Archive for the ‘U.S. Forest Service’ Category

Raising native plants in nurseries: basic concepts

June 6, 2012 Comments off

Raising native plants in nurseries: basic concepts
Source: U.S. Forest Service

Growing native plants can be fun, challenging, and rewarding. This booklet, particularly the first chapter that introduces important concepts, is for the novice who wants to start growing native plants as a hobby; however, it can also be helpful to someone with a bit more experience who is wondering about starting a nursery. The second chapter provides basic information about collecting, processing, storing, and treating seeds. Chapter three focuses on using seeds to grow plants in the field or in containers using simple but effective techniques. For those native plants that reproduce poorly from seeds, the fourth chapter describes how to start native plants from cuttings. The final chapter provides valuable information on how to successfully move native plants from the nursery and establish them in their final planting location. Several appendices expand on what has been presented in the chapters, with more details and specific information about growing a variety of native plants.

Exploring the relationship between outdoor recreation activities, community participation, and environmental attitudes

March 22, 2012 Comments off

Exploring the relationship between outdoor recreation activities, community participation, and environmental attitudes
Source: U.S. Forest Service

The relationship between environmental attitudes (EA) and environmentally responsible behavior (ERB) has been the focus of several studies in environmental psychology and recreation research. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between EAs and ERBs at both a general level and at an activity-specific level using a 2009 survey of motorized recreationists (all-terrain vehicle (ATV) and off-highway vehicle (OHV) riders). Questions to measure general attitudes were adapted from the New Environmental Paradigm (NEP) and activity-specific environmental attitude questions were developed from the literature.

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Trends and causes of severity, size, and number of fires in northwestern California, USA

March 7, 2012 Comments off
Source:  U.S. Forest Service
Research in the last several years has indicated that fire size and frequency are on the rise in western U.S. forests. Although fire size and frequency are important, they do not necessarily scale with ecosystem effects of fire, as different ecosystems have different ecological and evolutionary relationships with fire. Our study assessed trends and patterns in fire size and frequency from 1910 to 2008 (all fires > 40 ha), and the percentage of high-severity in fires from 1987 to 2008 (all fires > 400 ha) on the four national forests of northwestern California. During 1910–2008, mean and maximum fire size and total annual area burned increased, but we found no temporal trend in the percentage of high-severity fire during 1987–2008. The time series of severity data was strongly influenced by four years with region-wide lightning events that burned huge areas at primarily low–moderate severity. Regional fire rotation reached a high of 974 years in 1984 and fell to 95 years by 2008. The percentage of high-severity fire in conifer-dominated forests was generally higher in areas dominated by smaller-diameter trees than in areas with larger-diameter trees. For Douglas-fir forests, the percentage of highseverity fire did not differ significantly between areas that re-burned and areas that only burned once (10% vs. 9%) when re-burned within 30 years. Percentage of high-severity fire decreased to 5% when intervals between first and second fires were .30 years. In contrast, in both mixed-conifer and fir/high-elevation conifer forests, the percentage of high-severity fire was less when re-burned within 30 years compared to first-time burned (12% vs. 16% for mixed conifer; 11% vs. 19% for fir/high-elevation conifer). Additionally, the percentage of highseverity fire did not differ whether the re-burn interval was less than or greater than 30 years. Years with larger fires and greatest area burned were produced by region-wide lightning events, and characterized by less winter and spring precipitation than years dominated by smaller human-ignited fires. Overall percentage of high-severity fire was generally less in years characterized by these region-wide lightning events. Our results suggest that, under certain conditions, wildfires could be more extensively used to achieve ecological and management objectives in northwestern California.

Full Paper (PDF)

See: Study of Wildfire Trends in Northwestern California Shows No Increase in Severity Over Time (Science Daily)

Study: Nation’s urban forests losing ground

February 27, 2012 Comments off

Study: Nation’s urban forests losing ground
Source: U.S. Forest Service

National results indicate that tree cover in urban areas of the United States is declining at a rate of about 4 million trees per year, according to a U.S. Forest Service study published recently in Urban Forestry & Urban Greening.

A scenic picture of a person walking through a forest.

Tree cover in 17 of the 20 cities analyzed in the study declined while 16 cities saw increases in impervious cover, which includes pavement and rooftops. Land that lost trees was for the most part converted to either grass or ground cover, impervious cover or bare soil.

Of the 20 cities analyzed, the greatest percentage of annual loss in tree cover occurred in New Orleans, Houston and Albuquerque. Researchers expected to find a dramatic loss of trees in New Orleans and said that it is most likely due to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Tree cover ranged from a high of 53.9 percent in Atlanta to a low of 9.6 percent in Denver while total impervious cover varied from 61.1 percent in New York City to 17.7 percent in Nashville. Cities with the greatest annual increase in impervious cover were Los Angeles, Houston and Albuquerque.

“Our urban forests are under stress, and it will take all of us working together to improve the health of these crucial green spaces,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell.  “Community organizations and municipal planners can use i-Tree to analyze their own tree cover, and determine the best species and planting spots in their neighborhoods. It’s not too late to restore our urban forests – the time is now to turn this around.”

The benefits derived from urban trees provide a return three times greater than tree care costs, as much as $2,500 in environmental services such as reduced heating and cooling costs during a tree’s lifetime.

Forest researchers David Nowak and Eric Greenfield of the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Research Station used satellite imagery to find that tree cover is decreasing at a rate of about 0.27 percent of land area per year in U.S. cities, which is equivalent to about 0.9 percent of existing urban tree cover being lost annually.

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A synopsis of the wood-based energy and heating industries in the northeastern United States with consideration of potential impacts on future demand for roundwood

September 15, 2011 Comments off

A synopsis of the wood-based energy and heating industries in the northeastern United States with consideration of potential impacts on future demand for roundwood
Source: U.S. Forest Service

The project team identified 323 facilities in the northeastern United States that input pulpwood or “energy wood.” Of these, 88 are located in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, part of the central hardwood forest region. In the 13-state northeastern region, 81 percent of the facilities that use pulp-type roundwood produce an energy-related product. For the three states that are part of the central hardwood forest, 75 percent of the facilities are in business to produce an energy product while the other 25 percent produce a more traditional product (e.g., pulp, oriented strand board). The 323 operations identified in the Northeast potentially consume 40.6 million tons (50-percent moisture content) of wood per year, of which 12.5 million tons is consumed in the three central hardwood states. Forest resource concentrations and levels of industrialization suggest that collection of data on future woody biomass demand be focused on five key states: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, and Pennsylvania. Small-scale bioenergy projects pose no real threat of significantly reducing the general supply of woody biomass in the Northeast. The ongoing decline in pulp and paper production together with the apparent decline in other traditional woody biomass-using industries, will relieve the pressure on the woody biomass resource. Assuming a normal and expected evolution of events, woody biomass consumption in the region will increase by roughly 25 percent over the next decade. The variable that could most affect the woody biomass resource is the future direction of electricity production from wood and co-firing of wood in coal power plants, especially in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio.

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Forest composition change in the eastern United States

September 14, 2011 Comments off

Forest composition change in the eastern United States
Source: U.S. Forest Service

Forest ecosystems in the eastern United States are believed to be experiencing a species composition change, but most evidence is anecdotal or localized. We used U.S. Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis data to quantify the annual changes of three common genera: Acer (maple), carya (hickory), and Quercus (oak) with survey periods between 8 and 20 years across the eastern United States. The majority of the region had an increase in maple abundance. At the same time, hickories and oaks had a near universal decrease in the Central Hardwood region.

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U.S. Forest Service Visitor’s Report Shows Strong Continued Economic Impact and Customer Satisfaction of America’s National Forests and Grasslands

August 12, 2011 Comments off

U.S. Forest Service Visitor’s Report Shows Strong Continued Economic Impact and Customer Satisfaction of America’s National Forests and Grasslands
Source: U.S. Forest Service

Recreational activities on national forests and grasslands continue to make large economic impacts on America’s rural communities, contributing $14.5 billion annually to the U.S. economy.

According to the National Visitor Use Monitoring report released today by Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, national forests attracted 170.8 million recreational visitors and sustained approximately 223,000 jobs in rural communities this past year.

National forests also provide economic relief for vacationers. Fewer than half of the U.S. Forest Service’s 17,000 developed sites charge any fees for visitors. The report reveals that 94 percent of visitors were satisfied with their experience on the national forests.

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US Forest Service opens Sacred Sites Report for public comment

August 10, 2011 Comments off

US Forest Service opens Sacred Sites Report for public comment
Source: U.S. Forest Service

The U.S. Forest Service has opened for public comment through the Federal Register a draft report that outlines its policies and procedures on Indian Sacred Sites.

The 60-day comment window follows on-going dialogue between the Forest Service and Tribal representatives on Sacred Sites. The Forest Service will accept public comments on the draft report while honoring its responsibility to consult with Indian Tribes.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack requested an internal review and consultation with Tribes to determine if existing law, regulations and policies affecting Sacred Sites provide a consistent level of protection.

“I cannot overemphasize the value of government-to-government consultations with the Tribes,” said Vilsack. “These discussions continue to produce information critical to developing land management strategies that respect and protect America’s sacred lands.”

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Managing wildfire events: risk-based decision making among a group of federal fire managers

August 4, 2011 Comments off

Managing wildfire events: risk-based decision making among a group of federal fire managers
Source: U.S. Forest Service

Managing wildfire events to achieve multiple management objectives involves a high degree of decision complexity and uncertainty, increasing the likelihood that decisions will be informed by experience-based heuristics triggered by available cues at the time of the decision. The research reported here tests the prevalence of three risk-based biases among 206 individuals in the USDA Forest Service with authority to choose how to manage a wildfire event (i.e., line officers and incident command personnel). The results indicate that the subjects exhibited loss aversion, choosing the safe option more often when the consequences of the choice were framed as potential gains, but this tendency was less pronounced among those with risk seeking attitudes. The subjects also exhibited discounting, choosing to minimize short-term over long-term risk due to a belief that future risk could be controlled, but this tendency was less pronounced among those with more experience. Finally, the subjects, in particular those with more experience, demonstrated a status quo bias, choosing suppression more often when their reported status quo was suppression. The results of this study point to a need to carefully construct the decision process to ensure that the uncertainty and conflicting objectives inherent in wildfire management do not result in the overuse of common heuristics. Individual attitudes toward risk or an agency culture of risk aversion may counterbalance such heuristics, whereas increased experience may lead to overconfident intuitive judgments and a failure to incorporate new and relevant information into the decision.

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Rebound from steep drop in demand amid simmering global trade issues : markets for paper, paperboard and woodpulp, 2009-2010

July 26, 2011 Comments off

Rebound from steep drop in demand amid simmering global trade issues : markets for paper, paperboard and woodpulp, 2009-2010
Source: U.S Forest Service

Paper and paperboard consumption declined sharply in 2009 by 9% in Europe and 10% in the United States relative to 2008; just a fraction of that decline was recovered by early 2010. Pulp and paper commodity prices fell in 2009, dropping well below 2008 price levels, but prices began to stabilize by mid-year, and in some cases fully recovered by early 2010. A wave of capacity withdrawals in the form of mill downtime and shutdowns helped stabilize the market balance between product supply and demand. Pulp prices were boosted also by shutdowns of Chilean pulp capacity due to the devastating earthquake in February 2010, and by expanding woodpulp demand in Asia, particularly in China. Global market trends point to a secular shift of growth in paper and paperboard output to Asia, while production has levelled out and declined in Europe and North America. Global trade issues were simmering in 2010: the European Union launched anti-dumping and anti-subsidy probes in 2010 concerning coated paper imports from China; the US imposed preliminary countervailing duties on coated paper imports from China and Indonesia. In 2009, Russian Federation exports of market pulp and packaging paper products to China declined as China’s export demand shrank with the global economic crisis. In central and eastern Europe, reduced production due to the downturn in demand from the global economic crisis in early 2009, with production returning to normal levels later in the year. Central and eastern Europe increasingly is becoming incorporated into EU procedures and policies and therefore developments, e.g. costs are similar to the rest of Europe. Green energy production subsidies are a serious threat for the pulp and paper industry in Europe due to strong competition for raw materials.

Wood supply and demand

July 23, 2011 Comments off

Wood supply and demand
Source: U.S. Forest Service

At times in history, there have been concerns that demand for wood (timber) would be greater than the ability to supply it, but that concern has recently dissipated. The wood supply and demand situation has changed because of market transitions, economic downturns, and continued forest growth. This article provides a concise overview of this change as it relates to the United States, looking at nationwide trends in the pulp and paper sector and the solid wood and composite wood product sectors (lumber and wood panels) and also nationwide trends in timber growth, timber removals, and real prices for timber.

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Toward understanding the ecological impact of transportation corridors

July 13, 2011 Comments off

Toward understanding the ecological impact of transportation corridors
Source: U.S. Forest Service

Transportation corridors (notably roads) affect wildlife habitat, populations, and entire ecosystems. Considerable effort has been expended to quantify direct effects of roads on wildlife populations and ecological communities and processes. Much less effort has been expended toward quantifying indirect effects. In this report, we provide a comprehensive review of road/transportation corridor ecology; in particular, how this new field of ecology has advanced worldwide. Further, we discuss how research thus far has shaped our understanding and views of the ecological implications of transportation infrastructures, and, in turn, how this has led to the current guidance, policies, and management options. We learned that the impacts of transportation infrastructures are a global issue, with the potential to affect a wide variety of taxonomically diverse species and ecosystems. Because the majority of research to date has focused on the direct and more aesthetic and anthropocentric implications of transportation corridors, mainly wildlife-vehicle collisions, it is a fairly standard practice to incorporate underpasses, green bridges (i.e., overpasses), fencing, and barriers into road corridors to alleviate such impacts. Few studies, however, have been able to demonstrate the efficiency of these structures. Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly evident that the indirect implications of transportation infrastructures (i.e., behavioral responses of wildlife individuals to roads) may be more pervasive, at least from the standpoint of biological diversity. Understanding how road corridors influence the functional connectivity of landscapes is crucial if we are to effectively manage species of concern. With these issues in mind, we propose a program of study that addresses the indirect and cumulative implications of transportation infrastructure on species distributions, community structure and ecosystem function.

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Bee Basics: An Introduction to Our Native Bees

July 3, 2011 Comments off

Bee Basics: An Introduction to Our Native Bees (PDF)
Source: U.S. Forest Service

Native bees are a hidden treasure. From alpine meadows in the national forests of the Rocky Mountains to the Sonoran Desert in the Coronado National Forest in Arizona and from the boreal forests of the Tongass National Forest in Alaska to the Ocala National Forest in Florida, bees can be found anywhere in North America, where flowers bloom. From forests to farms, from cities to wildlands, there are 4,000 native bee species in the United States, from the tiny Perdita minima to large carpenter bees.

Most people do not realize that there were no honey bees in America before European settlers brought hives from Europe. These resourceful animals promptly managed to escape from domestication. As they had done for millennia in Europe and Asia, honey bees formed swarms and set up nests in hollow trees. Native pollinators, especially bees other than honey bees, have been pollinating the continent’s flowering plants since long before the arrival of honey bees. Even in today’s vastly altered landscapes, they continue to do the yeomen’s share of pollination, especially when it comes to native plants.

The honey bee, remarkable as it is, does not know how to pollinate tomato or eggplant flowers. It does very poorly compared to native bees when pollinating many native plants, such as pumpkins, cherries, blueberries, and cranberries. Let us take a closer look at this forgotten treasure of native bees.

Combined effects of heat waves and droughts on avian communities across the conterminous United States

June 29, 2011 Comments off

Combined effects of heat waves and droughts on avian communities across the conterminous United States
Source: U.S. Forest Service

Increasing surface temperatures and climatic variability associated with global climate change are expected to produce more frequent and intense heat waves and droughts in many parts of the world. Our goal was to elucidate the fundamental, but poorly understood, effects of these extreme weather events on avian communities across the conterminous United States. Specifically, we explored: (1) the effects of timing and duration of heat and drought events, (2) the effects of jointly occurring drought and heat waves relative to these events occurring in isolation, and (3) how effects vary among functional groups related to nest location and migratory habit, and among ecoregions with differing precipitation and temperature regimes. Using data from remote sensing, meteorological stations, and the North American Breeding Bird Survey, we used mixed effects models to quantify responses of overall and functional group abundance to heat waves and droughts (occurring alone or in concert) at two key periods in the annual cycle of birds: breeding and post-fledging. We also compared responses among species with different migratory and nesting characteristics, and among 17 ecoregions of the conterminous United States. We found large changes in avian abundances related to 100-year extreme weather events occurring in both breeding and post-fledging periods, but little support for an interaction among time periods. We also found that jointly-, rather than individually-occurring heat waves and droughts were both more common and more predictive of abundance changes. Declining abundance was the only significant response to post-fledging events, while responses to breeding period events were larger but could be positive or negative. Negative responses were especially frequent in the western U.S., and among ground-nesting birds and Neotropical migrants, with the largest single-season declines (36%) occurring among ground-nesting birds in the desert Southwest. These results indicate the importance of functional traits, timing, and geography in determining avian responses to weather extremes. Because dispersal to other regions appears to be an important avian response, it may be essential to maintain habitat refugia in a more climatically variable future.

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Perceptions of firms within a cluster regarding the cluster’s function and success: Amish furniture manufacturing in Ohio

June 27, 2011 Comments off

Perceptions of firms within a cluster regarding the cluster’s function and success: Amish furniture manufacturing in Ohio
Source: U.S. Forest Service

The Amish-based furniture manufacturing cluster in and around Holmes County, OH, is home to some 400 shops and has become an important regional driver of demand for hardwood products. The cluster has expanded even as the broader domestic furniture industry has declined. Clustering dynamics are seen as important to the success, but little information has been available to assess the perceptions of firms operating within the cluster. The present study asked manufacturers to rate the importance of several factors to making the Holmes County region a good place to be in business. Common actions taken by these firms, and the information sources most commonly used, also were evaluated. A reputation for high-quality products was rated as critical to the cluster’s success, followed by access to suppliers and manufacturing services. It was somewhat common to outsource components from other local shops, to use other vendors for computer numeric control work, and to refer potential customers to other local shops when better equipped for an order. Firms within the cluster were close to their customers, as conversations with customers was rated the most common source of information to learn about furniture industry trends. Word of mouth from other local shops also was somewhat important. These results demonstrated the importance of repeated interaction among the numerous shops, and also showed the importance individual firms placed on maintaining the reputation for high-quality products coming from the cluster. The unique mix of cooperation and competition has resulted in a model of competitiveness in wood furniture manufacturing.

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Understanding the challenges of municipal tree planting

June 24, 2011 Comments off

Understanding the challenges of municipal tree planting
Source: U.S. Forest Service

Nine of the twelve largest cities in the U.S. have mayoral tree planting initiatives (TPIs), with pledges to plant nearly 20 million trees. Although executive-level support for trees has never been this widespread, many wonder if this support will endure as administrations change and budgets tighten. In an effort to share lessons learned from successes and setbacks, a workshop was held in Los Angeles, California, to “troubleshoot” the TPI process, recognizing that managing the politics of trees is often more challenging than planting trees. A primary goal in this effort was to create a “Community of Practice” that will provide longterm support for managers of existing and emerging TPIs. The twoday workshop (June 3-4, 2010) brought together 24 individuals representing 20 municipalities who were primarily responsible for managing TPIs. This article summarizes the most important findings from the workshop.

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See also: Tools for valuing tree and park services

See also: Trees are good, but…

Tree rings and the local environment

June 22, 2011 Comments off

Tree rings and the local environment
Source: U.S. Forest Service

The amount of wood produced by a tree each year depends on tree condition, genetic programming, and growing conditions. Wood is mature xylem, the result of inward cell divisions by the vascular cambium, the new cell generator located between the wood and the inner bark (phloem). In temperate climatic zones, where a spring and summer growing season alternates with winter dormancy, the vascular cambium usually produces a single layer or increment of wood each year. Tree rings are annual growth layers seen in cross section. In Mediterranean dry and tropical climates, rings of earlywood are formed when seasonal moisture is available and may not be strictly annual. Tropical trees also produce wood in flushes of growth but usually do not produce rings that can be easily correlated with the calendar. The formation of latewood in tropical species is sometimes associated with environmental changes, such as el Niño and la Niña cycles.

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Effects of natural gas development on forest ecosystems

June 17, 2011 Comments off

Effects of natural gas development on forest ecosystems
Source: U.s. Forest Service

In 2004, an energy company leased the privately owned minerals that underlie the Fernow Experimental Forest in West Virginia. The Fernow, established in 1934, is dedicated to long-term research. In 2008, a natural gas well was drilled on the Fernow and a pipeline and supporting infrastructure constructed. We describe the impacts of natural gas development on the natural resources of the Fernow, and develop recommendations for landowners and land managers based on our experiences. Some of the effects (forest clearing, erosion, road damage) were expected and predictable, and some were unexpected (vegetation death from land application of fluids, an apparent increase in white-tailed deer presence). Although this is a case study, and therefore the results and conclusions are not applicable to all hardwood forests, information about gas development impacts is sufficiently rare that forest managers, research scientists, and the concerned public can learn from our experience.

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Thermal pollution in rivers: Will adding gravel help to cool them down?

June 2, 2011 Comments off

Thermal pollution in rivers: Will adding gravel help to cool them down?
Source: U.S. Forest Service

Thermal pollution in rivers can be caused by dams, logging, municipal wastewater treatment, and other human activities. High water termperatures stress ecosystems, kill fish, and promote disease and parasites, and so dam operators, timber companies, and municipalities are held responsible for thermal loading caused by their operations. These entities are looking for ways to mitigate environmental damage. When Portland General Electric (PGE) was applying for re-licensing of its extensive hydroelectric project on the Clackamas River in Oregon, questions were raised about whether the company’s existing plans to improve fish habitat on the lower river by adding gravel into the channel to replace lost sediment would also help to bring maximum summer water temperatures within regulatory limits.

A study co-led by a PNW Research Station scientist provided critical information to PGE–and the 33 interested parties that signed off on its re-licensing agreement–about how river overall temperatures are affected as water flows through naturally occuring gravel bars. The research showed that although water emerging from gravel bars tends to be cooler than the main channel, gravel augmentation alone is unlikely to cool the whole river. It could still provide positive benefits, however, by increasing the number of cool spots for fish to hide during the hottest part of the day.

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Faces from the past: profiles of those who led restoration of the South’s forests

May 28, 2011 Comments off

Faces from the past: profiles of those who led restoration of the South’s forests
Source: U.S. Forest Service

Early in the 20th century, the forests in the South were devastated by aggressive harvesting and many millions of acres of forest land needed reforestation. Foresighted individuals began a committed effort to restore this land to a productive condition. This effort required dedication, cooperation, and leadership. A small cadre of individuals led the restoration of the South’s forests that became the basis of the South’s economy. Many of these individuals are profiled in this document.

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