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Deborah S. Page-Dumroese

Deborah S. Page-Dumroese
Research Soil Scientist
Forest and Woodland Ecosystems
1221 South Main Street
Moscow, ID 83843
United States
Current Research

My current research involves the following, self-described studies: The North American Long-Term Productivity Study which uses a common experimental design in major forest types across North America. This study involves intensive pre- and post-harvest sampling and a commitment to ensure long-term data collection set this study apart from many local/regional studies. I have the only three installations of the LTSP study in RMRS, many of which are approaching 20 years old. The experimental design is a 3x3 factorial of soil compaction and organic matter removal and I would welcome other researchers to use these plots.

Below ground processes: Organic matter is the key to site productivity because of its roles in nutrient cycling, soil water availability, disease incidence or preventation, and aggregate stability. Organic matter decomposition is controlled by the same soil factors that affect plant growth - waterm, nutrients, pH, and temperature. A number of studies have shown a strong relationship between organic matter decomposition rates and site productivity. Forest management proctices can greatly impact organic matter decomposition, which could affect tree growth and site productivity. Consequently, organic matter decomposition is being used as an index of forest management effects (both positive and negative) in long-term soil productivity studies being conducted in various parts of North America and Canada. In addition, projected climate change scenarios would also have a pronounced effect on soil organic matter decomposition rates. I use standard wood stakes (P. taeda and P. tremuloides) to determine how management, (site preparation, fire fertilization, etc.), temperature, and moisture may impact below ground processes (organic matter decomposition) in many different soil types. I have a worldwide network of sites in various ecosystems. Ancillary studies on these sites include the importance of ants and termites and how they redistribute OM, C, N, and other nutrients above- and below-ground.

Soil Disturbance Monitoring: In cooperation with several other Research Stations, National Forest Systems, industry, and B.c. Ministry of Forest Soil Scientists I developed a Forest Soil Disturbance Monitoring Protocol that is being used across the U.S. and in other countries on forested landscapes. The new protocol defines consistent terminology, is statistically valid, and provides a common method for describing soil disturbance from management activities.

Environmental consequences of biomass utilization and biochar additions: We are determining the feasibility of using in-woods fast pyrolysis to turn excess forest biomass into bio-oil, syn-gas, and biochar. Biochar can be applied to forest sites to improve water holding capacity and reducing nutrient leaching through the mineral soil profile. My work also evlaauates biochar-coated seed, pelleted biochar, and methods of applying char to forest sites.

Past Research

Past research has focused on long-term soil productivity, maintenance of surface organic matter, and ensuring healthy ecosystems that are resilient to fire, insects, and disease.

Research Interest

My research interests center around maintaining soil productivity during and after land management activities and include the following: carbon sequestration, harvest methods, site preparation, and fire impacts on soil chemical, biological, and physical properties. I also study biochar impacts, biomass utilization, nutrient cycling, long-term productivity, organic matter, and how temperature and moisture regulate decomposition processes.

Biochar spreader:  In partnership with the Missoula Technology Development Center (Keith Windell) and Dr. Nate Anderson (RMRS, Missoula) we have developed a biochar spreader to easily distribute biochar on forest sites.  See the spreader in action at this link:

Why This Research Is Important

eUnderstanding the linkages between harvesting, soil quality, organic matter, and decomposition are important for knowing what management options are possible for different ecosystems. Improving stand resilitency to fire, insects, disease, and drought will help maintain soil and site productivity as climate changes.

  • Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI, B.S., Natural Resource Management, 1982
  • Michigan Technological University, Houghton, M.S., Forest Soils, 1985
  • University of Idaho, Moscow, Ph.D., Forest Soils, 1988
Professional Experience
  • Supervisory Research Soil Scientist,  Rocky Mountain Research Station,  2007 - 2012
  • Supervisory Research Soil Scientist/Project Leader,  Rocky Mountain Research Station,  1999 - 2005
  • Research Soil Scientist/Project Leader,  Rocky Mountain Research Station and Intermountain Research Station,  1988 - 2005
Professional Organizations
  • Member,  European Geophysical Union,  2005 - Current
    same as committee membership
  • 2013 Site Host,  North American Forest Soils,  1988 - Current
    Site host and coordinator.
  • Member,  Society of American Foresters (SAF),  1988 - Current
    Local and national committee chair. Serve as assistant editor of Forest Science.
  • Peer Reviewer,  Soil Science Society of America,  1988 - Current
    Review papers, judge student presentations at meeting
Awards & Recognition
  • National Silviculture Award, 2019
    For publications, presentations, on-site conversion of woody residues to bio-energy, and being at the fore-front of assisting national forests with their soil management needs.
  • Jim Sedell Research Achievement Award/Rise to the Future, 2018
    In recognition of your outstanding contributions to soil and natural resource management in the Pacific Northwest through science.
  • Eminent Science Publication, 2018
    for a body of work that provides tools, concepts, and a broad science foundation to land managers
  • Honorable Mention: Chief's Award in Sustaining our Nation's Forests and Grasslands, 2017
    For your work on converting woody residues into biochar to improve soil resilience in a changing climate
  • Alumnus of the Year - Michigan Technological University, 2015
    For outstanding science, long-term collaborations, and student mentoring.
  • Bridge Building Award from the University of Idaho, 2009
    Awarded for fostering collaboration between the Forest Service and University of Idaho faculty, staff, and students.
  • Student Paper Award, 2009
    Best student paper award at the 6th International BIOGEOMON meeting in Helsinki, Finland. This paper was co-authored by Sven Wirthner.
  • Rise to the Future Award, 2008
    Awarded by National Forest Systems. Recognized my contributions to soil monitoring as the National Field Soil Scientist
  • Extra Effort Award, 2008
    For superior assistance and participation in the soil Network (SoilNet) charter and the Northern Region Soil Disturbance Monitoring Protocol.
Featured Publications
Other Publications
Research Highlights

Using Biochar to Improve Soil Quality on Decommissioned Roads

Year: 2016
U.S. National Forests have more than 380,000 miles of roads. Many of these roads are over 25 years old, sub-standard, compacted, and invaded with non-native plant species. Roads that are decommissioned need to be restored so that they recover their hydrologic function, soil productivity, and native ...

Making biochar with waste woody biomass

Year: 2017
Forest restoration treatments create tons of waste residues that are normally burned in slash piles that damage the soil and cause pollution. Forest Service research outlines several low-tech methods to make biochar on-site, including building better slash piles. These newer techniques prevent soil...

Restoring abandoned mine soil with organic amendments

Year: 2017
Restoring abandoned mine sites with no environmental hazard or chemical contamination can be expensive because of the inhospitable (hot, dry) environment. However, the large number of abandoned mine sites located across the west make it imperative to begin restoration activities to help shade strea...

National Soil Assessment for Forest and Rangeland Soils

Year: 2020
Soils take thousands of years to develop, but they can lose their ability to contribute ecosystem services in a fraction of that time. A number of disturbances compound the vulnerability of forest and rangeland soils across the United States. A new open access book synthesizes current soil research,...

New protocols help understand changing soils

Year: 2011
Forest Service scientists have met the challenge of developing meaningful soil quality standards that can evaluate the full range of variability found in forest soils.

Maintaining Long-term Productivity of Inland Northwest Forests After Bioenergy Harvesting

Year: 2016
As the U.S. moves towards a more green economy, it is critical to understand the long-term impacts of harvest operations on both above and below ground productivity. Research at the Coram Experimental Forest points to resilient western larch forests in the cool-moist climatic regime that can fully r...

Development of a Forest Biochar Spreader

Year: 2016
Biochar can be used to restore forest, range, or mine soils by adding organic matter, providing buffer from droughts or floods by increasing water holding capacity, and sequester carbon. Forest Service scientists and their partners developed and tested a high-capacity biochar spreader to reduce the ...