Staff on the Entiat Ranger District of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in Washington state partnered with researchers to develop a strategy to improve the sustainability of the district’s recreation program. The need to pursue a sustainable recreation strategy came about in response to a series of severe wildfires that damaged recreation infrastructure and altered natural resource conditions. Concurrent to those wildfires was continued limited funding for infrastructure maintenance and recreation management. Researchers worked with Entiat Ranger District staff to develop and implement social and biophysical assessments of recreation interests and recreation resource conditions. The assessments informed a sustainable recreation strategy document that included site-specific and districtwide recommendations. This work was guided by national and regional U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service frameworks for sustainable recreation planning, and we incorporated the concept of resilience. This report describes the development of a sustainable recreation strategy for the Entiat Ranger District, which can serve as an example for other units in developing a sustainable recreation plan at a local level.
Streams and rivers are a rich repository of minute traces of genetic material from all organisms that live in or near the water, from the tiniest microbes to fish, mammals, and trees. This environmental DNA (eDNA) can tell a detailed story about the life within and around the waterbody.
Brooke Penaluna and Richard Cronn, scientists with USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, have spent the past several years studying the potential uses of eDNA as a tool for understanding what’s living in Pacific Northwest streams. Through eDNA analysis, they have identified more than 900 taxa living in Fall Creek in western Oregon. And they were able to identify distinctions within species, giving a more nuanced picture of what’s inhabiting Northwest waters. Penaluna also found that the distribution of coastal cutthroat trout in 60 streams in Oregon and Washington was more extensive than previously thought.
Their methods show promise as a survey tool for public and private natural resource managers who are tasked with protecting endangered fish and other species, as well as monitoring the introduction of aquatic invasive species. The current survey method, in use since the 1960s, is electrofishing, which is more labor-intensive, can only be done in wadable water, and is potentially hazardous to stream life.
More work needs to be done to make eDNA analysis an efficient and costeffective tool in the field, but the possibilities are nearly endless.
For over 35 years, the Starkey project has conducted policy-shaping research on deer and elk.
With its game-proof fence and controlled access, the Starkey Experimental Forest and Range is truly a one-of-a-kind research facility. Combined with automated traffic counters, tractable elk that helped break new ground in elk nutrition, decades of telemetry data, and animal handling facilities and you have a world-class resource and research program referred to as The Starkey Project. A broad spectrum of federal, state, private, Tribal and university partners have collaborated, leading to widespread acceptance and use of results to tackle national issues in resource management. But key to Starkey Project success is the 30-plus year collaboration and co-leadership between the USFS Pacific Northwest Research Station (PNW) and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). How has this partnership, and the Project, been so successful? From the get-go, both agencies worked together to develop the facility, its technologies, and research agenda, while leveraging funding and equipment. Both PNW and ODFW support a full-time Starkey Project Leader, with scant turnover through the years. Jack Ward Thomas, Starkey Project Leader for PNW in the 1980s and early 90s, was instrumental in getting the fencing and supporting technologies established, working closely with Donavin Leckenby, Project leader for ODFW. Project staff have always been co-located to ensure the work remains tightly integrated. This long collaboration has been one of the closest and most successful research partnerships that we know of between federal and state agencies. Research results have been widely adopted for managing forests and rangelands of western North America.
This chapter is a review and synthesis of research on stream nutrients from the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest (HJA) located in the western Cascade Mountains of Oregon. This research includes studies, some of which originated in the 1960s, in streams through reference forests and harvested watersheds. In addition to providing foundational information for researchers and managers, the information in this chapter serves to inform national and regional water quality regulatory agencies about results of relevant scientific studies at HJA. The chapter also identifies questions of potential interest to regulatory agencies involving processes of transport, transformation, and uptake of nutrients that could be addressed at HJA. In the Pacific Northwest, many species of anadromous fish are declining and at risk of extinction. As a result, several species of anadromous salmon and trout (salmonids) have been listed under the federal and state of Oregon Endangered Species Acts (16 U.S.C. 153110536, 1538-1540; ORS 496.171-496.192). Causes of these species’ decline include deterioration of critical habitat conditions in the region’s rivers and streams. Several of these critical habitat features are related to water quality, including stream water temperature and sediment load. Streamside vegetation plays an important role in providing favorable habitat for these fish by providing shade, erosion control, and serving as a source of instream large wood. Measures to protect and restore habitat for these at-risk species have had economic and social impacts across the region.
Every summer, wildfires burn thousands of acres of forests in the American West. After the fire, forest managers must decide what to do next: Leave the postfire landscape to recover naturally? Harvest some of the burned trees for timber? What combination of management actions is most likely to reduce the severity of a repeat wildfire and to make the forests more resilient?
Morris Johnson, a research fire ecologist with the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, is working with federal and tribal forest managers to answer these questions. He is conducting long-term, replicated, and controlled studies in areas burned by some of the most severe wildfires in the Western United States. Using a randomized block sampling design and simulation modeling, he’s monitoring the effects of various treatment options, quantifying the effects of salvage logging on woody fuel loadings, snag dynamics, and seedling density. Results from his study in north-central Washington indicate salvage logging reduced long-term woody fuel loading, potentially reducing the severity of future reburns.
Johnson works closely with national forests staff during postfire management planning. His central research questions are included as learning objectives in the official purpose and need documentation required by the National Environmental Policy Act. This exemplifies how scientists and managers coproduce science to address critical questions about managing forests after stand-replacing wildfires.
Forests provide a suite of goods and services that are vital to human health and livelihoods. Studies of ecosystem services, which frequently attempt to place a monetary value on forest processes and organisms, can help inform management decisions by providing a baseline for discussing the costs and benefits of different management options.
A recent study by Pacific Northwest Research Station researchers, Adelaide “Di” Johnson and Ryan Bellmore, along with retired Forest Service fisheries biologist Ron Medel and Alaska Department of Fish and Game fisheries biologist Stormy Haught, aimed to quantify the number and monetary value of commercially caught Pacific salmon from Alaska’s Tongass and Chugach National Forests. These two national forests contain some of the world’s largest remaining tracts of intact temperate rain forest.
Between 2007 and 2016, the Tongass and Chugach supported harvests of approximately 48 million salmon per year, valued at more than $88 million annually. This comprised approximately 25 percent of all commercially caught salmon in Alaska and 16 percent of its total monetary value. Quantitative information about the value of Alaska’s national forests for fish production can contribute to discussions about management decisions that might influence the capacity of these forests to sustain Pacific salmon in the future.
Understanding ownership effects on large wildfires is a precursor to the development of risk governance strategies that better protect people and property and restore fire-adapted ecosystems. We analyzed wildfire events in the Pacific Northwest from 1984 to 2018 to explore how area burned responded to ownership, asking whether particular ownerships burned disproportionately more or less, and whether these patterns varied by forest and grass/shrub vegetation types. While many individual fires showed indifference to property lines, taken as a whole, we found patterns of disproportionate burning for both forest and grass/shrub fires. We found that forest fires avoided ownerships with a concentration of highly valued resources - burning less than expected in managed US Forest Service forested lands, private non-industrial, private industrial, and state lands - suggesting the enforcement of strong fire protection policies. US Forest Service wilderness was the only ownership classification that burned more than expected which may result from the management of natural ignitions for resource objectives, its remoteness or both. Results from this study are relevant to inform perspectives on land management among public and private entities, which may share boundaries but not fire management goals, and support effective cross-boundary collaboration and shared stewardship across all-lands.