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Paul F. Hessburg

Paul F. Hessburg
Senior Research Ecologist
Ecological Process and Function
1133 N Western Ave., Suites 108A-108C
Wenatchee, WA 98801-1229
United States
Phone
509-664-1722
Current Research
My current research focuses on four themes: the landscape and disturbance ecology of western US forests-past, present, and future, and climate change effects on forests, their wildfire resilience mechanisms, and the ecology and sociology of landscape restoration and adaptation.
Past Research
My past research has included:
  • Understanding 19th and 20th century forest landscape changes in the wUS
  • Understanding and comparing fire-vegetation dynamics of disturbance prone landscapes, past, present, and future
  • Developing decision support systems to better understand trade-offs and synergies in managed landscapes
  • Characterizing native fire regimes and landscape resilience and adaptation mechanisms
  • Understanding how hierarchical resilience mechanisms might be employed to adapt present landscapes to changing climatic and wildfire regimes
Research Interest
  • Hierarchical dimensions of pre-settlement and modern era landscapes
  • Landscape spatial patterns and connectivity relations
  • Impacts of landscape changes on successional conditions, disturbance processes, and habitats of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems
  • Anticipated climate change effects on 21st century landscapes and needed adaptations
Why This Research Is Important

The only landscape constant is change. Our research has demonstrated the need for whole-landscape planning, management, and conservation models. Prior to our efforts, restoration of fire-prone forests was defined at the stand scale, usually as a simple re-creation of site-specific conditions believed to have existed there a century ago. Our work has shifted the frame of reference from the stands to landscapes and their cross-connected pattern-process relations. This transforms the discussion from ‘Which trees should we leave in this stand?’ to ‘How do we create patterns of forest and nonforest conditions, and of forest structure and composition on the landscape that will better adapt conditions to shifting climatic and distubance regimes?’ Our research has enabled stakeholders, scientists, and managers to work together to transition current landscape conditions to those that are more in synch with changing climatic and wildfire regimes. 

Education
  • Oregon State University (Summa Cum Laude), Ph.D. Botany And Plant Pathology, Ecology and Epidemiology of Forest Pathogens, Forest Pathology, 1984
  • University of Minnesota (Magna Cum Laude), B.S. Forestry, Ecosystem Analysis and Silviculture, 1978
Professional Experience
  • Professor (Courtesy),  College of Forestry, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR,  2018 - Current
  • GS-408-15, Research Landscape Ecologist,  USDA-FS, PNW Research Station, EPF Program, LCI Team,  2008 - Current
  • Professor (Affiliate),  College of the Environment, SEFS, University of Washington, Seattle, WA,  2003 - Current
  • Professor (Affiliate),  Dept. of Nat. Res. Sciences, Washington State University, Pullman, WA,  2002 - Current
  • Professor (Affiliate),  Dept. of Forestry, Range, & Wildlife, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID ,  1994 - Current
  • Science Team Leader,  Eastside Forest Health Restoration Team, Managing Disturbance Regimes Program, PNW Research Station. ,  2002 - 2011
  • GS-408-14, Research Ecologist,  USDA-FS, PNW Research Station, MDR Program, East-side Forest Health Restoration Team,  2002 - 2007
  • GS-434-13, Research Plant Pathologist,  USDA-FS, PNW Research Station, MDR Program, East-side Forest Health Restoration Team,  1994 - 2002
  • Landscape Ecology Team Co-lead,  Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project, Walla Walla, WA. ,  1993 - 1997
  • Research and Development Team Co-lead,  Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project, Walla Walla, WA. ,  1993 - 1997
  • Landscape Assessment Lead,  Eastside Forest Ecosystem Health Assessment,  1992 - 1993
  • GS-434-12, Area Plant Pathologist,  Eastern Washington Zone, Wenatchee, WA.,  1990 - 1992
  • GS-434-12, Plant Pathologist,  Pacific Northwest Region, Portland, OR ,  1987 - 1990
  • GS-434-11, Plant Pathologist,  Pacific Northwest Region, Portland, OR,  1985 - 1987
  • GS-434-11, Plant Pathologist ,  Southwestern Region, Albuquerque, NM ,  1985 - 1985
  • GS-434-9, Plant Pathologist ,  Southwestern Region, Albuquerque, NM,  1984 - 1984
  • Graduate Research Assistant ,  Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR,  1978 - 1984
  • President,  Association of Fire Ecology (International),  2022 - Current
Professional Organizations
  • Director,  Chelan-Douglas Land Trust,  2019 - Current
  • Executive Council,  Chelan-Douglas Land Trust,  2003 - 2016
  • Chairman,  Chelan-Douglas Land Trust,  2003 - 2016
  • Director,  Chelan-Douglas Land Trust,  1998 - 2016
  • Vice President,  Association for Fire Ecology,  2010 - 2013
  • Director,  Association for Fire Ecology,  2008 - 2013
Awards & Recognition
  • USDA-FS Outstanding Performance Awards, 2021
    With certificate and time off or QSI awards, 2010, 2011, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021
  • USDA-FS, Superior Performance Awards, 2019
    43 awards, from 1984-2019
  • Distinguished Scientist, PNW Research Station, , 2017
    Station Director's Award
  • Distinguished Scientist, USDA-FS, Research and Development, 2017
    Deputy Chief of Research Award
  • USDA Science Findings , 2017
    Research Award, $10,000.00
  • USDA Science Update , 2017
    Research Award, $10,000.00
  • USDA Science Findings , 2015
    Research Award, $10,000.00
  • USDA Science Findings , 2014
    Research Award, $10,000.00
  • Wilberforce Fellowship , 2014
    Conservation Science Communication
  • USDA Science Findings , 2010
    Research Award, $10,000.00
  • USDA Science Update , 2005
    Research Award, $10,000.00
  • USDA Science Update , 2002
    Research Award, $10,000.00
  • USDA Science Findings , 1997
    Research Award, $10,000.00
  • Bayley Doctoral Research Fellow, College of Science, Oregon State University, 1984
    Awarded to the top doctoral student in the Colleges of Science
  • Bayley Doctoral Research Fellow, College of Science, Oregon State University, 1983
    Awarded to the top doctoral student in the Colleges of Science
Featured Publications
Other Publications
Citations of Non-Forest Service Publications
  • Churchill, D.J., Larson, A.J., Dahlgreen, M.C., Franklin, J.F. Hessburg, P.F., Lutz, J.A. 2013. Restoring forest resilience: from reference spatial patterns to silvicultural prescriptions and monitoring. Forest Ecology and Management 291: 442–457.
Research Highlights

Analyses of landscape management strategies for mixed-severity fire regime forests in Oregon, Washington, and Northern California leads to new management and policy paradigms for fire

Year: 2016
Nine strategies aimed at reconciling potentially conflicting management goals for forests having mixed-severity fire regimes are being used in discussions informing a variety of agency and collaborative planning efforts in the region.

Synthesis on Mixed-Conifer Forest Science Provides Scientific and Practical Guidance to Landscape Restoration

Year: 2015
Forest Service and university scientists developed a comprehensive synthesis of the best available science about mixed conifer forests in eastern Oregon and Washington. The synthesis calls for a significant change in the culture and emphasis of vegetation management projects in the region.

Seven Core Principles Can Guide Restoration of Fire-prone Inland Pacific Landscapes

Year: 2015
More than a century of forest and fire management of Inland Pacific landscapes has transformed their successional and disturbance dynamics. Current efforts to address these impacts yield a small footprint in comparison to wildfires and insect outbreaks. Moreover, many current projects emphasize thin...

Strategically-placed Fuel Treatments Contributes to Resilient Landscapes

Year: 2019
The 2014 Carlton Complex in north-central Washington was a “megafire.” It burned 167,000 acres within 24 hours, driven by strong warm winds through a drought-ridden landscape. By examining burn severity within the footprints of past fuel reduction treatments and prior wildfires, USDA Forest Service ...
https://www.fs.usda.gov/research/about/people/phessburg