Professor Ernesto Alvarado Presents Paper at Cuba Conference

Earlier this month, Professor Ernesto Alvarado spent two weeks in Havana, Cuba, as part of a team from the U.S. Forest Service, and he co-presented a paper on wildfires and climate change at the X International Convention on Environment and Development, held July 6 to 10.

With the recent re-opening of diplomatic relations between the two countries, the Forest Service International Programs from Washington, D.C., sponsored the trip as part of the federal government’s efforts to initiate collaboration on environmental topics with Cuba. Joining Alvarado from the Forest Service were Dr. Armando González-Cabán from Riverside, Calif. (who co-presented the paper with Alvarado) and Alexandra Zamecnik, program manager for the Forest Service International Programs.

Alvarado says the presentation was well received and generated interest in promoting future collaboration possibilities in Cuba and other countries in the region. The team also met with staff from environmental institutions and organizations to identify key areas of interest for collaboration on environmental management and protection, and to strengthen cooperation on scientific research on related fields.

2015_07_Ernesto in Cuba

SEFS to Host Annual Biofuels Meeting

Coming up this September, the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS) will be hosting the annual meeting of the Advanced Hardwood Biofuels Northwest (AHB) research consortium.

Led by SEFS, AHB is comprised of university and industry partners across the Pacific Northwest, and the consortium is working to prepare Washington, Oregon, Northern California and Northern Idaho for a sustainable hardwood bioproducts and biofuels industry. So this three-day meeting will bring together contributors from ZeaChem and GreenWood Resources, as well as faculty members from UC Davis, the University of Idaho, Oregon State, Washington State University, WSU Extension and Walla Walla Community College.

The meeting begins on Tuesday, September 8, with a tour of the SEFS biofuels and bioproducts laboratories. The next two days, held over at the Center for Urban Horticulture, will include a review of current research projects and talks from the different contributors and partners.

If you’d like to learn more about AHB, contact Laura Davis, and we will have more information about the meeting closer to September.

UW Farm Opens Produce Stand!

Starting this Friday, July 24, the UW Farm would like to announce the opening of a farm produce stand, and they’re inviting you to come support their volunteer-driven agricultural enterprise! Enjoy seasonal, sustainably sourced, picked-that-morning fresh produce grown just two miles away, along with great music, refreshments and delicious seasonal recipe ideas.

2015_07_Farm Stand1From tomorrow through the rest of the summer, the UW Farm will be meeting Fridays from 4 to 7 p.m. in the Fisheries Supply parking lot at 1900 N. Northlake Way. The stand is right along the Burke-Gilman Trail and directly across from the Gasworks Park parking lot—which means easy pedestrian, bicycle and car access. It’s cash only, and they have canvass bags for sale.

So keep an eye out for their stand on Fridays, and stop by for some fresh veggies and support a fantastic program!

Poster © UW Farm.

Tell Us: Favorite Memories of Anderson Hall

In the last issue of Roots, our alumni e-newsletter, we asked our graduates to tell us about their favorite memories of Anderson Hall. Here’s what Jenniffer Bakke, (’03, B.S.), who is now a wildlife biologist for Hancock Forest Management in Independence, Ore., recalls about her time in Anderson (when she was Jenniffer Holt):

2015_07_TellUs3“My memories of Anderson Hall run the full spectrum from the dark and cold basement classrooms to the bright and inviting Forest Club Room. One quarter, I had two or three classes in Anderson Hall, so I spent A LOT of time roaming those halls. As I think back to those years, most of my memories developed in the Forest Club Room, and I loved how the Forest Club met in the balcony. Speaking of which, I met my now-husband on that balcony at a Forest Club meeting. The room has so many windows, and the sun could be so bright at times. Those were the days I silently cursed having to study when I desperately wanted to be sunning myself next to the fountain. I remember several Forest Club parties in there, and that room where I laughed with my friends until late into the night (or until we were politely asked to wrap it up).

Perhaps my most poignant memory of that room is after the 2003 graduation ceremony. As I introduced my parents and brothers to all the friends I’d made over the previous three years, and amid all the celebration and congratulatory remarks, I couldn’t help but realize that I probably wouldn’t see the inside of that room for many years.”

***

For the next issue of Roots, we’re asking alumni to tell us: What was your favorite spot on campus—a place to study, to eat lunch, to go for a walk? We’ll feature one or more response in the next issue of Roots, and also right here on the “Offshoots” blog. Please email submissions—of no more than 250 words—to sefsalum@uw.edu, and we’ll follow up to ask for a photo if your letter is accepted and published.

Photos © Jenniffer Bakke.

Director’s Message: Summer 2015

In mid-June, on a visit to the Olympic Natural Resources Center out in Forks, Wash., I had the opportunity to tour the Hoh River Trust lands on the Olympic Peninsula. The Trust purchased and set aside these lands, which cover about 7,000 acres, during the last 20 years. The goal was to preserve the beauty of the 56-mile Hoh River that runs through the heart of the property, and create a zone of ecological integrity along the watershed.

Much of the area had been heavily managed in the previous 80 years, passing from small landowners to timber companies and ultimately to the Trust, and the forest is still managed today. In general, timber is being harvested at a sustainable rate and in a manner that supports continuous cover and habitat between harvest entries—and with an eye toward long-term habitat restoration and improvement. You have to marvel at the sheer size of some of the older stumps, and while I know it will take many, many years to restore the forest to the grandeur of those historical stands, I also know that much of that potential hinges on how we manage the forest today.

2015_07_Summer_HohSo the forest isn’t ‘idle,’ and neither is the land. It is an intense and ever-changing ecosystem driven by the hydraulic power of the Hoh River and the forces of fire and wind. One of the original European homesteads on the land has been lost to bank erosion from the river shifting across the floodplain at an average rate of about 20 feet per year, drawing rocks, trees, house and soil into the river, and leaving behind fresh-cut bank with exposed roots and burrow holes—all to be washed away in the next large runoff event. Amazingly, a day before our tour, two fires had broken out in this wet part of Washington in June, and one was still burning more than 20 days later. The lesson: Landscapes are incredibly dynamic, whether they experience constant human intervention or none at all. Such dynamism is found everywhere in nature, and our ability to address and work with these forces requires us to explore and understand ecological systems in their entirety.

Rural communities, with their interdependency on nearby forests and links to regional cities and international markets, also display complex dynamism. In those environments, creating a more integrated ecological and community system adds an additional layer of complexity—and also risk. Matching timber maturity and harvest scheduling with ecological objectives, for instance, can lead to cash flow challenges that cripple an organization or a company.

But that’s what makes this human ecosystem along the Hoh such an ideal test ground, and why I’m excited for the opportunity to partner with the Hoh River Trust, as well as the neighboring Olympic Experimental State Forest and Olympic National Forest, to conduct research involving faculty and students from our School. Natural laboratories like these lands, which share elements of the wild and of human management, are essential to sustainable forestry and the forest products industry. They give us a chance to integrate research across multiple disciplines, combining the expertise of our foresters, social scientists, ecologists, microbiologists, engineers, hydrologists and economists, among others.

Using these lands as an open research laboratory would allow us to conduct long-term studies experimenting with new approaches to silviculture, timber harvest and wood utilization that emphasize habitat objectives and continuous cover—all while achieving a sustainable flow of timber and revenue that supports regional demand and community well-being. I can envision us developing alternative strategies for restoration and conservation along the Hoh that will help increase the resilience of our ecosystems, economies and social networks throughout the Pacific Northwest.

There’s so much potential in this dynamic environment, and I heartily welcome the opportunity for us to help study, understand, manage, restore and sustain these rural landscapes.

Tom DeLuca
School of Environmental and Forest Sciences

UW in the High School

Starting this fall, the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS) will begin participating in the UW in the High School program, which offers high school students the opportunity to complete University of Washington courses—and earn UW credit—in their own classrooms, and with their own teachers. These students get to use our course curriculum, activities, texts, tests and grading scale, as well as a chance to experience the depth and challenge of college-level material.

2015_07_UW in the High SchoolIn this first year, SEFS will be supporting two courses, ESRM 101 (Forests and Society) and ESRM 150 (Wildlife in the Modern World). Professors Kristiina Vogt and Aaron Wirsing will assist with the classes, including training teachers to deliver and maximize the course material.

Participating high schools so far include Chief Kitsap, Ferndale, Garfield, Granger, Kentlake, Kentwood and Sammamish. The first training session was two weeks ago, when Vogt and Wirsing spent a couple hours with the teachers who’ll be leading these classes; at least three of them will begin teaching the material this fall. Both professors will then drop in on classes periodically and generally support the teachers throughout the semester.

“Unlike an AP course, where you get to place out of college courses, UW in the High School allows you to get the credit and actually take the class,” says Professor Wirsing. “That way, high school students come away with a college class in their pocket, and they can apply the credits they’ve earned to any university. The added bonus is that the teachers get training from the professors who teach the classes, and the professors then visit the classes to help those teachers successfully integrate the courses into their curriculum.”

We’re very pleased to get involved in this great program, which allows us to partner with great teachers and students throughout Washington!

Stories About Science: Jerry Franklin

2015_06_Stories About ScienceComing up next week from July 5 to 10, the 9th Annual International Association for Landscape Ecology World Congress will be held in Portland, Ore. At the end of the day’s presentations and poster sessions on Tuesday, July 7, our own Professor Jerry Franklin will be taking part in an evening of cocktails and ecology-themed stories, hosted by Springer Storytellers and The Story Collider.

The event, “Stories About Science,” lets scientists tell their own stories—inspirational, funny, surprising or just plain entertaining—and you’ll have the opportunity to connect with these researchers and learn what drives them to understand our place and our effect on the planet.

Other scientists taking part include Jack Ahern from the University of Massachusetts Amherst; Jonaki Bhattacharyya from The Firelight Group; Virginia Dale from Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Aerin Jacob from the University of Victoria; and Janet Silbernagel from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“Stories About Science” will be held in the Skyline Room (23rd Floor) of the Portland Hilton from 8 to 10 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public, and you can RSVP to reserve your spot as attendance is limited to 150 guests.

Notes from the Field: Helicopter Sampling in Alaska

Earlier this week, Professor David Butman returned from spending 11 days in the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, where he had the memorable opportunity to conduct his field sampling by helicopter and float plane. He was able to coordinate the trip on a shoestring budget, as well, thanks to a great partnership with NASA and colleagues at the University of North Carolina, the U.S. Geological Survey, and Civil & Environmental Engineering at the University of Washington (where Butman holds a joint appointment).

Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge.

Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge.

Professor Butman’s research involves measuring fluxes of carbon dioxide and methane in water systems—especially in Arctic and boreal ecosystems—and how those releases of greenhouse gasses are impacting the global carbon cycle and climate change. At a conference two years ago, he connected with Professor Tamlin Pavelsky, a hydrologist at the University of North Carolina’s Department of Geological Sciences. They stayed in touch and kept talking about potential collaborations, and their interests eventually aligned over an engineering project in Alaska.

Pavelsky has been helping with field calibration for a new radar sensor that NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is planning to launch on a satellite in 2020. Through its Surface Water and Ocean Topography, or SWOT, mission, NASA is developing this sensor to observe changes in water level to within a millimeter of accuracy, which will have important applications for measuring water volume in lakes and rivers, as well as impacts of flooding.

Daylight extended until nearly midnight, giving them incredibly long days to collect samples. “You lose track of time,” says Butman, taking a “sampling selfie” here.

Daylight extended until nearly midnight, giving them incredibly long days to collect samples. “You lose track of time,” says Butman (taking a “sampling selfie” here).

Right now, they’re in the middle of an intense campaign to calibrate the radar sensor and test it by flying over different landforms and water features. So when Butman learned from Pavelsky that some of those test sites would include the Yukon Flats, he pitched the idea of tagging along to conduct his own biogeochemistry measurements at the same time. He had already marked some of those same areas for future sampling, and the timing was perfect to draw different programs together for common goals. NASA agreed to bring him along, and they ended up covering the expense of the helicopter and plane flights in Alaska, and Butman handled the equipment and labor.

He seized the opportunity and spent 16 to 17 hours in the field on the trip. Butman flew around with a pilot and a student technician to assist him, locating lakes from the air and heading down to take measurements. Assisted by Alaska’s endless summer sunshine, they were able to collect tons of data from 18 different lakes. “It was kind of exciting,” he says. “Some of these systems have never been measured.”

Butman has another proposal in with NASA to fund continued research in the Yukon area, and he definitely hopes to get back up there next year. “It was one of my top three field experiences so far, for sure.”

Photos © David Butman.

2015_06_Butman3

Native Plant Nursery Internships

The UW student chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration’s (SER-UW) native plant nursery is located on campus at the Center for Urban Horticulture (CUH). It is a student-run operation that provides plants to the on-campus restoration projects that SER-UW manages. This year, with the support of a Campus Sustainability Fund grant, the nursery is expanding by building a new hoop house, growing more plants from seed and cuttings, and increasing its opportunities for volunteer involvement.

To help with these projects, the native plant nursery is seeking two undergraduate student interns for fall quarter!

2015_06_UW-SER InternshipsRequirements
An interest in native plants and sustainable horticulture practices is a must, but previous experience is not required. Interns are expected to devote an average of 9 hours a week to nursery projects. In conjunction with the co-managers, interns will develop learning objectives based on individual interests and strengths to receive credit for ESRM 399. The interns’ time will be split between routine plant maintenance, plant propagation, nursery infrastructure projects, helping with weekly volunteer work parties, and individual projects. Each intern will have a different focus to help tackle the many and diverse needs of a native plant nursery:

The Building Projects Intern will help construct rolling sidewalls on the hoop house, a potting bench, plant production tables and an irrigation system. Applicant should be comfortable with power tools (or willing to learn) and have a desire to engage in the design/build process.

The Communications Intern will help develop an advertising strategy to increase volunteer involvement, assist with SER-UW’s WordPress website design, develop an online inventory, advertise work parties, and maintain and increase the club’s social media presence.

Both interns are expected to:

  • be willing to get dirty, get wet and work in all weather conditions
  • be on time and follow directions closely
  • work well with fellow interns and co-managers, and be comfortable working independently
  • problem solve and know when to ask for help
  • work well with volunteers and be available for weekly volunteer work parties
  • be able to lift 40 pounds and walk on uneven terrain

Interested?
Applications are due by Friday, August 28. To apply, send a resume and a 300- to 500-word description of why you are interested, what you want to learn, and how your previous work experience and/or coursework apply to this position. Contact the nursery co-managers, Anna Carragee and Kelly Broadlick, at sernursery@gmail.com with questions, for more information or to submit your application.

2015 SEFS Graduation: Slideshow!

This past Friday, June 12, we honored the Class of 2015 at the SEFS Graduation Celebration. We heard great student speeches from Sam Israel and Stuart Jergensen, as well as a powerful keynote from SEFS alumna Melody Mobley (’79), and you could feel the pride beaming from friends and family packed into Kane Hall. It’s never easy to say farewell to such a special group of graduates, but we send them off knowing we’ll hear from them again soon—as alumni, as friends, as colleagues and as the future environmental leaders of the world!

If you’d like a glimpse of the fun, browse a gallery of photos from the ceremony and lunch reception afterward, or check out the slideshow below!

Photos © Karl Wirsing/SEFS.

Click here to view these pictures larger