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Environment and People


Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment in Support of Front Range National Forests and Colorado National Grasslands for Forest Plan Revision, Plan Amendments, and Project-Level Planning.
In a collaboration with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Wildland Fire Sensor Challenge was conducted to solicit and evaluate next-generation air measurement technology in pursuit of an easy to deploy, reliable, and accurate on-demand smoke monitoring network. During the initial phase of the challenge, three prototype systems were identified for further development and testing. Second generation sensors will be evaluated by the USFS/EPA research team in spring 2019.
Located on the Sierra Ancha Experimental Forest, this project uses a common garden approach to determine which plant species are best suited for supporting pollinator communities and are most appropriate for restoration activities. Findings from the study will be used to 1) improve pollinator habitat, 2) increase seed stocks of native flowering species for use in restoration, 3) inform U.S. seed zone guidelines and 4) help predict plant-pollinator response to climate change. This carries on a long tradition at the Sierra Ancha Experimental Forest of using common gardens in botanical research. As far back as the 1920s and 30s common gardens were used to study evapotranspiration rates of native herbaceous and shrub species as well as evaluate the potential use of certain species for erosion control. Some of these the same gardens are now being restored nearly a century later for use in this study.
This project incorporates historical data collected at the Sierra Ancha Experimental Forest nearly 100 years ago to determine how plant communities have changed over that period of time.
The research objective is to develop western white pine management strategies focused on regeneration establishment and young forest development by 1) developing canopy opening size thresholds where western white pine can establish and grow, 2) developing alternative tending methods to enable managers to continue to manage western white pine plantations, 3) evaluating plantation resilience to wildfire, and 4) evaluating understory plant diversity under 30-year or older western white pine plantations.  
Through fire management and riparian ecosystem restoration RMRS researchers Terrie Jain, Kate Dwire, and Travis Warziniack are partnering with the University of Idaho and the Idaho City Ranger District to develop, implement, and evaluate different adaptive management strategies to improve the fire resiliency of the Boise National Forest. 
Storage of atmospheric carbon is an important ecosystem service of healthy forests and woodlands because it mitigates the effects of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. International reporting of this service places a premium on the specificity and precision of monitoring data used to estimate carbon storage or emission. An inventory of land cover change is a critical component of most national-level accounting systems, and the Landsat series of satellites is a uniquely positioned to provide this land cover change “activity data.” In Eastern Africa, there are already high-quality Landsat-based cover maps for 2 or 3 points in time. However, these maps do not provide the annual land cover change information needed for higher-tier IPCC reporting, and land cover changes inferred from independent maps at different dates cannot easily be assigned a level of uncertainty.
Deforestation in Haiti is well documented, with an estimated original forest cover remaining of approximately 1%. This widespread deforestation is primarily a result of hundreds of years of spreading subsistence agriculture and cutting for cooking fuel. Most of the remnant stands of original forest cover in Haiti are highly fragmented, with the last remnants primarily found in Massif de la Hotte mountain range of the southwest. This area has been identified as a Key Biodiversity Area (KBA).
North American Forest Dynamics (NAFD) project is exploiting the Landsat historical record to develop a quantitative understanding of forest disturbance patterns across the conterminous US.
The Landscape Change Monitoring System (LCMS) is an emerging remote sensing-based system for mapping and monitoring land cover and land use change across the US. Envisioned as a framework for integrating Landsat-based products and other datasets, LCMS  is producing spatially, temporally, and thematically comprehensive data and information from which landscape change can be consistently assessed, documented, and analyzed at the national scale.