-MAIL CONTACTS: Lee Vierling, leev[at]uidaho.edu; Jan Eitel, jeitel[at]vandals.uidaho.edu

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Lee Vierling and Jan Eitel, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID

COLLABORATOR: Alan Ager, Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center, Prineville, OR

SUMMARY: A comprehensive literature review is needed to identify cutting-edge remote sensing technologies and techniques that may be suitable to remotely detect forest stress at its early stages. The project will also generate a shorter technology assessment briefing paper that will help managers gain a broad understanding of recent advances in remote sensing and potential applications for specific monitoring problems.


A national early warning system for environmental threats

E-MAIL CONTACTS: Bill Hargrove, whargrove[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Bill Hargrove, Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center, Asheville, NC

COLLABORATORS: NASA Stennis Space Center; Oak Ridge National Laboratory; University of North Carolina Asheville’s (UNCA) National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center; USGS EROS Data Center; USDA Forest Service Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center, Forest Inventory and Analysis, Forest Health Monitoring, Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team, and Remote Sensing Applications Center

SUMMARY: The early warning system is an ongoing monitoring project that detects forest threats across the continental United States using remote sensing and geographic information systems. The tool will help forest managers identify large scale forest changes faster, allowing them to use traditional methods to confirm and determine the nature and severity of the forest threat. 


Insect & Pathogen Hazard Rating System Database

E-MAIL CONTACT: Eric Smith, elsmith[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Eric L. Smith, Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team, Ft Collins, CO

COLLABORATOR: Andrew McMahan, SofTec Solutions, Inc., Ft. Collins, CO

SUMMARY: The Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team’s Forest Insect & Pathogen Hazard Rating Systems Database is a collection of detailed summaries of insect and disease hazard and riskmodels and citations organized in a Microsoft Access relational database.  It has been constructed to serve three primary users: (1) Field practitioners can use it to locate published literature for evaluating field conditions and making treatment prescriptions.  (2) Researchers and other investigators will find it helpful when reviewing previous study methods and findings.  (3) Groups doing strategic planning, such as that done for the National Insect and Disease Risk Map efforts, can use it as the basis for integrative modeling.


Landscape-level effects of fuel treatments on wildfire risk and carbon in central Oregon

E-MAIL CONTACT: Nicole Vaillant, nvaillant[at]fs.fed.us


COLLABORATORS: Mark Finney, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; Andrew McMahan, SofTec Solutions, Inc., Ft. Collins, CO

SUMMARY: Several studies have investigated the tradeoffs from implementing fuels reduction treatments for the purpose of reducing wildfire severity and their effect on carbon stocks, CO2 emissions from treatment, and avoided wildfire emissions as a result of treatments (i.e. Finkral and Evans 2008, Hurteau et al. 2008, Hurteau and North 2009, Reinhardt and Holsinger 2010).  Although informative, these studies are limited to stand-level assessments where the probability of fire is 1.  We propose to look at landscape-level fire simulations to calculate carbon pools and emissions for expected (where burn probability is <<1) and conditional (where burn probability is 1) scenarios for both treated and untreated landscapes.


An assessment of climate change impacts and adaptation options for National Forest genetic resources

E-MAIL CONTACT: Vicky Erickson, verickson[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Vicky Erickson, USFS Pacific Northwest Region, Pendleton, OR; Brad St. Clair, USFS Pacific Northwest Research Station, Corvallis, OR

COLLABORATORS: Glenn Howe, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR; Randy Johnson, USFS National Program Leader Climate Change (acting) and Genetics Research, Washington, D.C.; Matt Horning, USFS Pacific Northwest Region, Bend OR; Paul Berrang, USFS Eastern Region, Milwaukee, WI; Mary Mahalovich, USFS Northern, Rocky Mountain, Southwestern, and Intermountain Regions, Moscow, ID; Barb Crane, USFS Southern Region, Atlanta, GA; Tom Blush, USFS Pacific Southwest Region, Placerville, CA

SUMMARY: The objective of this project is to develop a white paper, fact sheet, and peer-reviewed publication describing (1) the potential effects of climate change and interacting stressors and threats on genetic resources in North American forests, (2) adaptive strategies and decision support tools for conserving, restoring, and managing forest genetic resources, and (3) National Forest genetic research and management needs for addressing predicted climate change impacts. This project builds on a March 2010 national workshop on climate change and forest genetic resource issues sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Region and the Pacific Northwest Research Station.  The project will provide an overview of plant genetic adaptations to current climate, and discuss ongoing as well as potential future impacts of rapidly changing climate conditions on forest genetic resources.  Genetic research needs and management options for facilitating how plants respond and adapt to climate change will be summarized.  Information from the March workshop and follow-up interviews and literature reviews will be used to provide comparisons and contrasts among national forest landscapes in the western, southern, and northeastern United States.  The project will help inform resource specialists, scientists, land managers, and others about the potential effects of predicted climate change on National Forest genetic resources, and the information needs and investments required to develop appropriate management responses.


Genetic characterization of guava rust (Puccinia psidii): Evaluating pathways of spread and assessing future threats

E-MAIL CONTACT: Ned Klopfenstein, nklopfenstein[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Ned Klopfenstein, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS)

COLLABORATORS: Acelino C. Alfenas, Rodrigo N. Graca, and Cristina P. Aun, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Viçosa, MG, Brazil; Tobin L. Peever, Washington State University, Pullman, WA; Amy L. Ross-Davis, Western Forestry & Conservation Association and USDA FS, RMRS; Mee-Sook Kim, Kookmin University, Seoul, Korea; Phil G. Cannon, USDA Forest Service, Forest Health Protection, Vallejo, CA; Janice Uchida and Chris Y. Kadooka, University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa, Honolulu, HI; Robert D. Hauff, Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources, Honolulu, HI

SUMMARY: Puccinia psidii (guava rust) is the cause of rust disease of many host species in the Myrtaceae family, including guava, eucalyptus, rose apple, and ohia. First reported in 1884 on guava in Brazil, the rust has since been detected in other South America countries (Argentina, Colombia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela), Central America (Costa Rica, and Panama), the Caribbean (Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, Virgin Islands) ,  Mexico, USA (Florida, California, and Hawaii, and most recently Japan. Of present concern is the recent introduction of the rust pathogen to Hawaii, where it infects an endemic tree species known as ohia (Metrosideros polymorpha), the dominant tree species in Hawaii’s remnant native forests. Furthermore, the introduction of additional rust strains could further threaten forests in Hawaii. Of special note is that Uredo rangelii, which DNA sequence data place into the P. psidii complex, was reported for the first time in Australia where it infected three different myrtaceous hosts. Thus, guava rust also poses serious threats to several hosts in the Myrtaceae including Eucalyptus, a genus native to Australia, which is planted extensively in numerous tropical and subtropical countries. Despite the potential threats to numerous world-wide forest ecosystems and the expanding geographic range of this disease, little is known about the genetic structure of pathogen populations, migratory routes and sources of introductions. Genetic characterization of P. psidii populations will provide insights into the evolution, spread, and potential migratory routes of this invasive pathogen.


Applied resistance breeding for forest trees workshop

E-MAIL CONTACT: Richard Sniezko, rsniezko[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Susan Frankel, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station and Richard Sniezko, USDA Forest Service, Dorena Genetic Resource Center

COLLABORATORS: IUFRO Working Parties: 7.03.11 (Resistance to Insects) and 2.02.15 (Breeding and Genetic Resources of Five-Needle Pines); USDA Forest Service, Western Wildland Environment Threat Assessment Center (WWETAC), Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center (EFETAC); Pacific Northwest Region (Forest Health Protection & Genetic Resource Programs); Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW); and the California Oak Mortality Task Force

SUMMARY:This workshop will provide an international forum to discuss the status and future plans for applied tree resistance programs for pathogens and insects. An array of issues (including climate change and disease resistance in natural populations) and research tools to fast-track the development of durable resistance in tree species will be presented. The primary audience is those involved with operational breeding programs as well as researchers and extension professionals. The workshop will include field trips, indoor sessions, posters and a proceedings. Breeding programs for resistance, at various stages in development, will be compared: white pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola) in several white pine species; Phytophthora lateralis, in Chamaecyparis lawsoniana (Port-Orford-cedar, Lawson’s cypress); Phytophthora ramorum on tanoak; and many others.


Adaptive Co-management of riparian resources on private and public land in the US west: An inventory of challenges and opportunities

E-MAIL CONTACT: Hannah, Gosnell, gosnellh[at]geo.oregonstate.edu

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Hannah Gosnell and Jill Smedstad, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR

COLLABORATOR: Paige Fischer, Western Wildland Environmental Threat Center

SUMMARY: Environmental conflicts and threats on public and private lands in the US West offer a unique lens through which to examine the ability of institutions and communities to adopt an adaptive co-management governance model.  Conflicts over multiple, interacting threats to riparian areas on public and private lands in the arid West (frequently including cattle grazing and endangered species issues) may potentially benefit from an adaptive co-management governance model.  However, existing institutional and community arrangements may pose significant barriers to implementation of such a model. In order to increase understanding of the theoretical, management, and policy implications of this governance model, we propose to examine challenges and opportunities associated with implementation of adaptive co-management.  Our focus will be on conflict and environmental threats related to riparian area management on public and private lands in the arid western US. 


Literature synthesis of potential components of an adaptive capacity self-assessment tool for WUI communities

E-MAIL CONTACTS: Matthew Carroll, carroll[at]wsu.edu; Paige Fischer, paigefischer[at]fs.fed.us

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Matthew Carroll, Washington State University, Pullman, WA

COLLABORATOR: Paige Fischer, Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center, Prineville, OR

SUMMARY: Human communities in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), areas where housing mixes with undeveloped wildlands, face a variety of specific challenges ranging from a loss of economic base to drought, fire and forest health issues in the areas around them. Most of these challenges relate directly or indirectly to their relationship to the forests and wildland settings in which they are located. In this project we attempt to synthesize what is known in the literature about how the capacity of human communities in the WUI to adapt may be assessed both by communities themselves and by other government entities which may use such information to assist WUI communities in becoming more adaptive to social economic and environmental change. This important step will ultimately assist in the creation and testing of a broadly applicable assessment tool which can be employed across the WUI as part of an effort to improve community resilience.


Examining the influence and effectiveness of communication programs and community partnerships on public perceptions of smoke management: A multi-region analysis

E-MAIL CONTACT: Eric Toman, toman.10[at]osu.edu

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Eric Toman, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH; Christine Olsen, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR

COLLABORATOR: Paige Fischer, Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center, Prineville, OR

SUMMARY: This project examines how communication programs and fire and fuels-related community partnerships influence public perceptions of smoke management across multiple regions. Using a case study design, we will compare communities where smoke (from wildfire or prescribed fire) has impacted citizens and examine the factors that influence acceptance levels. We will identify communication strategies that were used in relation to smoke, assess community preparedness for fire and presence of partnerships, and explore whether these strategies and partnerships influence citizen tolerance of smoke. Preliminary results will be synthesized and used in a series of behavioral experiments at each study site to assess the influence of different interventions on participants’ attitudes and behaviors towards smoke.


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