Jessica Halofsky wants to create tools and information people can use. Now as the head of not one, but two land management-based programs, the long-time academic researcher might have her chance.
Halofsky was recently named director of the U.S. Forest Service’s Western Wildlands Environmental Threat Assessment Center and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Northwest Climate Hub. In her role, she’ll be developing and delivering resources to help governmental agencies, nonprofit organizations, and private landowners apply the latest research in land management as it relates to changing climatic conditions.
"It’s a real opportunity to apply science to help people in their work as resource managers," Halofsky said. "Promoting adaptation across landscapes, such as managing forest densities to be more resilient to wildfire and drought or recommending seed sources better suited to predicted climates, can help sustain the benefits people and nature derive from the environment for centuries to come."
Halofsky has been studying climate effects on the environment for most of her career as an ecologist, specializing in shifts in fire regimes and vegetation growth cycles and range. Since 2008 as a scientist with the University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Science, she has been conducting applied research on wildfire, forest ecology, and climate change. For the last 12 years, she has been conducting climate change vulnerability assessments for the Forest Service, National Park Service and state agencies throughout the Pacific Northwest. "
Jessica has an extensive background working with land managers to address climate change and environmental threats," said Paul Anderson, acting director of the Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station. "Combining that network with the various groups associated with these two programs really broadens the opportunities for collaborating on projects and sharing knowledge and resources."
Climate adaptation specialist named director of assessment center, climate hub
The Western Wildlands Environmental Threat Assessment Center is managed by the Forest Service. Formed in 2005, its mission is to generate and integrate information to provide credible prediction, early detection, and quantitative assessment of environmental threats across the western United States. The center’s primary focus areas are wildfire risk and fuels management, landscape assessments, climate change, and invasive plants, insects and diseases.
Popular products of the Western Wildlands Environmental Threat Assessment Center include a repository of land management research associated with climate change, a computer model that assesses potential wildfire risks resulting from various vegetation management activities, and a mapping tool that helps land managers see existing environmental threats to better plan ways to adapt to or mitigate them.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Climate Hub program combines the efforts of all its agencies, which includes the Forest Service, to develop science-based, region-specific information and technologies to safeguard the nation’s food supply and protect its natural resources under increasing climate variability. The Northwest Climate Hub covers Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
Halofsky will be directing both programs in separate capacities to fulfill the distinct, but complementary, missions of each.
Halofsky holds a doctorate degree in forest ecology from Oregon State University in Corvallis, a master’s degree in forest resources from The Pennsylvania State University in University Park, and a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. She is stationed out of the Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station’s Olympia Forestry Sciences Laboratory in Washington.
“I’m passionate about this work,” Halofsky said. “There’s a lot of good science and information out there, and I’m looking forward to communicating it in a way that speaks to people so they can understand it and apply it directly to their work.”
Contact: Joyce El Kouarti (603) 953-4473, email@example.com
The Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center is a unit of the U.S. Forest Service. It provides information and develops resources to help land managers identify and mitigate environmental threats from uncharacteristically severe wildfires, invasive plants, insects and diseases, and impacts from changing climatic conditions. For more information, visit www.fs.fed.us/wwetac.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Climate Hubs are a unique collaboration across the department’s agencies, led by the Agricultural Research Service and U.S. Forest Service. Climate Hubs are located across 10 geographic regions to provide region-specific, science-based information and technology to safeguard the nation’s food supply and natural resources under increased climatic variability. For more information, visit www.climatehubs.usda.gov.