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Science Bulletins & Newsletters

Historically, the ponderosa and dry mixed-conifer forests of the Colorado Front Range were more open and grassy, and trees of all size classes were found in a grouped arrangement with sizable openings between the clumps. As a legacy of fire suppression, today’s forests are denser, with smaller trees. Proactive restoration of this forest type will help to reduce fuel loads and the risk of large and severe wildfires in the Colorado Front Range.
In this issue of the GSD Update, we feature selected studies of the RMRS Grassland, Shrubland and Desert Ecosystems Science Program (GSD) that focus on the theme of fire. Significant results of recent research and science delivery by GSD scientists are highlighted. We feature program research that lines up with the strategic priorities and goals of the USDA Forest Service (USFS).
In this issue, we cover new research on wide-ranging topics from the longterm effects of drought on competition between native and invasive plant species, to the effects of drought on pollinator visitation to invasive plants, to a novel use of insect pheromones to improve biocontrol of invasive saltcedar.
Biological soil crusts are a complex of microscopic organisms growing on the soil surface in many arid and semi-arid ecosystems. These crusts perform the important role of stabilizing soil and reducing or eliminating water and wind erosion. One of the largest threats to biological soil crusts in the arid and semi-arid areas of the western United States is mechanical disturbance from vehicle traffic and grazing.
In this issue of the GSD Update, we take a look back at selected studies of the Grassland, Shrubland and Desert Ecosystems Science Program (GSD) that depict its strengths and focus areas. Significant results of recent research and science delivery by GSD scientists are highlighted. We feature program research that lines up with the strategic priorities of the USDA Forest Service and the Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS).
This newsletter is designed to keep managers and other users up-to-date with recently completed and ongoing research by RMRS scientists, as well as to highlight breaking news related to invasive species issues.
Wilderness management can be tricky. The conservationist Aldo Leopold, who is considered by many to be the father of wildlife ecology and the U.S. wilderness system, was probably thinking about this when he said, “All conservation of wildness is self-defeating, for to cherish we must Wilderness managers in North Cascades National Park opted for chemical treatments to remove invasive fish species.
It has been 5 years since the High Park Fire burned over 85,000 acres in Northern Colorado, causing extensive property damage, loss of life, and severe impacts to the water quality of the Poudre River. In the fall of 2016, a conference was organized by the USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station and the Coalition for the Poudre River Watershed to discuss what has been learned about our response to the fire.
Scientists and statisticians working for the Rocky Mountain Research Station have created a software package that simplifies and automates many of the processes needed for converting models into maps. This software package, called ModelMap, has helped a variety of specialists and land managers to quickly convert data into easily understood graphical images. The software package also includes methods to test for accuracy.
White pine blister rust has been spreading through western forests since 1910, causing widespread mortality in a group that includes some of the oldest and highest-elevation pines in the United States. The disease has recently reached Colorado and is expected to travel through the southern Rockies.

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