My principle research involves understanding long-term forest productivity and landscape processes. My research studies include understanding the interaction of forest composition, structure, and disturbances of both dry (e.g., ponderosa pine) and moist forests (cedar/hemlock), determining fuel treatment efficacy for decreasing wildfire intensity and burn severity for cold (e.g., lodgepole), moist, and dry forests of the Rocky Mountains applicable from sites (stand) to landscapes, and determining the relations among snowshoe hare use, lynx presence, and forest composition and structure in cooperation with John Squires (RMRS). My research studies examine fuel treatment effectiveness during the Cascade Wildfires of central Idaho-2007: a 100-year fire event. I am also involved with research determining the relations among goshawk nest success, goshawk use (e.g., foraging), and forest structure and composition in cooperation with Rich Reynolds (RMRS) and Ron Rodriguez (R4).
Forests are dynamic and living constructs disturbed by a wide variety of native and introduced disturbances (e.g., fire, weather, insects, diseases) that result in highly heterogonous vegetative mosaics dispersed across an infinite number of biophysical settings. These forests also provide many goods and services that people of the world often depend on and cherish. As such my research interests are to produce understanding to this complexity and develop and package treatment alternatives (silvicultural systems) that can be used to sustain forests in the face of climate change while provide for the values that society demand.
My research embraces the theoretical, methodological, and holistic attributes of forest management. I have integrated and synthesized disparate studies and assessments covering a wide number of disciplines including silviculture, forest ecology, soil organic materials, and wildfire to name a few into systems and provided understanding that is useful to land management actions, policies, and/or laws locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. The breadth of my work is not limited to one forest type or locale but transcends the dry (e.g., ponderosa pine), moist (e.g., western hemlock) and cold (e.g., boreal-subalpine fir) forests located throughout western North America. My innovative ways of characterizing dynamic forest landscapes and uniquely relating them to northern goshawk habitat are widely used throughout the western United States, Western Europe, and western Canada to inform forest management. I lead the Interior Columbia Basin Science Team in completing the largest natural resource assessment of this detail ever attempted in the World. I went on to lead the Utah goshawk, Hayman Fire, Warm Lake Fire, Fourmile Canyon Fire, and Black Hills goshawk assessments and a national team that synthesized the science applicable to treating forest fuels. I led the development of the coarse woody debris (CWD) recommendations that used ectomycorrhizae as a bio-indicator and integrated microbiology, decomposition, biophysical setting, and forest development to provide recommended amounts of CWD to maintain forest productivity after disturbance for forests extending from Mexico through southern British Colombia and Alberta, Canada. I have encouraged the field of silviculture, which tends to be timber management centric, to explore new areas and provide silvicultural solutions for a wide variety of management objectives. In particular, I refined the concept of irregular (free) selection. These systems maintain high forest cover and heterogeneous forest conditions that are relevant to many contemporary forest management issues such as Canadian lynx, northern goshawks, old-growth, and sense-of-place.
Water, wildlife, fiber, sense-of-place, home sites, and many other forest values are important to US and World citizens. Wildfire is a common threat to both property and life and costs billions of dollars each year. The results and impacts of this line of research will have local to international relevance in providing knowledge to inform management decisions and policy actions that influence forest sustainability and the inherent values forests contain. The establishment and development of forests are long-term propositions and providing suggestions as to how they will develop along with disclosing the risks and uncertainties of their development is valuable to both present and future generations.