Urban Field Station Locations
The Network is comprised of Urban Field Stations and place-based urban research locations throughout the country. These locations serve and extend expertise on behalf of the entire Forest Service and USDA, not only Forest Service Research & Development. Each location offers significant expertise, a substantial collaborator and stakeholder network, and projects ranging from local to national scales. Across locations, these partners and projects are linked together in a robust network advancing knowledge and application.
Collectively, the Urban Field Station Network represents a robust platform for cooperative research and extension via hallmark practices:
Advancing knowledge co-production: The Urban Field Stations have been responsible for advancing knowledge co-production itself –the idea that scientists, practitioners, and the community work together to do everything from define the questions to apply results. Because scientists and practitioners often have different scales of questions, timelines, and funding streams, it takes intense collaboration, trust-building, and responsiveness to work effectively together, and yet the results directly translate into improving lives on the ground.
Long-term social-ecological research: Long-term ecological data collection has long been understood as critical to understanding trends and detecting change over time in rural forests; Urban Field Stations now provide a social-ecological parallel in urban areas, which are increasingly converging with rural, and where social systems are understood to be inextricably interlinked with ecological. The insights these datasets yield become ever more important as our sustainability challenges mount and practitioners request information; continued science-based decision-making helps us collectively navigate toward a resilient future. The Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES), San Juan Urban Long-Term Research Area (ULTRA),and the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Area Long-Term Ecological Research Program are premiere examples of the benefits and insights from long-term urban research.
Pilot, Prototype, Production Model: The Urban Field Stations employ a model whereby a project is co-developed in a single location, with the idea that knowledge and insight on a local level can be shared more broadly, and that barriers dismantled or methodologies developed in one location help catalyze possibilities across our national and global network of communities.
Knowledge Exchange Academies: The Urban Field Stations continue to co-develop and co-host knowledge exchange academies on a variety of topics, including urban wood, urban natural areas, i-Tree and more. Academies bring together expertise across sectors and geographies and help to advance knowledge and best practices, on regional to international scales.
Urban Field Stations
Located on the campus of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, the Baltimore Field Station has close ties to the University’s Center for Urban Environmental Research and Education (CUERE). Additionally, the Field Station plays a significant role in the Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES), which is a former long-term ecological research (LTER) project of the National Science Foundation that continues in an evolved form. Baltimore’s expertise includes Urban Tree Canopy Assessments, Environmental Justice, soils and aquatic ecosystems, forested natural areas, the wildland urban interface, and more.
The Chicago Urban Field Station’s origins date to the late 1970s and expanded in the 1990s when the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie was established in the Greater Chicago region. The Field Station advances collaboration among local partners, including Chicago Wilderness, The Field Museum, the Chicago Region Trees Initiative and many others. Chicago’s expertise includes urban greening and psychological well-being, vacant landscape and greenway restoration.
The Denver Urban Field Station represents collaboration among USGS, the Colorado State Forest Service, and many more. It explores connections between people and nature and the role of vegetation in semi-arid cities, towns, and developing regions of the Intermountain West and Great Plains. Denver’s expertise includes the dynamics and ecosystem services in the wildland urban interface, stewardship and civic engagement, and resilience, health and well-being.
The Los Angeles Center for Urban Natural Resources Sustainability (“LA Urban Center”) operates through a partnership among the USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region and Research Station and the City of Los Angeles (City Plants and Recreation and Parks). Joining in this collaboration are the many Federal, State, and local government partners as well as academia, industry, private, and non-profit organizations concerned with urban natural resources and socioecological resilience. LA’s expertise includes tree canopy cover, stewardship, and climate-ready trees.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul Urban Field Station was established in 2021, adding to the longstanding Forest Service institutional presence in the region. The Urban Field Station plays a significant role in a new Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Area Long-Term Ecosystem Research (LTER) Program established by the National Science Foundation, the first of its kind in the Midwest and only the third in the country. The $7.1 million grant from the National Science Foundation will focus on the dynamics of urban nature and the urban social system in the face of rapid environmental and social change, adding critical knowledge to society’s ability to navigate the significant sustainability challenges of the century. Minneapolis’s expertise includes urban climate change vulnerability, response frameworks, and adaptation guides.
New York City
The New York City Urban Field Station is primarily co-located with New York City Parks and is also anchored by an institutional relationship with New York City Parks and the Natural Areas Conservancy. The New York City Urban Field Station is the only location that currently has residential housing available for visiting scientists and scholars. New York City’s expertise includes environmental governance and stewardship, urban forest health, urban- and climate-adapted silviculture, advancing knowledge through through science and art, and the use, value and meaning of urban nature.
The Philadelphia Urban Field Station is co-located with the Pennsylvania Horticultural (PHS) society and works with several partner organizations including PHS, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Davey Institute to develop research that is responsive to management needs. Philadelphia’s expertise includes urban tree growth and morality, field-based monitoring, forest fragments, and the effect of greening on public health and safety.
The San Juan Urban Field Station aims to develop and deliver knowledge on urban social-ecological systems and the adaptation of practices that lead to sustainable, resilient, equitable, and healthy urban environments. It is anchored by the USDA Forest Service’s International Institute of Tropical Forestry and the San Juan Urban Long-Term Research Area (ULTRA), which is a collaborative research network composed of multiple academic institutions, public agencies, non-profit partners, and community leaders, which seeks to conduct and support research about the city of San Juan as a social-ecological system.
Co-located with the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and part of the Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center, the Springfield Urban Field Station anchors work around restoring aquatic habitats, understanding and restoring biodiversity in urban, suburban, and residential landscapes, advancing education and tools to support urban tree canopy cover, improving disaster preparedness and resilience, and advancing environmental justice and community engagement.