USDA Forest Service

Pacific Northwest Research Station

Pacific Northwest Research Station
1220 SW 3rd Ave.
Portland, OR 97204

(503) 808-2100

US Forest Service
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» Connect people to the outdoors

Wildlife biology ambassador

Connecting kids to forests through wildlife

Kids learning about owls with Janice Reid.”Photo credit: J. Hovik.
Kids learning about owls with Janice Reid. Photo credit: J. Hovik.

For 2 days and nights last summer, over 30 kids aged 7 to 19 experienced wilderness camping at Twin Lakes in the Umpqua National Forest. This fun outdoor adventure gave kids a chance to hike, swim, and help with restoration activities. Another goal of the campout was to help the kids learn about forests and the creatures that live in them. Wildlife biologist Janice Reid went along to teach the campers about owls. Reid has been studying northern spotted owls in the Pacific Northwest for 30 years. She showed the campers pictures and gave them a natural history lesson of owls in the region and around the world. “I also showed skeletons of the mammals and birds that were often found in the regurgitated pellets of owls. I played audio sounds and showed feathers. Using these tools, I described the uniqueness of owl vision, flight, and hearing. The next night a pygmy owl was calling, and I was able to alert the group to its presence,” she said. Most of the campers came from Casa De Belen, a home in Roseburg, Oregon, for children in challenging domestic situations. Many of these youth do not traditionally experience the outdoors.


Contact: Janice Reid,

Human ecology mapping

Revealing public priorities for forest destinations


Mapping human connections to the land. Photo credit: Lee Cerveny.
Mapping human connections to the land. Photo credit: Lee Cerveny.

What are people seeking when they venture onto public forest land? The possibility of a wilderness adventure? Serenity and solitude? Or maybe motorized recreation? Public land managers making decisions about construction and maintenance of infrastructure and facilities need to know what people value so that they can prioritize their work. Social scientist Lee Cerveny uses a technique called Human Ecology Mapping to help gather exactly this kind of information. The Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest sought her help in getting a better understanding of public values, uses, and interactions to help inform their process of sustainable roads planning. Cerveny and her colleagues collaborated with a broad range of partners to ensure a diversity of perspectives. Through a series of eight public workshops, the scientists invited participants to use maps to identify forest destinations and roads that were important for recreation, livelihood, cultural connections, food and resource gathering, and other reasons. The project resulted in maps and data that can be integrated with other geo-spatial data for use in travel management planning. These outputs proved to be of high value to the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in identifying locations with high-density use, the activities people engage in and where specific activities are concentrated, and where recreation activities occur in relation to roads. 


Contact: Lee Cerveny,


More information: Where do Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest visitors go, and which roads do they use to get there? An analysis of the spatial data from the 2013 sustainable roads workshops.



Outdoor recreation trends

National forests support local economic activity


Hiking is very popular. Photo credit: Ian D. Keating via Compfight cc.
Hiking is very popular. Photo credit: Ian D. Keating via Compfight cc.

Millions of Americans make outdoor recreation a priority in their daily lives. Overall, participation in nature-based outdoor recreation has grown in the last decade, continuing a long-term trend. Social scientist Eric White studies recreation, with a particular focus on public lands that are critical for providing nature-based outdoor recreation opportunities. In a recent study, White and his study team report that hiking is the most popular backcountry activity, with 33 percent adult participation in 2008. By 2030, the participation rate is projected to increase about 3 percent with the number of projected participants exceeding 100 million. They also report that many local communities around national forests benefit from the spending of recreation visitors. Groups recreating on overnight trips far from their home spend about $580 per trip while those recreating for the day close to home spend about $36. In total, recreation opportunities provided by national forests generate about $9.3 billion in spending in local communities. Results from this line of research have been incorporated in tools used in forest planning and strategic assessments. The Forest Service has used those tools to develop a public-facing website that reports the economic activity generated from Forest Service recreation.


Contact: Eric White,


More information: Federal outdoor recreation trends: effects of economic opportunities.


Forest Explorers summer program

Connecting urban youth to forest habitats


Get outside! Photo credit:  lilymae11 via Compfight cc.
Get outside! Photo credit: lilymae11 via Compfight cc.

Exposure to nature is an essential part of healthy child development. Youth who spend time in the outdoors gain social, intellectual, and emotional benefits that can last into adulthood. In an increasingly “wired” society, it can take some extra effort to get kids outside. The Pacific Northwest Research Station has partnered with Oregon State University Extension 4-H in creating the Forest Explorers program. For the second year in a row, Forest Explorers will offer underserved and underrepresented urban 4th graders a chance to learn new skills and experience the outdoors, all while learning about the habitat, wildlife, and water quality benefits of forests. These day-long field programs will foster personal growth, outdoor experiences, and valuable learning opportunities. Youth who participate in long-term, meaningful relationships that emphasize natural resources are more likely to understand, appreciate, and remain connected to those resources into the future, and this new understanding can have immensely positive impacts on both personal and environmental health. 


Contact: Becky Bittner,



What's New

The Era of Megafires, is on tour as a multimedia presentation featuring Paul Hessburg, who draws on his fire and landscape ecology research and that of many colleagues in presenting ideas about how we can shift our cultural views about fire. He emphasizes learning to co-exist with fire as a natural landscape process. With over 60 live presentations already, Hessburg has reached more than 12,000 people. The show has generated conversations and news coverage around the inland West. It also was recently adapted as a TEDx talk and delivered in Bend, Oregon. Twenty to 30 more events are planned so far. See the link below for tour dates and more information.


More information: The Era of Megafires




Improved BlueSky Daily Smoke Forecasts

BlueSky daily forecast products are improved with new daily fire information and better performance, allowing for both more accurate results and earlier availability to its users. These smoke forecasts are used in wildfire incident support nationwide and are a standard part of the Air Resource Advisor toolkit.


How to get it:

Contact: Sim Larkin,


Featured Scientist

Janice Reid.Wildlife biologist Janice Reid brings her dog to work sometimes. That’s because she trained her Labrador retriever, Eclipse, to find owl pellets, which tell her a lot about what owls are eating. Reid is based in Roseburg, Oregon, where she trains and oversees field crews and serves as project director for a long-term demographic study of the northern spotted owl. Since she began studying the spotted owl in 1983, Reid has helped contribute substantial information about its home range and habitat use. For example, she has studied the effects of habitat on owl survival and productivity. She helped with a comprehensive assessment of the status and trends of northern spotted owl populations throughout most of their geographic range. Spotted owls face competition for resources from the more aggressive barred owl. So some of Reid’s work has focused on the barred owl, including a study of how the presence of barred owls influences nest site occupancy of northern spotted owls.


To help improve and enhance data collection, Reid is also interested in finding ways to use new technology. She has experimented with tools such as digital callers and sound editing software, which are used to call owls in the field. She has studied the survival, reproduction, and body mass of radio-marked and non-radio-marked spotted owls to determine if backpack radios influenced reproduction or survival. In addition to all of this field work and research, Reid has been a champion at raising public awareness about owls, particularly with students. She frequently engages community college and high school students, teaching them about field work and possible natural resource career paths. Last year she was invited to India to share her expertise in forest-adapted owls with wildlife conservation groups there. She is a true wildlife biology ambassador!


US Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Research Station
Last Modified: Wednesday,14June2017 at15:25:12CDT

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