A fuels reduction treatment near Worden, Oregon. Photo courtesy of Joshua Petitmermet, Oregon State University.
The commercial use of low-value forest-origin biomass has long been considered for its potential to offset the cost of reducing wildfire hazard. The production of biochar simultaneously consumes low-value forest biomass and produces stable charcoal that, when applied to dryland agricultural soils, can increase water holding capacity and crop yield.
A severely burned area of the 2015 Boulder Creek Fire, British Columbia, one year later. High-severity fires historically were rare in this forest type; three have occurred since 2015 in this Canadian province. Photo courtesy of Kate Peterson.
British Columbia, Canada, experienced 3 years with notably large and severe wildfires since 2015. Multiple stand-replacing wildfires occurred in coastal–transitional forests, where large fires are typically rare.
Eldorado National Forest, California. USDA Forest Service photo by Paul Wade.
California is using its forests to combat climate change. Trees absorb and store atmospheric carbon dioxide—a greenhouse gas of concern—in woody tissue, leaves, and roots, collectively referred to as forest biomass. More than a century of fire suppression complicates managing forest carbon in California's dry forests.
Aftermath of the 2007 Tripod Fire in Washington. USDA Forest Service photo by Susan Prichard.
The mixed-severity fire regime of western Oregon forests creates a complex mosaic with patches of low, moderate, and high tree mortality across the landscape. Conversion of old-growth forests to plantations and postfire salvage logging are widespread land uses that dramatically affect forest structure, volume of biomass, and carbon stocks.
Knobcone pine. Photo courtesy of Matt Reilly.
Vegetation in fire-prone ecosystems evolved to handle frequent fire. Many coniferous species in these environments, for example, have serotinous cones that open when heated to release seeds on bare, fire-cleared soil.
Close up of female dwarf mistletoe and berries. USDA Forest Service photo by Raymond Davis.
Dwarf mistletoe’s quaint name belies its severity. The native parasitic plant commonly infects western hemlock trees in western Oregon and Washington via projectile seeds that land on branches and bore through the tree’s bark, where the plant induces tissue swelling and deformities.
Researchers can calculate aboveground biomass and identify tree species from this type of 3-dimensional imagery. Image courtesy of Mike Alonzo.
Alaska’s boreal forests are vast and remote, making it challenging to accurately monitor forest structures and conditions.
The same lichen Evernia prunastri, “Antlered perfume,” growing in an unpolluted (left) vs polluted (right) area. Left: Photo courtesy of Richard Droker. Right: USDA Forest Service photo by Sarah Jovan.
Air pollution poses a major threat to human and environmental health in many parts of the world. Pollutants with nitrogen and sulfur can be particularly harmful to natural ecosystems. Critical loads of atmospheric deposition help decisionmakers identify levels of air pollution harmful to ecosystem components.
Oregon has 30 million acres of forest.
The state of Oregon approached the Pacific Northwest Research Station for help in developing a reliable forest carbon accounting framework to support policy development and monitoring. Oregon has 30 million acres of forest that cover roughly half of the state.
In 2013, the Rim Fire burned a large area across the Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park during the second year of the most extreme drought in the historical record. Like other large fires in Sierra Nevada mixed-conifer forests, broad areas of the Rim Fire burned at higher severity than would have occurred historically.