US Forest Service Research & Development
Contact Information
  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Outdoor Wheeling

Russell T. Graham

Research Forester
1221 South Main
United States

Phone: 208-883-2325
Contact Russell T. Graham

Current Research

My principle research involves understanding long-term forest productivity and landscape processes. My research studies include understanding the interaction of forest composition, structure, and disturbances of both dry (e.g., ponderosa pine) and moist forests (cedar/hemlock), determining fuel treatment efficacy for decreasing wildfire intensity and burn severity for cold (e.g., lodgepole), moist, and dry forests of the Rocky Mountains applicable from sites (stand) to landscapes, and determining the relations among snowshoe hare use, lynx presence, and forest composition and structure in cooperation with John Squires (RMRS). My research studies examine fuel treatment effectiveness during the Cascade Wildfires of central Idaho-2007: a 100-year fire event. I am also involved with research determining the relations among goshawk nest success, goshawk use (e.g., foraging), and forest structure and composition in cooperation with Rich Reynolds (RMRS) and Ron Rodriguez (R4).

Research Interests

Forests are dynamic and living constructs disturbed by a wide variety of native and introduced disturbances (e.g., fire, weather, insects, diseases) that result in highly heterogonous vegetative mosaics dispersed across an infinite number of biophysical settings. These forests also provide many goods and services that people of the world often depend on and cherish. As such my research interests are to produce understanding to this complexity and develop and package treatment alternatives (silvicultural systems) that can be used to sustain forests in the face of climate change while provide for the values that society demand.

Past Research

My research embraces the theoretical, methodological, and holistic attributes of forest management. I have integrated and synthesized disparate studies and assessments covering a wide number of disciplines including silviculture, forest ecology, soil organic materials, and wildfire to name a few into systems and provided understanding that is useful to land management actions, policies, and/or laws locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. The breadth of my work is not limited to one forest type or locale but transcends the dry (e.g., ponderosa pine), moist (e.g., western hemlock) and cold (e.g., boreal-subalpine fir) forests located throughout western North America. My innovative ways of characterizing dynamic forest landscapes and uniquely relating them to northern goshawk habitat are widely used throughout the western United States, Western Europe, and western Canada to inform forest management. I lead the Interior Columbia Basin Science Team in completing the largest natural resource assessment of this detail ever attempted in the World. I went on to lead the Utah goshawk, Hayman Fire, Warm Lake Fire, Fourmile Canyon Fire, and Black Hills goshawk assessments and a national team that synthesized the science applicable to treating forest fuels. I led the development of the coarse woody debris (CWD) recommendations that used ectomycorrhizae as a bio-indicator and integrated microbiology, decomposition, biophysical setting, and forest development to provide recommended amounts of CWD to maintain forest productivity after disturbance for forests extending from Mexico through southern British Colombia and Alberta, Canada. I have encouraged the field of silviculture, which tends to be timber management centric, to explore new areas and provide silvicultural solutions for a wide variety of management objectives. In particular, I refined the concept of irregular (free) selection. These systems maintain high forest cover and heterogeneous forest conditions that are relevant to many contemporary forest management issues such as Canadian lynx, northern goshawks, old-growth, and sense-of-place.

Why This Research is Important

Water, wildlife, fiber, sense-of-place, home sites, and many other forest values are important to US and World citizens. Wildfire is a common threat to both property and life and costs billions of dollars each year. The results and impacts of this line of research will have local to international relevance in providing knowledge to inform management decisions and policy actions that influence forest sustainability and the inherent values forests contain. The establishment and development of forests are long-term propositions and providing suggestions as to how they will develop along with disclosing the risks and uncertainties of their development is valuable to both present and future generations.


  • University of Montana, Missoula, B.S. Silviculture 1972
  • University of Idaho, Moscow, M.S. Silviculture 1977
  • University of Idaho, Moscow, Ph.D. Silviculture 1981

Professional Experience

  • Research Forester, Intermountain and now Rocky Mountain Research Station
    1975 - Current
  • Forester, Bitterroot National Forest, Darby, Montana
    1972 - 1975

Professional Organizations

  • Forest History Society, Full Member (2003 - Current)
  • National Smokejumper Association, Full Member (2000 - Current)
  • Soil Science Society of America, Full Member (1984 - Current)
  • University of Idaho, Adjunct Faculty (1979 - Current)
    I give frequent lectures, field trips, and laboratory exercises in silviculture, assessments, interaction of science, policy, management, planning, and related classes. Serve on Masters and PhD committees
  • Society of American Foresters (SAF), Full Member (1970 - Current)
  • Society of American Foresters (SAF), Co-Chair Program (2012 - 2012)
  • Society of American Foresters (SAF), Chair (2004 - 2006)
  • Northwest Scientific Association, Full Member (1976 - 2004)
  • Michigan Technological University, Adjunct Faculty (1984 - 1994)
    I give frequent lectures, field trips, and laboratory exercises in silviculture, assessments, interaction of science, policy, management, planning, and related classes. Serve on Masters and PhD committees.
  • Society of American Foresters (SAF), Chair (1981 - 1982)

Awards & Recognition

  • Society of American Foresters Award in Forest Science , 2011
    The Society of American Foresters Award in Forest Science recognizes distinguished individual research in any branch of the quantitative, managerial, and/or social sciences that has resulted in substantial advances in forestry.
  • University of Idaho College of Natural Resources Honor Alumni Award. , 2010
    This award is given to an alumnus who has a distinguished career in natural resources and is known regionally, nationally, and internationally for their work.
  • Wings Across Americas, 2006 Conservation Award. , 2006
    The Research and Management Partnership award, Ecology and Management of the Northern Goshawk in the American Southwest
  • Elected Fellow in the Society of American Foresters., 2006
    Society of American Foresters honors those members who have provided outstanding contributions to the Society and to the forestry profession with the title of Fellow
  • National Certificate of Merit, 2003
    Recognition of my role in the Healthy Forests Initiative during 2002-2003. In particular this award was given for my dedication and ability to operate on tight timeframes in a complex environment that made major contributions to the initiative.
  • Chief's Stewardship Award , 1991
    Iin recognition of outstanding stewardship accomplishments leading to the conservation of the soil, water, and air resources. Organics Research Team of the Intermountain Research Station, presented by Forest Service Chief F. Dale Robertson.
  • National Silviculture Award, 1991
    National award from National Forest Systems for outstanding research contributions to timber management.
  • International , 1988
    Outstanding contributions to, Simposo Cientifico Norteamerico, North American Science Symposium, Guadalajara, Mexico, presented by Hague Vaughan, Environment Canada, Denver Burns, U.S. Forest Service, and Ing. Jorge L., Mexico Environment.

Featured Publications & Products


Research Highlights


Big Trees, Bark Beetles, Goshawks, and Timber

Throughout the Rocky Mountains over the last century, large ponderosa pine trees provided lumber for growing cities and towns, along with fuel a ...


Experimental Forests: Great places to learn about forest science and management

Scientists used an experimental forest network to develop different management strategies and make science accessible for managers and other par ...


Goshawks, bark beetles, and timber management: Can they coexist?

Wildlife habitat and timber production are critical elements of the management of many national forests. The Black Hills National Forest in West ...


Managing forests and forest carnivores: Canada lynx and forest mosaics

Differences in forest structure impact the ability of Canada lynx to produce kittens. Therefore, understanding how forest management and silvicu ...


The 115 year Bark Beetle Saga in the Black Hills

This research chronicles the science, people, and destruction caused by mountain pine beetles primarily in the Black Hills of South Dakota and W ...


Last updated on : 03/23/2021