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Geography: Intermountain Region (R4)

FIRE-BIRD: A GIS tool for applying habitat suitability models to inform land management planning

Science Spotlights Posted on: September 04, 2019
To conserve and promote biological diversity, land managers must identify suitable habitat for species of conservation concern. Managers can then restrict potentially detrimental activities (e.g., salvage logging) to areas of lower habitat suitability, and target beneficial activities (e.g., restoration) where habitat suitability is higher. We developed FIRE-BIRD, an ArcGIS tool, to map habitat suitability for disturbance-associated woodpeckers of conservation concern to inform postfire management and restoration treatments in dry mixed-conifer forests. 

Using FIA data to predict forest understory vegetation structure

Science Spotlights Posted on: September 03, 2019
Understanding the structure of understory vegetation in forests is critical for estimating carbon stocks, fuel loading, and assessing wildlife habit. Using nationally collected inventory data shows promise in providing better estimates and assessments in these areas over large geographical regions.

Using “good” fires to reduce “bad” fire effects and smoke impacts

Science Spotlights Posted on: August 29, 2019
The broad consensus among fire and fuel scientists and managers is that we need to reduce hazardous fuel accumulations on many more acres to mitigate the risk and severity of wildfires. But mechanical fuel treatments are expensive! Prescribed fire is a more cost effective tool to reduce fuel loads and to restore and maintain fuel conditions to something closer to the historical norm.

Where the desert meets the river: Investigating southwestern riparian ecosystems

Science Spotlights Posted on: August 23, 2019
Rivers and streams of the American Southwest have been heavily altered by human activity, resulting in significant changes to disturbance regimes. Riparian vegetation in aridland floodplain systems is critically important as foraging, migrating, and breeding habitat to birds and other animal species. To conserve riparian ecosystems and organisms, understanding how plants and animals are affected by disturbance processes and multiple stressors is critical.

Big trees, bark beetles, goshawks, and timber

Science Spotlights Posted on: August 21, 2019
Throughout the Rocky Mountains over the last century, large ponderosa pine trees provided lumber for growing cities and towns, along with fuel and timber for the mining and railroad industries. Most of these forests are now occupied by dense young and mid-aged forests highly susceptible to being killed by bark beetles and burned by wildfires. These conditions have been exacerbated by fire suppression and urban encroachment. As a result, knowledge is needed to inform management actions directed at restoring and conserving ponderosa pine forests. 

To masticate or not: Useful tips for treating vegetation

Science Spotlights Posted on: August 21, 2019
Recently, several large fires have burned through masticated sites – including in Colorado (Brewer et al. 2013), Washington, and New Mexico. Burning under extreme weather conditions with strong winds, these fires have challenged the benefits of using mastication, even though mastication can provide many positive environmental effects, such as soil moisture retention and cool, moist environments for soil microbes. However, informing managers when, where, and how mastication is applied is based on antidotal evidence. To address, this issue we synthesized information to provide managers with a current state of knowledge on mastication.

Beetle pheromones and maple volatiles reduce spruce beetle attacks on spruce trees

Science Spotlights Posted on: August 21, 2019
The spruce beetle is the most significant mortality agent of spruce in western North America, and management options are limited. In cooperation with FHP partners, a novel combination of a beetle-produced pheromone (MCH) and compounds from a non-host (maple) tree (AKB) were shown to be repellent to spruce beetles. High-release rate MCH-AKB devices that are attached to live spruce can reduce spruce beetle attacks on individual trees and small groups of trees.

Milking milkweeds for more monarch butterfly habitat

Science Spotlights Posted on: August 19, 2019
Iconic monarch butterflies are disappearing from the landscape. They require milkweed plants to complete their life cycle. Milkweed seeds are often produced for restoration in nurseries in special beds. Our work shows that once these beds have served their purpose, milkweed taproots can be harvested, stored, and used for restoration, thus increasing the benefit of these beds.

Using drone imagery to census a rare desert plant

Science Spotlights Posted on: August 16, 2019
Census and monitoring are fundamental to rare plant conservation but can be expensive, labor-intensive, and damaging to fragile habitats. We developed a method using drone imagery to census populations of the endangered dwarf bear-poppy in its desert gypsum badland habitat and model its fine-scale habitat requirements. The drone can carry out a census in two days that would take two botanists a month to complete on the ground, with virtually no impact to fragile soils and biological crusts.

Back from the brink: Framework to sustain resilience to species at risk

Science Spotlights Posted on: August 14, 2019
The Regeneration for Resilience (R4R) framework provides a decision structure to prioritize limited resources and utilize seedling planting and natural regeneration management to offer the best likelihood of success in positioning stands and landscapes to support resilience self-sustaining tree populations that are threatened by invasive pests. Effective management of forest regeneration dynamics can increase forest resilience and adaptive capacity to mitigate impacts of invasive species.

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