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Science You Can Use 2020

Delivering scientific information to those making and influencing land management decisionsImage of the front cover of three Science You Can Use publications from 2019.

The bimonthly Science You Can Use Bulletin and our NEW Science You Can Use (in 5 minutes) are Rocky Mountain Research Station publications providing synthesized scientific information for high-priority management needs. The publications on this page synthesize research conducted by station scientists and collaborators in 2020 and deliver key science findings and management implications to people who make and influence decisions about managing land and natural resources. 

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Contact the editor, Nehalem Clark, with questions, comments, or suggestions.

The bulletin is distributed electronically to resource professionals, partners and collaborators throughout the Intermountain West and beyond.

Science You Can Use (in 5 minutes) | Science You Can Use Bulletins | Connected Science

Science You Can Use (in 5 minutes) from 2020

Firefighters looking on as fire burns on the floor of a forest
FireCLIME VA: A New Fire and Climate Vulnerability Assessment Tool for the U.S. Southwest

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Science You Can Use (in 5 minutes)

December 2020

The FireCLIME VA tool is a new resource that allows land managers to compare management strategies under various climate scenarios and to gauge the potential effectiveness of those strategies.
An adult and young Mexican Spotted Owl sitting together in a tree
MSO 101: A Synthesis of the Ecology of the Mexican Spotted Owl Keeps On Giving

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Science You Can Use (in 5 minutes)

December 2020

A comprehensive general technical report summarizes essential information on the status and ecology of the Mexican spotted owl found in the Upper Gila Mountains Recovery Unit.
Mexican spotted owl sitting on a large branch
Location, Location, Location. Scale, Scale, Scale: Mexican Spotted Owl Habitat

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Science You Can Use (in 5 minutes)

December 2020

Using the appropriate modeling tools can save managers time and effort and help them design restoration efforts that are best suited for a given area.
People sit at a table in a meeting hall working on large posters

Hearing Every Voice in the Room: Social Science for Public Engagement During Forest PlanningDownload

Science You Can Use (in 5 minutes)

November 2020

A recent report describes how Q methodology can collect stakeholder input in a way that is engaging, thorough, and scientifically rigorous.
Screenshot of the Landscape Change Monitoring System desktop

New Landscape Change Monitoring System Tool Helps Us Understand and Visualize Landscape-Level Changes Over TimeDownload

Science You Can Use (in 5 minutes)

October 2020

The new Landscape Change Monitoring System is an important new dataset and tool allows the user to understand how forest conditions have changed over time. 

A map showing Idaho with various shades of red and orange to indicate fire risk.

A New Community-Based Tool to Assess Wildfire RiskDownload

Science You Can Use (in 5 minutes)

September 2020

The Wildfire Risk to Communities website is a one-stop resource where citizens and community leaders can assess the wildfire risk of their area and find resources to reduce that risk. 

A small, flowering Holmgren's milkvetch plant growing in the desert.

Saving Holmgren's Milkvetch: A New Approach for Imperiled Species ManagementDownload

Science You Can Use (in 5 minutes)

September 2020

This research has identified the most promising introduction sites for Holmgren’s milkvetch and has recently demonstrated that new populations can be established through direct seeding. 

A rendered image of a forest with a line of fire entering the forest from the bottom.

New Conversion of FIA Data Simplifies Use in Forest Vegetation SimulatorDownload

Science You Can Use (in 5 minutes)

September 2020

A breakthrough in data translation and conversion combines the power of two forestry analysis tools in answering forestry management questions.  

A firefighter is walking away from the camera, pulling a yellow fire hose. Alongside the firefighter, many trees in a forest are on fire, and the whole scene is smoky.

The Wildfire SAFE App: Delivering Real-Time Data to Improve Wildfire ManagementDownload

Science You Can Use (in 5 minutes)

August 2020

The Wildfire SAFE app provides real-time predictions of wildfire conditions with real-world use on the fire line. 

Dead trees in the foreground with the South Fork Flathead River in the background.

Watering the Forests for the Trees: Water Yield and Changes in Forest CoverDownload

Science You Can Use (in 5 minutes)

August 2020

Forest cover loss may decrease water yield, particularly following nonstand-replacing disturbance in semi-arid western forests.

Pinyon and juniper expansion in central Nevada. Photo by Jeanne Chambers, USDA FS

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New Science Synthesis to Inform Pinyon and Juniper Woodlands Management in the Western United States

Science You Can Use (in 5 minutes)

July 2020

Pinyon and juniper woodlands occupy over 70,000 square miles of the Great Basin and Colorado Plateau. In some areas, pinyon and juniper woodlands are expanding into other vegetation types, like sagebrush steppe.

Photo of sagebrush forbs

New California Plateaus Science Synthesis: Science Supporting Dry Forest and Rangeland Planning

Science You Can Use (in 5 minutes)

June 2020

The newly published RMRS-GTR-409 completes the scientific picture that will inform forest plan revisions on the Lassen and Modoc National Forests.

A photo of a chinook salmon with red spawning colors, in a shallow section of river where it sits with only its underside in the water.

Rethinking the Possible: Applying Long-Term Datasets to Estimate Historic Salmon Abundance in the Middle Fork Salmon River

Science You Can Use (in 5 minutes)

June 2020

Looking into the past can help biologists and managers determine what is possible in the future.

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Warmer and Drier: How Vulnerable Are Southwestern U.S. Ecosystems to Climate Change?

Science You Can Use (in 5 minutes)

May 2020

The most arid region of the United States—the Southwest—is expected to become even warmer and drier in the future as the climate changes, according to several global climate models.

A map labeled \"NRV Status\" with red (outside NRV), yellow (trending toward), and green (within NRV) areas.

Vulnerable, Valuable, Variable: Science-Based Assessments of Riparian and Groundwater-Dependent EcosystemsDownload

Science You Can Use (in 5 minutes)

May 2020

Small Area, Big Importance: The Rocky Mountain Research Station worked with the Forest Service Intermountain Region to co-develop targeted riparian mapping and assessments.

A researcher crouches near a stream with eDNA sampling equipment.

One Year After Launch, eDNAtlas Proves Its WorthDownload

Science You Can Use (in 5 minutes)

May 2020

With its interactive interface and crowdsourcing approach, the eDNAtlas is providing researchers with an unprecedented opportunity to determine where organisms are located on the landscape.

A two-panel image, one showing a plot planted with conventional seed mix and one with native seed mix after 16 years. Both show little cheatgrass.
 

Post-fire Native Species Seed Mixes Are Effective at Keeping Out Cheatgrass in the Great BasinDownload

Science You Can Use (in 5 minutes)

April 2020

Choosing a post-fire seed mixture can be challenging: For managers, choosing the right seed mix to seed an area after a fire can be tricky. In this long-term study, native seed mixes were successful in suppressing invasive cheatgrass.

A stand of trees damaged by bark beetles, with smaller trees regenerating beneath.

Taking the Long View: Mountain Pine Beetles as Agents of ChangeDownload

Science You Can Use (in 5 minutes)

March 2020

A Story of Changing Forests: Mountain pine beetles are a contant presence in the Rocky Mountain Region. Outbreaks are generally seen as negative, but this research shows that there have also been positive aspects of the epidemic.

short grass steppe, pinyon juniper

Asking "What-if" Questions: New ST-Sim Tool Helps Managers Forecast Future Rangeland ConditionsDownload

Science You Can Use Tool

February 2020

Unforeseen Events and Climate Variability: How do land management decisions shape landscapes decades into the future? With the influence of climate change and its associated stressors, it’s an increasingly thorny question.

Tall old trees on top of a hill

Morphology Is Better Than Size for Revealing a Tree’s Age on Colorado’s Front RangeDownload

Science You Can Use (in 5 minutes)

January 2020

In Colorado’s Front Range, restoring fire-dependent ponderosa forests is a management priority often informed by understanding the historical structure and ecological function of these forests. Retention of old ponderosa pine trees within restored stands provides forests with a diversity of age structure, genetics, and resilience to low to moderate severity wildfires.

   

Science You Can Use Bulletins from 2020

Two owls sitting together  in a tree

Through the Smoke: Spotted Owls, Wildfire, and Forest Restoration​
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Science You Can Use Bulletin  

November/December 2020  

Leer en EspañolIn the Southwest, scientists and managers are working together to find ways to reduce the risk of future megafires while also maintaining critical nesting habitat for Mexican spotted owls.
Heavy machinery with a large round mulcher

Is Mastication Right for Your Site? Science-Based Decision Trees for Forest Managers
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Science You Can Use Bulletin

October/November 2020

Scientists and land managers describe the potential benefits of mastication as a forest management tool and present a set of decision trees that can guide land managers in choosing the right treatment option for a particular site and management objective.

 

Setting sun turning smoke clouds pink over a field

Know Your Smoke: Updated Smoke Modeling Tool Estimates Higher Particulate Emissions From Wildfire Than Previously Predicted​
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Science You Can Use Bulletin

October/November 2020

An updated emission factor database provides emission factors for nearly 200 gaseous and particulate pollutants emitted by wildland fires. 

A piece of heavy machinery surrounded by rocky debris

Resources for Postfire Response: Empowering Land Managers with New After Fire Toolkit
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Science You Can Use Bulletin

October/November 2020

The After Fire Toolkit provides managers, landowners, and communities with online guidance for assessing and preventing potential damage due to postfire flooding and related events

Aerial photo of a forest overlaid with rainbow colors showing elevation

Where's the Biomass? A New Approach for Quantifying Biomass and Carbon in the Western United States
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Science You Can Use Bulletin

September/October 2020

A brand-new Carbon Monitoring System (CMS) developed by RMRS researchers promises to be a valuable resource to support the U.S. Forest Service’s Shared Stewardship Initiative’s goals and policy makers calculating carbon budgets.

Looking directly up into the tree canopy, tree branches silhouetted against visible sky.

“It’s All Up From Here”: Forest Openings and Seedling Growth in Western White Pine Restoration
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Science You Can Use Bulletin

July/August 2020

Over a decade of research by Rocky Mountain Research Station scientists is now providing updated guidelines for regenerating and establishing white pine on the landscape by focusing on factors such as forest openings and visible sky. 

A closeup of a gloved hand in a stream holding a funnel attached to a hose.

Black and White and Shed All Over: How eDNA Analysis Can Help to Answer Your Species QuestionsDownload

Science You Can Use Bulletin

May/June 2020

Keeping tabs on the whereabouts of invasive or endangered species in the landscape is an important job for managers. Today, there is a powerful new approach that can help: environmental DNA. 

A researcher in protective equipment measures the diameter of a tree.

Making Sense of Big Data: Putting Forest Inventory and Analysis to Work in Forest PlanningDownload

Science You Can Use Bulletin

March/April 2020

Rocky Mountain Research Station scientists, the Forest Inventory & Analysis program, and National Forest land managers and planners partner together to improve Forest Planning processes and goals.

 

Connected Science from 2020

A fire-scarred ponderosa pine sample from Hall Ranch Open Space, Boulder County, CO. Tree rings are visible with associated dates indicated.

Looking Into the Past: How Reconstructing Historical Forest Conditions Can Help Future Restoration EffortsDownload

Connected Science

November 2020

How can we restore ponderosa pine-dominated forests today to make them more resilient to future fires given this quandary: no one alive today remembers what these places looked like in the past, and records about these forests are limited?

A map of strategic response zones on the Tonto National Forest

When the Fire Starts: A Science-Based Framework for Risk-Based Incident ResponseDownload

Connected Science

September 2020

Potential Operational Delineations (PODs) is a spatial wildfire planning framework that brings together operational fire responses and landscape management goals from Forest Planning documents.