Oregon State University

U.S. Department of the Interior Makes an Impact

Oregon State University researchers are successfully using U.S. Department of the Interior support to  protect America’s great outdoors and power our future.

USDOI support for OSU research during Fiscal Years 2008- 2012 totaled over $28 Million, with almost $7 Million in FY12 alone. more data

Here are examples of how USDOI funds make a difference


Climate ScienceEarth Watch satellite facility

In 2010, the DOI /U.S. Geological Survey established the Northwest Climate Science Center, a consortium hosted by OSU, to help inform policy decisions by federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations and others. OSU offers resources of the nation's top-ranked conservation biology program, nationally ranked programs in fish and wildlife research, rapidly growing applied climate research, and extensive connections to landscape and species management agencies.


Oceans and Coastlines

Tripod set up for research in oceanIn assessing vulnerability of U.S. shorelines, USGS has partnered with OSU to understand the response of fragile coasts to storm and hurricane hazards - including the feedbacks by which an eroding nearshore alters storm waves. The Coastal Imaging Lab at OSU, led by Rob Holman of the College of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, has pioneered the development of quantitative nearshore monitoring using the optical processing methods of the Argus Program, invented at OSU with funding from USGS and currently used worldwide.


Oregon’s Territorial Sea Plan guides efforts to protect both natural and economic resources. Essential to this are spatially specific data products to inform mapping of the marine environment. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement partnered with OSU’s Institute for Natural Resources on the recent Coastal and Marine Data Network Workshop, which helped establish a network of content providers, tool developers and users to better assist state and federal agencies local government and NGOs, with a reliable distributed infrastructure for data.


The Institute for Water and Watersheds (IWW), one of the oldest water research institutes in the U.S. sponsored by the US Geological Survey under the Water Resources Research Act, is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2011. With over 125 OSU faculty engaged in the tradition of collaboration that Oregon is famous for, it is the interdisciplinary hub of research, outreach, and education for the wider community. Innovative ways to engage stakeholders have included conferences on aquifer storage and recovery, impacts to water resources by domestic wells, and the need for development of a statewide water plan. IWW cultivates the next generation of water scientists and engineers through a graduate program dedicated to water resources science, engineering, policy and management, as well as K-"gray" teacher training.

Water Before Anything, a documentary made by an OSU graduate student  thanks to the USGS Small Grants program, tells of volunteer work on a  far-reaching plan to enhance and protect groundwater in the Umatilla  Basin. With a message about crises, and collaboration towards solutions for the preservation of communities, the video has been shared with Oregon legislators, and distributed in response to over 400 inquiries  communities worldwide.

The U.S. Institute for the Environment (SUSIE) program sponsored by USAID brought 23 undergraduates from Central America and the Caribbean  to OSU for a training of water in environmental sciences, public  health, engineering, policy and governance lead by the Institute for  Water and Watersheds, the USGS-funded water resources research  institute. Students returned home with tools to create understanding  the environment's role in ensuring quality of life.



Barred Owl in tree, from USGS press release.Barred owls, expanding into the Pacific Northwest, are likely competing with northern spotted owls for food and nesting habitat – an issue with broad implications for the recovery of the federally threatened species. DOI/USGS has been major sponsor of a multiagency project investigating the competive relationship between the 2 owl species; additional funding has been from DOI/Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. David Wiens, an OSU doctoral student, was lead author of the study and is a USGS scientist.


The lab of Dan Roby of Fisheries and Wildlife at OSU uses energetics and nutritional approaches to understand and help resolve wildlife management issues. His DOI/USGS projects include an analysis of long-term changes in marine bird populations due to the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Roby has also conducted a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-sponsored satellite telemetry study of endangered short-tailed albatrosses. Focus on oceanic habitat, foraging, and potential conflicts with fisheries has led to understanding of response to spatial and temporal variability in the pelagic environment.


Carl Schreck of OSU's Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, honored for a 2008 DOI Presidential Award and 2003 DOI Meritorious Service Award, focuses on environmental  and reproductive physiology of fish.  His work has increased understanding of how organisms respond to stressors in the wild and in the hatchery, and has had substantial impact on recovery and conservation plans for endangered species, management of dams, and aquaculture tools concerning spawning and disease prevention. 


Healthy salmon populations offer economic, ecological, recreational, cultural, social and aesthetic benefits for humans. Michael Banks, director of the Cooperative Institute for Marine Resouces Studies, makes significant contributions  toward successful salmon management. One project funded by USGS evaluated reproductive success and fitness of  outplanted hatchery Chinook, which help increase abundance, productivity, and diversity of naturally produced fish. With Fish and Wildlife Service support, Banks has used innovative methods with microsatellites to do DNA analysis of juvenile winter and spring run salmon, crucial because of hybridization due to human alterations to habitat.



St. Elias



How and why are parks and their greater ecosystems changing? How can remote sensing help monitor aspects of the landscape? Zhiqiang Yang of OSU's Forest Ecosystem and Society, in collaboration with National Parks Service Sierra Nevada Network,  has developed a landscape dynamics monitoring protocol that is finding answers. Detection of change related to vegetation, snow cover, fire events, insect damage, and other vital signs will inform long-term management.




Ecosystem Commons

In the recently launched Ecosystem Commons, participants around the country discuss ideas, showcase projects, review tools, and create private workspaces. The multi-faceted arena of ecosystem services is dynamic and rapidly evolving, so the collaboration and adaptive learning opportunities provided by the Commons are critical to social, ecological, economic, and political advances. USGS  helped fund the Commons; Institute for Natural Resources/Sally Duncan is the project lead with Rob Fiegener and Julie Risien as the project team.  


Filling the Gaps

Eleanor Gaines of the Institute for Natural Resources is PI on a project that helps converse biological diversity by identify areas with level of species richness and low levels (gaps)  of conservation management. Created with partners is several Pacific Northwest states, the ReGap maps provide significant improvement in ability to predict habitat use and are used by land managers to help identify biodiversity hotspots, effective lands for conservation, and species groups inadequately protected.



The number of adult Western Snowy Plovers in Oregon has grown from about 50 in the early 1990’s to about 230 in 2010, thanks to INR’s Oregon Biodiversity Information Center (ORBIC) and the many state and federal partners involved in the recovery of the Plover. ORBIC coordinates monitoring of the threatened shorebird. Funds from US Fish and Wildlife Service, are used to assess nest and fledging success, install nest exclosures, assist in erecting protective ropes and signs, and keep cooperators informed.


And More -  Examples of current DOI-funded projects being conducted by OSU researchers (as of Fall 2011)

Future Forest Fire Regimes

John Campbell of the Department of Forest Ecosystems & Society is working on  “Modeling Climate Change Effects on Future Forest Fire Regimes in the Intermountain West,”  funded by USGS  Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center.


Restoration of Forests

John Bailey of Forest Engineering, Resources and Management is lead PI on a Bureau of Land Management-sponsored study of  fire regimes, forest change and restoration of forested plant associations in Oregon’s Middle Applegate Watershed.  Outcomes will help to identify and determine applicability of restoration activities, and balance potential short-term compromises with long-term forest health and resilience.



Department of the Interior Funding to OSU


DoI Bureaus

Award Total



Bureau of Indian Affairs

Bureau of Land Management   $1,321,738  
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement   $3,413  
Bureau of Reclamation  $176,805  
National Park Service $934,570   
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  $257,672  
U.S. Geological Survey   $1,071,548
Minerals Management Service $1,046,804  
Oregon Dept of Fish & Wildlife $96,802  
Other $1,119,305  
TOTAL   $6,636,763

Contact Info

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