OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

college of forestry

Students receive forestry scholarships

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Scholarships totaling $516,500 have been awarded to Oregon State University undergraduate students in the College of Forestry. The scholarships are made possible by gifts to the college.

Recipients of scholarships for the 2012-2013 academic year include:

Albany             ShyAnne Woods, a junior in natural resources, received a $3000 DeMuth Forestry Scholarship and a $3000 Gordon & Priscilla Duncan Scholarship

Alsea               Brandon Hendrix, a post-baccalaureate student in forest management, received a $7000 Oregon Forest Industries Council Scholarship

Aumsville        Jarrid Raney, a junior in renewable materials, received a $3000 Richardson Scholarship

Bend               Lucas Glick, a senior in forest management, received a $2600 Vance & Dorothy Shugart Scholarship, a $1400 T.J. and Margaret O. Starker Memorial Scholarship, and a $1000 Wakefield Family Scholarship; Kelly Regan, a sophomore in natural resources, received a $4000 Forestry Legacy Scholarship; Kimberly Wesseler, a senior in natural resources, received a $7000 Gordon & Priscilla Duncan Scholarship; Margie Wilson, a junior in natural resources, received a $4000 Gordon and Priscilla Duncan Scholarship

Bonanza          Rebecca Armstrong, a renewable materials freshman, received a $2000 Robert Aufderheide Scholarship and a $2000 Campbell Group Scholarship

Brownsville     Alyssa Weger, a junior in recreation resource management, received a $7000 Glenn and Josephine Thompson Scholarship and a $1500 Schutz Family Education “Forestry Ambassador” Scholarship

Buxton              Jacob Hilger, a senior in forest management, received a $7000 Larry Hoffman Scholarship in Wildland and Ecosystem Health

Canby              Katherine Nichols, a junior in forest engineering, received a $4500 Charles Lord Scholarship, a $1500 Alkire Scantlebury Scholarship, and a $1000 Bart Thielges Memorial Scholarship

Central Point  Brandon White, a junior in renewable materials, received a $1250 Lois and Dick Kearns Scholarship, a $3000 Billie J. Larson Scholarship, and a $3000 Richardson Scholarship

Coos Bay        Bryan Feger, a senior in forest engineering, received a $4000 C. Wylie Smith Scholarship and a $7000 Dorothy D. Hoener Memorial Scholarship; Tasha Livingstone, a senior in forest management, received a $7000 Dorothy D. Hoener Memorial Scholarship and a $1500 Forestry Legacy Scholarship

Corbett           Nicholas Bechtoldt, a senior in renewable materials, received a $4000 Oregon Forest Industries Council Scholarship and a $3000 Richardson Scholarship

Corvallis         Thomas Bain, a sophomore in renewable materials, received a $3000 Richardson Scholarship; James Boulger, a freshman in renewable materials, received a $6500 Willamette Industries Legacy Scholarship and a $1000 Francis Jepson Memorial Scholarship; Thor Dodson, a freshman in renewable materials, received a $1100 N. Stewart Rogers Scholarship, a $2600 Vance & Dorothy Shugart Scholarship, and a $3000 Richardson Scholarship; Suzanne Katz, a sophomore in forest management, received a $2600 Vance & Dorothy Shugart Scholarship, a $1000 Pastega Family Scholarship, and a $1400 Catharine Cox Merriam Memorial Scholarship; Bruce Moffatt, a senior in natural resources, received a $5000 George Brown Scholarship; Jessica Priest, a senior in natural resources, received a $1300 George M. Cornwall Scholarship, a $1400 Helen and Charles Fulton Memorial Scholarship, and a $2300 G. Robert Leavengood Scholarship; Jake Thompson, a senior in forest operations management, received a $7000 Dorothy D. Hoener Memorial Scholarship and a $1000 Rob Johnson Memorial Scholarship; Jeffrey Traver, a sophomore in renewable materials, received a $5000 Oregon Forest Industries Council Scholarship and a $3000 Richardson Scholarship

Cottage Grove                        Heath Webb, a junior in forest management, received a $6000 Albert Powers, Sr. Scholarship

Dallas              Mychal Westendorf, a freshman in Forest Engineering, received a $4000 Oregon Forest Industries Council Scholarship

Dayton             Eric Nygren, a freshman in forest engineering, received a $2300 Eula M. Ten Eyck Scholarship and a $2700 Dan Graham Scholarship

Drain               William Hollamon, a junior in wood science and technology, received a $7000 Dorothy D. Hoener Memorial Scholarship, a $1000 B.D. Mitchell and H.R. Blacketor Scholarship, and a $3000 Richardson Scholarship

Dundee           Garrett Duyck, a senior in natural resources, received a $2100 Rex Brown Memorial Scholarship, and a $5900 DeMuth Forestry Scholarship

Eugene            Jasmine Adams, a freshman in renewable materials, received a $2600 Portland Hoo Hoo Club Scholarship and a $1400 Campbell Group Scholarship; Steven Huff, a junior in forest management, received a $4000 Francis Jepson Memorial Scholarship and a $2000 Robert E. and Hedy M. Snow Scholarship

Forest Grove  Alex Van Loo, a junior in forest engineering, received a $5000 Oregon Forest Industries Council Scholarship

Glide               Sara Smaha, a senior in Natural Resources, received a $4000 Gordon and Priscilla Duncan Scholarship

Harrisburg      Benjamin Sundberg, a senior in wood science and technology, received a $7000 Dorothy D. Hoener Memorial Scholarship, a $1000 Joseph Strehle Scholarship, and a $3000 Richardson Scholarship

Hillsboro         Shane Prohaska, a junior in forest engineering, received a $7000 Dorothy D. Hoener Memorial Scholarship and a $1000 John W. Warjone Scholarship

Jefferson         Kayla Naas, a freshman in renewable materials, received a $4200 Harold “Bud” Freres Scholarship and a $1500 Richardson Scholarship

Keizer             Allen Stevens, sophomore in forest engineering, received a $7000 Dorothy D. Hoener Memorial Scholarship

Medford          Jared White, a freshman in renewable materials, received a $3000 Richardson Scholarship

Myrtle Point   Karl Smith, a sophomore in forest engineering, received a $4000 Weyerhaeuser Company Foundation Scholarship

Newport          Andrew Bartoldus, a senior in forest engineering, received a $7000 Dorothy D. Hoener Memorial Scholarship and a $1000 Burton E. and Mary Jane Jeppesen Oregon Small Woodlands Scholarship

Oakland          Chet Miller, a senior in forest engineering, received a $4000 C. Wylie Smith Scholarship and a $4000 Glenn and Josephine Thompson Scholarship

Philomath        Derek Gourley, a junior in forest management, received a $6000 Helen and Charles Fulton Memorial Scholarship

Portland          Max Blasdel, a sophomore in natural resources, received a $4000 Forestry Legacy Scholarship and a $1000 Forestry Natural Resources Program Scholarship; Jessica Kessinger, a freshman in forest engineering, received a $4000 Oregon Small Woodlands Scholarship; Sara Lynch, a senior in recreation resource management, received a $7600 Autzen Foundation Scholarship; Matthew McKenzie, a sophomore in Forest Management, received a $1000 Jay B. Hann, Jr. Scholarship and a $5000 Francis R. McCabe Memorial Scholarship; Camille Moyers, a junior in renewable materials, received a $6000 Weyerhaeuser Company Foundation Scholarship and a $3000 Richardson Scholarship; Jeremy Porter, a senior in forest management, received a $2400 Robert F. Keniston Memorial Scholarship, a $1500 Schutz Family Education “Forestry Ambassador” Scholarship, and a $2000 Durward “Ben” F. Slater Memorial Scholarship

Roseburg        Kirsten Fox, a freshman in pre-forest/civil engineering, received a $6000 Joe M. Crahane Scholarship; Tiffany Netz, a sophomore in forest engineering, received a $500 James Girard Scholarship, a $2500 Wendell Oliver Walker Scholarship, and a $2500 Gordon G. Carlson Scholarship

Salem              Travis Emerling, sophomore in forest operations management, received a $5000 John R. Snellstrom Scholarship; Christofer Farm, a junior in forest engineering, received a $1500 Eula M. Ten Eyck Scholarship and a  $2500 Harold  Scritsmier Scholarship; Marie Petrie, a senior in forest management, received a $7000 Forestry Legacy Scholarship; Jordan Vesper, a freshman in forest engineering received a $1700 Robert and Edward Peterson Scholarship and a $2300 Glenn and Josephine Thompson Scholarship; Katelin Williamson, a senior in forest management, received an $1100 Catharine Cox Merriam Memorial Scholarship, a $2500 John & Elizabeth Morrison Scholarship, and a $400 Louis & Alice Blaser Humboldt Area Foundation Scholarship

Scappoose       Anna Grabhorn, a junior in forest management, received a $2300 Janet K. Ayer Sachet Memorial Scholarship and a $2600 Vance & Dorothy Shugart Scholarship

Seneca             Brady Long, a senior in renewable materials, received a $1250 Lois & Dick Kearns Scholarship, a $2700 B.D. Mitchell and H.R. Blacketor Scholarship, and a $3000 Richardson Scholarship

Springfield       Elijah Allensworth, a senior in forest management, received a $7000 Dorothy D. Hoener Memorial Scholarship and a $1000 Floyd Hart Memorial Scholarship; Landon Fisher, a freshman in forest engineering, received a $2000 Margaret Starker Memorial Scholarship and a $2000 Eula M. Ten Eyck Memorial Scholarship; Caleb Gee, a freshman in renewable materials, received a $1500 Richardson Scholarship; Garrett Yarbrough, a senior in forest management, received a $2500 John and Elizabeth Morrison Scholarship and a $2600 Vance and Dorothy Shugart Scholarship; Joel Zeni, a senior in forest engineering, received a $7000 Dorothy D. Hoener Memorial Scholarship and a $1000 T.J. and Margaret O. Starker Memorial Scholarship

Sutherlin         Dallas Reid, a senior in renewable materials, received a $3000 Richardson Scholarship

Union              Matthew Smith, a senior in forest engineering, received a $4000 Eula M. Ten Eyck Memorial Scholarship and a $1000 Michael V. and Barbara “Kay” Brown Scholarship

Vida                 Mattias Cronholm, a freshman in forest engineering, received a $2700 Kurt Jon Peterson Scholarship and a $3300 Robert E. and Hedy M. Snow Scholarship

Waldport         Christiana Kittel, a sophomore in forest operations management, received a $2700 Wendell Oliver Walker Scholarship and a $5000 Weyerhaeuser Company Foundation Scholarship

Wallowa           Brandon Mahon, a senior in forest engineering, received a $1500 Sam Konnie Family Scholarship and a $4500 Eula M. Ten Eyck Memorial Scholarship

Warrenton       Erik Neilson, a junior in forest engineering, received a $3500 Robert E. and Hedy M. Snow Scholarship

West Linn       Thomas Lord, a senior in forest engineering, received a $7000 Dorothy D. Hoener Memorial Scholarship and a $1000 Forestry Alumni Scholarship

Westfir              Sally Murray, a senior in natural resources, received a $2750 Clarence Richen Memorial Scholarship

Wilsonville      Alexandra Pederson, a senior in natural resources, received a $1500 Schutz Family education “Forestry Ambassadors” Scholarship and a $7000 Forestry Legacy Scholarship

Analysis raises atmospheric, economic doubts about forest bioenergy

The study this story is based on is available online: http://bit.ly/HySkxu

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A large, global move to produce more energy from forest biomass may be possible and already is beginning in some places, but scientists say in a new analysis that such large-scale bioenergy production from forest biomass is unsustainable and will increase greenhouse gas emissions.

Early suggestions that such a forest biofuel industry would be greenhouse “neutral” or even reduce greenhouse emissions “are based on erroneous assumptions,” a group of international researchers said in an invited analysis in Global Change Biology/Bioenergy, a professional journal.

A major increase in this industry, they concluded, would also result in shorter tree rotations, younger forests, depleted soil nutrients, increased risk of erosion, loss of forest biodiversity and function, higher costs for bioenergy than are now being anticipated, and increased use of fertilizers – also a source of greenhouse emissions.

“The main objective of bioenergy production from forest harvest is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but the strategy is likely to miss the mark,” said Beverly Law, a professor of forest science at Oregon State University and one of the co-authors.

This report was led by the Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Germany, OSU, and other universities in Switzerland, Austria and France. The work was supported by several agencies in Europe and the U.S. Department of Energy.

“The article raises important issues for bioenergy policies,” said co-author Helmut Haberl, who is also an author of the climate mitigation chapter of the fifth assessment that is under way by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

This analysis was based on a theoretical, significant increase in energy from forest biomass, as has been proposed by some researchers, to 20 percent or more of current global primary energy supply. For instance, about 20 percent of all European Union energy consumption is supposed to come from renewable sources by 2020, with bioenergy as a focal point.

Advocates of such approaches, which would use forest biomass either for direct combustion or by conversion to biofuels, say that this could significantly decrease global dependence on fossil fuels without competing with food production, and in many cases create local jobs.

A major initiative is now under way in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. to study just such possibilities and produce some of the aviation fuel of the future, in the process creating jobs and helping to thin regional forests. However, it is much less ambitious than the scenarios studied in the new analysis.

In this report, and based on large-scale use of biofuels as proposed in some policies, the scientists outlined a number of concerns. They include:

  • The general assumption that bioenergy is carbon-neutral is not valid.
  • The reduction of biomass and lost carbon sequestration by forests could take decades to centuries to be “paid back” by fossil fuel substitution, if paid back at all.
  • There are significant concerns about the economic viability of biofuels, which may require government mandates or subsidies.
  • A higher demand for biomass from forests will increase prices for the biomass, as in Germany where they have already increased in price 300-600 percent from 2005 to 2010.
  • An emphasis on bioenergy production from forests could lead to shorter rotation lengths, questionable management practices and increased dependence on wood imports.
  • Negative impacts on vegetation, soil fertility, water and ecosystem diversity are all possible.
  • Fertilizer use, another important source of greenhouse gas emissions, could increase.
  • The use of fossil fuels in the Industrial Revolution allowed previously degraded forests to recover in much of Europe and the U.S., while industrial-scale use of forests for biomass would likely reverse this trend.

If biofuels are desired, the researchers said, a better alternative would be to produce them on lands that once were forested but now are not, although that runs the risk of competing with food and animal forage production.

“Society should fully quantify direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions associated with energy alternatives, and associated consequences, prior to making policy commitments that have long-term effects on global forests,” the authors wrote in their conclusion.

“There is substantial risk of sacrificing forest integrity and sustainability with no guarantee to mitigate climate change,” they said.

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Beverly Law, 541-737-6111

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Forests and atmospheric carbon

Forest energy analysis

Loss of predators affecting ecosystem health

The study this story is based on is available online: http://hdl.handle.net/1957/28411

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A survey on the loss in the Northern Hemisphere of large predators, particularly wolves, concludes that current populations of moose, deer, and other large herbivores far exceed their historic levels and are contributing to disrupted ecosystems.

The research, published today by scientists from Oregon State University, examined 42 studies done over the past 50 years.

It found that the loss of major predators in forest ecosystems has allowed game animal populations to greatly increase, crippling the growth of young trees and reducing biodiversity. This also contributes to deforestation and results in less carbon sequestration, a potential concern with climate change.

“These issues do not just affect the United States and a few national parks,” said William Ripple, an OSU professor of forestry and lead author of the study. “The data from Canada, Alaska, the Yukon, Northern Europe and Asia are all showing similar results. There’s consistent evidence that large predators help keep populations of large herbivores in check, with positive effects on ecosystem health.”

Densities of large mammalian herbivores were six times greater in areas without wolves, compared to those in which wolves were present, the researchers concluded. They also found that combinations of predators, such as wolves and bears, can create an important synergy for moderating the size of large herbivore populations.

“Wolves can provide food that bears scavenge, helping to maintain a healthy bear population,” said Robert Beschta, a professor emeritus at OSU and co-author of the study. “The bears then often prey on young moose, deer or elk – in Yellowstone more young elk calves are killed by bears than by wolves, coyotes and cougars combined.”

In Europe, the coexistence of wolves with lynx also resulted in lower deer densities than when wolves existed alone.

In recent years, OSU researchers have helped lead efforts to understand how major predators help to reduce herbivore population levels, improve ecosystem function and even change how herbivores behave when they feel threatened by predation – an important aspect they call the “ecology of fear.”

“In systems where large predators remain, they appear to have a major role in sustaining the diversity and productivity of native plant communities, thus maintaining healthy ecosystems,” said Beschta. “When the role of major predators is more fully appreciated, it may allow managers to reconsider some of their assumptions about the management of wildlife.”

In Idaho and Montana, hundreds of wolves are now being killed in an attempt to reduce ranching conflicts and increase game herd levels.

The new analysis makes clear that the potential beneficial ecosystem effects of large predators is far more pervasive, over much larger areas, than has often been appreciated.

It points out how large predators can help maintain native plant communities by keeping large herbivore densities in check, allow small trees to survive and grow, reduce stream bank erosion, and contribute to the health of forests, streams, fisheries and other wildlife.

It also concludes that human hunting, due to its limited duration and impact, is not effective in preventing hyper-abundant densities of large herbivores. This is partly “because hunting by humans is often not functionally equivalent to predation by large, wide-ranging carnivores such as wolves,” the researchers wrote in their report.

“More studies are necessary to understand how many wolves are needed in managed ecosystems,” Ripple said. “It is likely that wolves need to be maintained at sufficient densities before we see their resulting effects on ecosystems.”

The research was published online today in the European Journal of Wildlife Research, a professional journal.

“The preservation or recovery of large predators may represent an important conservation need for helping to maintain the resiliency of northern forest ecosystems,” the researchers concluded, “especially in the face of a rapidly changing climate.”

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William Ripple, 541-737-3056

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Wolf


Wolves in Yellowstone



Grizzly bear

Grizzly bear


Video of “trophic cascade”

STIHL TIMBERSPORTS qualifier coming to OSU

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University will host the Western Qualifier for the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS Series on March 30, featuring some of the top collegiate and professional lumberjack competitors in the western United States.

Winners of the professional and collegiate competitions will advance to the U.S. Championships in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., June 1-3.

The Outdoor Channel, ESPN-U and TUFF-TV cameras will be on the OSU campus to film the Western Qualifier. Schedule details are available at http://www.stihltimbersports.us. The full airing schedule for the Western Qualifier can be viewed here.

The event, part of the 73nd annual Association of Western Forestry Clubs conclave, will begin at 2 p.m. on Friday, March 30, at OSU’s McAlexander Field House (1800 SW Jefferson Way, Corvallis). The conclave takes place during Spring Break, at Peavy Arboretum in Corvallis, beginning March 28.

“Last year’s top four western professionals went on to win the 2011 U.S. Relay Championship, and we anticipate seeing the talent these athletes will bring to the competition this year,” said Brad Sorgen, producer of the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS Series.

In the Collegiate Series, the participating universities select their best lumberjacks or jills to chop and saw in four disciplines including the single buck, standing block chop, stock saw and underhand chop, using professional-sized wood and rules. After competing in each of the disciplines, the competitors with the most cumulative points earns a $1,000 scholarship from STIHL for their school and advances to the 2012 STIHL TIMBERSPORTS Collegiate Championship.

Thirteen schools will participate in the qualifier including Colorado State University, University of Montana, and Humboldt State University.

"We are honored to host the 2012 STIHL TIMBERSPORTS Series western qualifier here at Oregon State as part of the annual Western Forestry Clubs conclave," said John Mann, director of college forests for the OSU College of Forestry. "I am very proud of the leadership skills our students have demonstrated in preparation of this high profile event.”

Following the Collegiate Western Qualifier, the region’s top professional lumberjack athletes will race the clock and each other through six traditional categories – the hot saw, single buck, springboard chop, standing block chop, stock saw and underhand chop. The competitors are contending for one of four coveted U.S. Championship slots.

Oregon native and long-time competitor Mike Forrester, from Glide, Ore., will be among the eight professional lumberjacks to compete in the qualifier. Another Oregon professional competitor is art teacher and arborist Jeff Skirvin from Clatskanie.

The top four pros from each regional qualifier advance to the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS U.S. Championship where they will compete for the national title, a brand new Ram 1500 truck and the opportunity to represent the United States in the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS World Championship in Lillehammer, Norway, Sept. 8-9.

Additional pros will be selected by officials to represent the U.S. in the World Championship Relay Competition.

The Great Smokey Mountain Lumberjack Feud STIHL TIMBERSPORTS Series Championships in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., June 1-3.

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Justin Thomas, 541-990-5695

Author, environmentalist to lecture on future of the planet

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Mark Lynas, an award-winning author and National Geographic Explorer will present a lecture on the future of the planet Earth on Wednesday, Feb. 29, at Oregon State University.

The presentation, part of the Outreach in Biotechnology - Food for Thought lecture series, is titled “The God Species: how the planet can survive the age of humans.” It will be at 7 p.m. in the LasSells Stewart Center, and is free and open to the public. The lecture is based on his most recent book of the same title.

Lynas was winner of the 2007 Royal Society Book Award for his book “Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet.” His OSU lecture will discuss the nine planetary “boundaries” that humans are threatening to violate, the impacts of transgression, what can be done to avoid them, and the roles of genetic engineering and nuclear energy in averting these transgressions.

Lynas will also speak with OSU students on Feb. 29 at noon in the Memorial Union, Room 213, on how to write to motivate action on global-scale environmental problems.

More information on the author, lecture and series is available online at http://bit.ly/A7IoLB.

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Steven Strauss, 541-737-6578

Yellowstone transformed 15 years after the return of wolves

The study this story is based on is available in ScholarsArchive@OSU: http://hdl.handle.net/1957/25603

CORVALLIS, Ore. – On the 15th anniversary of the return of wolves, a quiet but profound rebirth of life and ecosystem health is emerging at Yellowstone National Park.

For the first time in 70 years, the howl in the night is being heard and elk are afraid of wolf predation. As a result, their over-browsing of young aspen and willow trees has diminished. Trees and shrubs are recovering along streams. The habitat is improving for beaver and fish. Bears have more food. Hundreds of species of birds, mammals, fish and reptiles are once again finding their niche in a vibrant ecosystem.

The world’s first national park, a global treasure, is being reborn.

“Yellowstone increasingly looks like a different place,” said William Ripple, a professor in the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society at Oregon State University, and lead author of a new study.

“These are still the early stages of recovery, and some of this may still take decades,” Ripple said. “But trees and shrubs are starting to come back and beaver numbers are increasing. It’s very encouraging.”

The findings of this report were just published in Biological Conservation, a professional journal. They outline an ecosystem renaissance that has taken place since wolves were restored to Yellowstone after being extirpated in the 1920s.

Along four streams studied in the Lamar River basin, 100 percent of the tallest young aspen sprouts were being browsed in 1998, compared to less than 20 percent last year. Heavy browsing by elk on this favorite food had caused new aspen tree recruitment to essentially grind to a halt in the mid-to-late 1900s, when wolves were absent, but new trees are now growing again in places.

Among the observations in this report:

  • Since their reintroduction in 1995-96, the wolf population generally increased until 2003, forcing changes in both elk numbers and behavior due to what researchers call the “ecology of fear.”
  • The northern range elk populations decreased from more than 15,000 individuals in the early 1990s to about 6,000 last year, and remaining elk now have different patterns of movement, vigilance, and other traits.
  • By 2006, some aspen trees had grown tall enough they were no longer susceptible to browsing by elk, and cottonwood and willow were also beginning to return in places.
  • Improved willow growth is providing habitat that allows for a greater diversity and abundance of songbirds such as the common yellowthroat, warbling vireo and song sparrow.
  • The number of beaver colonies in the same area increased from one in 1996 to 12 in 2009, with positive impacts on fish habitat.
  • Increases in beaver populations have strong implications for riparian hydrology and biodiversity – Wyoming streams with beaver ponds have been found to have 75 times more abundant waterfowl than those without.
  • The coyote population decreased with the increase in wolf numbers, allowing more small mammals that provide food for other avian and mammalian predators, such as red foxes, ravens and bald eagles.

Evidence of improved ecosystem health following the return of wolves is “becoming increasingly persuasive,” the scientists said in their report, though they also note that an increasing population of bison is continuing to impact young woody plants in the Lamar Valley.

“The wolves have made a major difference in Yellowstone,” said Robert Beschta, a professor emeritus of forestry at OSU and co-author on the study.

“Whether similar recovery of plant communities can be expected in other areas, especially on public lands outside national parks, is less clear,” Beschta said. “It may be necessary for wolves not only to be present but to have an ecologically effective density, and mechanisms to deal with human and wolf conflicts also need to be improved.”

But at least in America’s first national park, right now, the wolf is back and on the prowl. Their howls fill cold winter nights, and the power of predation has been restored. The fear is back.

And the park is returning to life.

 

Note: YouTube video in Yellowstone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGnIYrsF4bk&feature=youtu.be

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William Ripple, 541-737-3056

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Aspen recovery in Yellowstone
Aspen recovery


Wolf
Wolf in Yellowstone

 
Wolf

Wolf on attack

Fuel reduction likely to increase carbon emissions

The study this story is based on is available in ScholarsArchive@OSU: http://bit.ly/vqSGMY

 

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Forest thinning to help prevent or reduce severe wildfire will release more carbon to the atmosphere than any amount saved by successful fire prevention, a new study concludes.

There may be valid reasons to thin forests – such as restoration of forest structure or health, wildlife enhancement or public safety – but increased carbon sequestration is not one of them, scientists say.

In research just published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, Oregon State University scientists conclude that even in fire-prone forests, it’s necessary to treat about 10 locations to influence fire behavior in one. There are high carbon losses associated with fuel treatment and only modest savings in reducing the severity of fire, they found.

“Some researchers have suggested that various levels of tree removal are consistent with efforts to sequester carbon in forest biomass, and reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide levels,” said John Campbell, an OSU research associate in the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society. “That may make common sense, but it’s based on unrealistic assumptions and not supported by the science.”

A century of fire suppression in many forests across the West has created a wide range of problems, including over-crowded forests, increased problems with insect and pathogen attack, greater risk of catastrophic fire and declining forest health.

Forest thinning and fuel reduction may help address some of those issues, and some believe that it would also help prevent more carbon release to the atmosphere if it successfully reduced wildfire.

“There is no doubt you can change fire behavior by managing fuels and there may be other reasons to do it,” said Mark Harmon, holder of the Richardson Chair in Forest Science at OSU. “But the carbon does not just disappear, even if it’s used for wood products or other purposes. We have to be honest about the carbon cost and consider it along with the other reasons for this type of forest management.”

Even if wood removed by thinning is used for biofuels it will not eliminate the concern. Previous studies at OSU have indicated that, in most of western Oregon, use of wood for biofuels will result in a net loss of carbon sequestration for at least 100 years, and probably much longer.

In the new analysis, researchers analyzed the effect of fuel treatments on wildfire and carbon stocks in several scenarios, including a single forest patch or disturbance, an entire forest landscape and multiple disturbances.

One key finding was that even a low-severity fire released 70 percent as much carbon as did a high-severity fire that killed most trees. The majority of carbon emissions result from combustion of surface fuels, which occur in any type of fire.

The researchers also said that the basic principles in these evaluations would apply to a wide range of forest types and conditions, and are not specific to just a few locations.

“People want to believe that every situation is different, but in fact the basic relationships are consistent,” Campbell said. “We may want to do fuel reduction across much of the West, these are real concerns. But if so we’ll have to accept that it will likely increase carbon emissions.”

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Fuel reduction

Fuel reduction

Thinning reduces flying squirrel populations – key part of spotted owl diet

The study this story is based on is available in ScholarsArchive@OSU: http://bit.ly/tNqiB3

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Thinning of young Douglas-fir forests in the Pacific Northwest, done in part to help them return to a structure more similar to old-growth forests and aid recovery of the threatened northern spotted owl, also reduces the populations of flying squirrels that form an important part of the owl’s diet.

A recent study by scientists from Oregon State University and the U.S. Geological Survey found that this unwanted impact illustrates the complexity of trying to restore old-growth characteristics in forests that for decades were managed primarily for Douglas-fir timber production.

In the long run, researchers said, a restoration of old-growth structure should be a positive force for both spotted owl recovery and the northern flying squirrel – but in the near term, forest stands that have been thinned support significantly lower densities of flying squirrels than unthinned stands.

“Some of the stands being thinned were probably not great spotted owl habitat to begin with, and the impact on flying squirrel populations may not be permanent,” said Joan Hagar, a researcher with the U.S. Geological Survey and courtesy faculty member in the OSU Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society.

“This is a fairly common problem in restoration ecology, in which there are always winners and losers,” she said. “What this really suggests is that we may not want to thin all of these forest types, we need to preserve some as a refuge that would allow flying squirrel populations to recover in the future.”

Flying squirrels, Hagar said, are a major part of the diet of the northern spotted owl and also help disperse fungi important to tree health. There are millions of acres of even-aged, Douglas-fir dominated forests being considered for thinning, for both spotted owl recovery and other goals, both economic and ecological.

The northern flying squirrel is considered a “keystone species” by ecologists and an indicator of forest health. They do best in forests with many large live trees and well-developed understories, characteristics that are now largely lacking in many young forests.

This research studied various types of thinning treatments, and found that the heavier the thinning, the heavier the impact on flying squirrel populations. It was one of the longer-term studies done on this issue, for up to 13 years after thinning.

The findings “would seem to argue for caution in carrying out commercial thinning across large portions of the Pacific Northwest landscape, especially if one eventual goal is to sustain the primary prey of the northern spotted owl,” the researchers said in their conclusion.

Continued monitoring of northern flying squirrels and their habitat will help determine when flying squirrel populations begin to recover in thinned stands, in which treatment levels this occurs most quickly and which habitat features are most important, the scientists said.

The study was supported by the USDA Forest Service. It was published in Forest Ecology and Management, a professional journal.

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Joan Hagar, 541-737-6574

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Northern flying squirrel

Northern flying squirrel

Southwestern Oregon streams: a flawed view of the past

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The hands-off approach to riparian zones in southwestern Oregon is perpetuating congested, conifer-dominated streams that bear little resemblance to pre-European settlement conditions, and may be detrimental to long-term ecosystem health and some goals of the Northwest Forest Plan, a new study concludes.

Contrary to common assumptions, stream sides in this region were an open forest dominated by a mix of conifers and hardwoods until the 1850s, according to an Oregon State University study.

The forest cover prior to settlement varied, ranging from an open savannah at low elevations to a low-density forest at mid-elevations, with grass and shrubs in the understory that provided more food for fish. There was likely less shade and woody debris than the conifer-dominated streams seen today.

In a study published in Forest Ecology and Management, researchers said there is a flawed perspective about the historic nature of these streams before settlers arrived. At least some thinning and use of prescribed fire may be necessary to regain those conditions, they said.

“The major changes in these streams at first had little to do with logging or fire suppression, and actually started around 1850,” said David Hibbs, a professor in OSU’s Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society.

“Settlers brought in grazing animals, cleared land, and Native American populations declined,” he said. “These and other changes allowed more Douglas-fir to move in and displace the oak, madrone and other hardwood trees and shrubs that used to be a major part of the forest. At mid-elevations, white fir has even begun to replace the Douglas-fir.”

Before settlement, these riparian zones were actually more similar to the upland areas, with well-spaced trees, grasslands, and shade-intolerant tree species that could deal with more frequent fire, researchers said.

“They were quite open compared to what you see today,” Hibbs said. “And with our current policies of fire suppression and no timber removal, they are moving even further from their historic condition. Our vision of what these lands used to be is inaccurate. The question is where to go from here.”

In the days before European settlement, Hibbs said, the streams probably had less shade to cool them than many of them do today, more and higher quality leaf litter, and less woody debris. Both water temperature and woody debris are important to stream health. But deciduous trees and shrubs also provided greater volume and higher quality of litter that feeds insects and ultimately fish.

This description probably applies to forests of southwestern Oregon and parts of the northern Sierra Nevada range in California, Hibbs said, but not to streams in other locations that are not as hot or dry.

The researchers did a historical analysis of this region by analyzing existing tree species, tree rings, fire scars and other evidence to gain a better perspective on what these stream ecosystems looked like when affected only by Native Americans.

The report observed that:

  • Many of these stream ecosystems developed with more frequent but low- or mixed-severity fire and were dominated by a mix of conifers, deciduous trees and shrubs.
  • Major changes in forest composition began in the late 1800s – of the live conifers in some areas, five times as many germinated between 1850 and 1900 as in the 280 years before that.
  • Fire exclusion in the 20th century has allowed the changes begun in the 1800s to continue.
  • The change in tree and shrub composition is now reducing food and habitat for both aquatic and terrestrial wildlife, including a primary food source for the northern spotted owl.
  • A century and a half of fire exclusion and, more recently, regulations against any tree removal have created congested forests that may be moving even further away from historic conditions and ecosystems.

“The policy for riparian management areas in the Pacific Northwest, though well-intentioned, may be detrimental to the long-term health of riparian forests in regions shaped by fire,” the researchers wrote in their conclusion.

If historic and more natural conditions are desired, they said, partial harvest treatments and use of prescribed fire in some riparian areas would help to gradually restore them.

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David Hibbs, 541-737-6077

Climate change causing movement of tree species across the West

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A huge “migration” of trees has begun across much of the West due to global warming, insect attack, diseases and fire, and many tree species are projected to decline or die out in regions where they have been present for centuries, while others move in and replace them.

In an enormous display of survival of the fittest, the forests of the future are taking a new shape.

In a new report, scientists outline the impact that a changing climate will have on which tree species can survive, and where. The study suggests that many species that were once able to survive and thrive are losing their competitive footholds, and opportunistic newcomers will eventually push them out.

In some cases, once-common species such as lodgepole pine will be replaced by other trees, perhaps a range expansion of ponderosa pine or Douglas-fir. Other areas may shift completely out of forest into grass savannah or sagebrush desert. In central California, researchers concluded that more than half of the species now present would not be expected to persist in the climate conditions of the future.

“Some of these changes are already happening, pretty fast and in some huge areas,” said Richard Waring, professor emeritus at Oregon State University and lead author of the study. “In some cases the mechanism of change is fire or insect attack, in others it’s simply drought.

“We can’t predict exactly which tree (species) will die or which one will take its place, but we can see the long-term trends and probabilities,” Waring said. “The forests of our future are going to look quite different.”

Waring said tree species that are native to a local area or region are there because they can most effectively compete with other species given the specific conditions of temperature, precipitation, drought, cold-tolerance and many other factors that favor one species over another in that location.

As those climatic conditions change, species that have been established for centuries or millennia will lose their competitive edge, Waring said, and slowly but surely decline or disappear.

This survey, done with remote sensing of large areas over a four-year period, compared 15 coniferous tree species that are found widely across much of the West in Canada and the United States. The research explored impacts on 34 different “eco-regions” ranging from the Columbia Plateau to the Sierra Nevada, Snake River Plain and Yukon Highlands.

It projected which tree species would be at highest risk of disturbance in a future that’s generally expected to be 5-9 degrees Fahrenheit warmer by 2080, with perhaps somewhat more precipitation in the winter and spring, and less during the summer.

Among the findings:

  • Some of the greatest shifts in tree species are expected to occur in both the northern and southern extremes of this area, such as British Columbia, Alberta, and California.
  • Large declines are expected in lodgepole pine and Engelmann spruce, and more temperate species such as Douglas-fir and western hemlock may expand their ranges.
  • Many wilderness areas are among those at risk of the greatest changes, and will probably be the first to experience major shifts in tree species.
  • Some of the mild, wetter areas of western Oregon and Washington will face less overall species change than areas of the West with a harsher climate.
  • More than half of the evergreen species are experiencing a significant decrease in their competitiveness in six eco-regions.
  • Conditions have become more favorable for outbreaks of diseases and insects.
  • Warming will encourage growth at higher elevations and latitudes, and increased drought at the other extremes. Fire frequency will continue to increase across the West, and any tree species lacking drought resistance will face special challenges.

“Ecosystems are always changing at the landscape level, but normally the rate of change is too slow for humans to notice,” said Steven Running, the University of Montana Regents Professor and a co-author of the study. “Now the rate of change is fast enough we can see it.”

Even though the rate of change has increased, these processes will take time, the scientists said. A greater stability of forest composition will not be attained anytime soon, perhaps for centuries.

 “There’s not a lot we can do to really control these changes,” Waring said. “For instance, to keep old trees alive during drought or insect attacks that they are no longer able to deal with, you might have to thin the forest and remove up to half the trees. These are very powerful forces at work.”

One of the best approaches to plan for an uncertain future, the researchers said, is to maintain “connective corridors” as much as possible so that trees can naturally migrate to new areas in a changing future and not be stopped by artificial boundaries.

Also collaborating on the research was Nicholas Coops at the University of British Columbia. The work has been supported by NASA, and the study is being published in two professional journals, Ecological Modeling and Remote Sensing of Environment.

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Richard Waring, 541-737-6087

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Dying trees
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