Water Seminar: Spring 2015

Professor David Butman is leading the Water Seminar (ESRM 429) this spring, and you can catch the action on Tuesday mornings from 8:30 to 9:20 a.m. in Anderson 223. We apologize for sharing this schedule too late for you to see Professor Butman’s introduction, but there are plenty of great talks and speakers lined up for the rest of the quarter!

Week 1: March 31
“Overview: Land-use and riverine biogeochemistry from a carbon perspective”
Professor David Butman, SEFS and Civil and Environmental Engineering

Week 2: April 7
“What stable isotopes can tell us about inputs to freshwater ecosystems”
Professor Michael Brett, UW Civil and Environmental Engineering

Week 3: April 14
“Biological N2 fixation explains ancient sustained use of subarctic alluvial meadows”
SEFS Director Tom DeLuca

Week 4: April 21
“Does shoreline development impact herring in Puget Sound?”
Tessa Francis, lead ecosystem ecologist
Puget Sound Institute, UW Tacoma

Week 5: April 28
“Effects of land use on the predictability of land-atmosphere fluxes and moisture transport in the North American monsoon region”
Dr. Ted Bohn, School of Earth and Space Exploration
Arizona State University

Week 6: May 5
“Carbon storage in terrestrial systems inferred from riverine chemistry”
Dr. Erin Martin, The Evergreen State College

Week 7: May 12
“Global watershed management tools”
Professor Jeff Richey, UW School of Oceanography
Adjunct Professor, Quaternary Research Center, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Week 8: May 19
“Sediment and chemical loading from the Green River watershed to the Lower Duwamish Waterway Superfund site”
Kathleen Conn, hydrologist, USGS

Week 9: May 26
“Hama Hama Seafood Co.: What resource management and conservation means for a sustainable seafood business in Puget Sound”
Lissa James Monberg, Hama Hama Seafood Co.

Week 10: June 2
“Lake Washington Ship Canal and current water management operations”
Kenneth Brettmann, senior water manager, Western Washington
Water Management Section, Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District

2015 Pack Forest Spring Planting: Slideshow!

Last week, five SEFS students spent their Spring Break down at Pack Forest as part of the annual spring planting tradition to help with seasonal reforestation work. This year’s group included Anthony Bird, Carolyn Hartman, Will Mooreston, Trey Parry and Rachel Yonemura, and Dave Cass says it was a stellar crew. Their main accomplishments from the week included:

* Replanting a 3-acre harvest unit with nearly 1,000 seedlings;
* Planting 480 seedlings in research trial plots for graduate student Matthew Aghai’s dissertation research; and
* Measuring numerous regeneration plots and rescuing dozens of young cedar trees from becoming an appetizer for deer and elk.

Take a look at a slideshow of their work, and special thanks to Cass and Emilio Vilanova for sharing these great photos!

Jim Furnish: Toward a Natural Forest

On Friday, April 10, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. in the Forest Club Room, we are very pleased to host a special seminar featuring Jim Furnish, former deputy chief of the U.S. Forest Service, who recently published a memoir about his career, Toward a Natural Forest: The Forest Service in Transition.

Toward a Natural ForestThe program will include a brief talk and reading by Furnish, who spent 34 years with the Forest Service and now works as a consulting forester in the Washington, D.C. area. We’ll also be viewing of a short documentary film by Seattle videographer Alan Honick, Seeing the Forest, which captures 20 years in the Siuslaw National Forest (where Furnish served as supervisor from 1992 to 1999).

Then, following the book and film presentations, Mike Anderson, a senior policy analyst with the Wilderness Society, will moderate a panel discussion about themes from the video and memoir—and their implications for public land management. SEFS Director Tom DeLuca will be joining Furnish and Honick on the panel, and we’re looking forward to a lively discussion!

You can check out a four-minute trailer for Honick’s video to get a look at his work, and Furnish’s memoir, published by Oregon State University Press, will be released on April 1.

The presentation is free and open to the public, so come out and join us!

From the Publisher
“Jim Furnish joined the U.S. Forest Service in 1965, enthusiastic and naive, proud to be part of such a storied and accomplished agency. Nothing could have prepared him for the crisis that would soon rock the agency to its foundation, as a burgeoning environmental movement challenged the Forest Service’s legacy and legitimacy.

The Forest Service stumbled in responding to a wave of lawsuits from environmental groups in the late 20th Century—a phenomenon best symbolized by the spotted owl controversy that shut down logging on public forests in the Pacific Northwest in the 1990s. The agency was brought to its knees, pitted between a powerful timber industry that had been having its way with the national forests for decades, and organized environmentalists who believed public lands had been abused and deserved better stewardship.

Toward a Natural Forest offers an insider’s view of this tumultuous time in the history of the Forest Service, presenting twin tales of transformation, both within the agency and within the author’s evolving environmental consciousness. While stewarding our national forests with the best of intentions, had the Forest Service diminished their natural essence and ecological values? How could one man confront the crisis while remaining loyal to his employer?

In this revealing memoir, Furnish addresses the fundamental human drive to gain sustenance from and protect the Earth, believing that we need not destroy it in the process. Drawing on the author’s personal experience and his broad professional knowledge, Toward a Natural Forest illuminates the potential of the Forest Service to provide strong leadership in global conservation efforts. Those interested in our public lands—environmentalists, natural resource professionals, academics, and historians—will find Jim Furnish’s story deeply informed, thought-provoking, and ultimately inspiring.”

Photo © Jim Furnish.

Jim Furnish

Join the 2015 Pack Forest Summer Crew!

Every summer, a hardy crew of SEFS students heads down to Pack Forest for two months of hands-on field training in sustainable forest management. It’s one of our oldest field traditions, and also one of the most memorable, so take a look at the internship opportunities coming up this summer!

Pack Forest Summer CrewThere are up to six internship positions available for the 2015 Summer Quarter at Park Forest, which runs from June 22 to August 21. Each position is eligible for 4 ESRM credit hours (with in-state tuition included), as well as a $200 weekly stipend and free housing for a summer spent in the shadow of Mount Rainier. Hard to beat!

* Three to five spots are open for Forest Resource Interns, who will assist with the management and stewardship of Pack Forest’s timber resources, research installations, roads and trails. These students will develop forest mensuration skills, practice species identification, participate in research programs, and learn about sustainable forest management.

* One additional position is available for an Outreach & GIS Intern, who will actively participate in public outreach, environmental education and/or GIS applications for natural resource management. This student will develop skills in communications, public outreach, curriculum development and natural resource management.

The deadline to apply is Thursday, April 9. If you’re interested, please send your resume and a cover letter describing how the internship will fit into your program of study to Professor Greg Ettl.

Also, for a glimpse of the Pack Forest experience, check out the video below—produced by Katherine Turner of UW Marketing & Communications—from the Pack Forest Spring Planting last year (the current spring planting is going on right now)!

Alumni Spotlight: Cindy Dittbrenner

For the past year and a half, Cindy Dittbrenner (’07, M.S.) has committed several days a month, as well as three additional weeks for longer trips, to take part in the AgForestry Leadership Program. She’s been traveling to intensive, hands-on seminars in different cities and towns across Washington, tackling subjects from public policy to media relations and the criminal justice system—and culminating with her helping introduce an actual bill to the Washington State Legislature. It’s been an immersive, exciting 18 months.

Now, as she prepares to graduate from the program later this spring, Dittbrenner has started reflecting on what’s made it such an empowering experience.

Cindy Dittbrenner

Cindy Dittbrenner earned her master’s from SEFS in 2007, and her husband Ben is a current doctoral student here.

The Hook
Dittbrenner, whose husband Ben is a current doctoral student with SEFS, studied forest soils with Professor Rob Harrison and earned her master’s in 2007. After she graduated, she spent four years working with Snohomish County on watershed restoration. Dittbrenner then moved to her current position as natural resources program manager for the Snohomish Conservation District, where she works with private landowners to better steward their property to protect natural resources.

Each county in Washington has as conservation district, which operates like a unit of government but is not officially connected to the county. These districts were organized during the Dust Bowl era with the goal of soil conservation, and their missions have expanded to include a range of issues, from water quality to restoring salmon habitat to cleaning up storm water runoff in urban areas.

Part of what attracted Dittbrenner to the role was this broad spectrum of coverage areas, and also the potential for more leadership opportunities and growth. Six months into her job, in fact, she attended a statewide meeting of conservation districts in Cle Elum, where she met a farmer who had recently completed and strongly recommended the AgForestry Leadership Program.

The Washington Agriculture and Forestry Education Foundation was founded in 1977, and for the past 35-plus years its leadership program has supported adult professionals working within and connected to Washington State’s agriculture, forestry and fishing industries. The purpose of the program is to train and cultivate confident, well-rounded leaders—with versatile skills in communications, political savvy and issues management—who will work to maintain healthy farms, forests, near-shore environments and rural communities throughout the state.

Dittbrenner proposed the idea of signing up to her boss, who agreed to support her application and fund the $6,000 cost of participating. She was accepted into the 36th leadership class and began in October 2014.

Cindy Dittbrenner

Dittbrenner, who studied forest soils with Professor Rob Harrison, now works as the natural resources program manager for the Snohomish Conservation District.

The Program
As a leadership fellow, you continue your current job while participating in 12 three-day seminars held throughout the state, generally from Wednesday through Friday. The curriculum also includes two travel seminars, starting with a seven-day visit to Washington, D.C., to learn about the federal government, and then a two-week international trip. All told, the schedule involves about 53 training days.

One of the hallmarks of the AgForestry program, as well, is the variety of perspectives and backgrounds represented, and Dittbrenner’s group didn’t disappoint. “It’s a diverse group from all over Washington,” she says. “Ages range from mid-20s to mid-50s, and there are foresters, farmers, viticulturists, recreation specialists from DNR, shellfish growers—just about everyone.”

Those viewpoints get tossed together and tested at each of the seminars, which are thoroughly interactive, blending talks and discussions with practical lessons. One of Dittbrenner’s seminars, for instance, was held in Spokane and involved how to work with the media. While visiting a television station, the fellows had to practice giving on-air, unprepared comments, and the interviewers grilled them—in some cases using ‘dirt’ on social media to rattle their composure. “I did horrible,” says Dittbrenner. “Because I had liked the Humane Society on Facebook, they asked me if animals should be put in captivity and in feedlots, and it took me off guard. So I stumbled over some lame answer about wanting to help pets that were stranded during Hurricane Katrina.”

Another seminar concentrated on public speaking, and one project involved developing a five-minute persuasive talk. Each member was videotaped and got to see how he or she looked—and then had professionals critique them unsparingly (to the point that a couple of Dittbrenner’s colleagues started crying). “One by one, they tore us up,” she says. “I learned so much about things I do while talking, and there were definitely some things in the video that were frightening, including a little weird clicking noise my tongue was making.”

The next day, after seeing themselves and getting feedback, the fellows got another chance to give their talk—and on her second run, Dittbrenner nailed it. “I did awesome.”

Cindy Dittbrenner

Dittbrenner and other AgForestry fellows at Angkor Watt.

Later in the program, the group headed to Cambodia and Vietnam for the international component. The main goal is to learn about trade and some of the issues developing countries are facing, such as natural resource depletion and other impacts of urban growth and expansion. “But since you’re in another country for two weeks with 25 people, it becomes much more than that,” says Dittbrenner. “A lot of people had never traveled abroad before and had to get their passports for the first time.”

The class visited different agricultural areas, from rice patties to fisheries to a coconut processing plant, and met with staff at the U.S. Embassy to hear about the role and mission of the United States in the country. Much of their time was programmed, with activities starting around 7:30 or 8 in the morning and running through a reception that evening. Yet they also got to do some exploring, including a boat tour of the Mekong Delta and a memorable stop at Angkor Wat in Cambodia. “It was so, so beautiful,” says Dittbrenner.

The Project
Another central element of the AgForestry program is that fellows are divided into smaller groups of five to complete a public policy project together. Given the incredible range of social and political viewpoints in Dittbrenner’s group, though, the process of settling on an issue to champion was no small task.

“We first thought we wanted to do something related to agriculture or water or natural resources,” she says. “But for the first few months, we’d lob out ideas for the project, and someone would shoot them down. Finally—it was actually really interesting—we agreed on something I didn’t think we’d agree on: reintroducing ex-offenders successfully back into society.”

Cindy Dittbrenner

Dittbrenner on Cat Ba Island in northern Vietnam.

During an earlier seminar on crime and corrections, the fellows had visited a juvenile detention center and the state penitentiary. They’d met with inmates and learned how hard it can be for ex-offenders to get a stable job after getting released, and that one of the biggest hurdles involves the box on applications that asks whether someone has ever been convicted of a crime—a box that, if checked, often automatically disqualifies an applicant.

Researching how to approach this issue, Dittbrenner’s group worked with several nonprofits and settled on the “Ban the Box” movement, which aims to remove that question about previous convictions from applications. More than 10 states and 90 cities and counties have adopted some form of this policy, says Dittbrenner, and Seattle passed a version in 2013. Their policy project, the group decided, should be to draft a bill to make “Ban the Box” statewide law.

“One in three people released from prison in Washington ends up back in prison within three years,” says Dittbrenner, so this bill could have a huge impact on thousands of people and families in the state.

The Political Process
The fellows first collaborated with the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers to draft the bill’s language. Then they started trying to generate support and corral enough potential votes in the Washington State Legislature to give the bill a chance.

In addition to tapping the extensive AgForestry alumni network, Dittbrenner sent out rounds of emails to classmates asking them to reach out to their Republican legislators. Bridging the partisan divide was an eye-opening and rewarding experience for her, and she ended up becoming close friends with some of the most conservative members of her leadership group. It’s a tremendous feeling to find accord despite vocal differences, she says, and reach a solution that could help so many people.

Cindy Dittbrenner

The international trip was particularly special for Dittbrenner, who headed over two weeks early with her husband Ben to get more travel time in Southeast Asia.

Their legwork started paying off. The “Ban the Box” bill got introduced in the state senate and house last month, and Dittbrenner’s group secured committee hearings in Olympia on Friday, February 13, to lobby for their bill. That was an achievement on its own, as not every group was able to get far enough on a project to have a bill written and introduced—and Dittbrenner felt confident they had generated solid bipartisan support.

After passing out of the House Labor Committee, the bill then made it out of the Rules Committee. But it fell just short of getting a vote on the floor, which would have sent it back to the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee for round two—and a real chance of becoming law. Undeterred, Dittbrenner says the bill is still very much alive. “We’ll try again next year!”

Even with the disappointing result of the vote, Dittbrenner says the experience has been deeply satisfying and empowering. Before she started this program, she had found the legislative process largely opaque, even intimidating. Yet patiently and determinedly pushing the “Ban the Box” bill—with all of its myriad iterations and steps and votes—has transformed her understanding of public policy. “I’m not afraid to talk to my legislators,” she says, “and I feel like I can be instrumental in making change happen.”

Part of reaching that point has been learning how to be a better listener and more open-minded, says Dittbrenner. That’s a powerful takeaway from this leadership program, and she knows it will serve her throughout her career. “I’ve been able to broaden my perspective and understanding of where people are coming from, and how we can focus on our similarities to get a lot of work done.”

Photos © Cindy Dittbrenner.

Cindy Dittbrenner

Dittbrenner planting rice in Ben Tre, Vietnam, as part of the AgForestry international trip.


2015 Charles Lathrop Pack Essay Competition

In 1923, Charles Lathrop Pack had the foresight to establish an essay competition so that students in the College of Forest Resources would “express themselves to the public and write about forestry in a way that affects or interests the public.” His original mandate continues today at SEFS—as does the unwavering value of good written communication—and we are pleased to announce the 2015 edition of the Charles Lathrop Pack Essay Competition!

Charles Lathrop Pack

Charles Lathrop Pack

The prize for top essays is $500, and this year’s prompt addresses the Washington Department of Natural Resources:

The Washington DNR manages State Trust Lands for beneficiaries ranging from hospitals to schools, including the UW. Please review the state’s Policy for Sustainable Forests (2006) and discuss its ability to meet the policy objectives described on pages 3 and 4, paying particular attention to the following objective:

Balance trust income, environmental protection and other social benefits from four perspectives: the prudent person doctrine; undivided loyalty to and impartiality among the trust beneficiaries; intergenerational equity; and not foreclosing future options.

Entries are due by Tuesday, April 28, 2015. If you have any questions about the competition, or if you’d like to see if your essay idea sounds promising and appropriate, email Professor Greg Ettl. Otherwise, review the rest of the guidelines below, and get busy thinking and typing!

Essay Criteria
In responding to the prompt, you must justify your answer from a political, ecological and economic point of view. You are expected to provide a technical perspective, addressing a diverse and educated audience that needs further knowledge of natural resource issues. Writers are expected to clearly state the problem or issue to be addressed at the beginning of the essay, and should emphasize a strong public communications element. Course papers substantially restructured to meet these guidelines are acceptable; however, no group entries are permitted. References and quotes are acceptable only when sources are clearly indicated; direct quotes should be used sparingly.

Submitting
Entries should be typed, double-spaced (one side of paper only), and may not exceed 2,000 words. Include a cover page with student name and title of the essay, then print your submission and deliver to Student and Academic Services in AND 116/130 no later than Tuesday, April 28, 2015.

Eligibility
The competition is open to juniors, seniors and graduate students enrolled in SEFS during Spring Quarter 2015 who have not yet received a graduate-level degree from any institution. Undergraduate and graduate essays will be judged in separate categories.

Judging
A Judging Committee will be selected to assess originality, organization, mastery of subject, objectivity, clarity, forcefulness of writing, literary merit and conciseness. The Committee will reserve the right to withhold the prize if no entry meets acceptable standards. The Committee may also award more than one prize for outstanding entries if funds permit. Winning papers will be posted on the Center for Sustainable Forestry at Pack Forest website, and might also be featured on the SEFS blog, “Offshoots,” and in the school’s e-newsletter, The Straight Grain.

Charles Lathrop Pack © SEFS.

SEFS Recognition Event: May 5!

We have set the date for this year’s SEFS Recognition Event—Tuesday, May 5, from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Forest Club Room—so mark your calendars for our annual celebration of all things SEFS!

For those who haven’t been to the Recognition Event before, it’s a wonderful occasion to recognize students, colleagues and retiring faculty who have made exemplary contributions to the school and academic community. There will be catered snacks, a silent auction to raise money for the SEFS student scholarship fund (more on that to come), an expansive wine tasting and beer sampling, and a host of honors and awards. In short, a truly excellent time.

At the heart of the event, of course, are the awards, and we’ll be presenting a range of student, staff and faculty honors. For students, the awards include the John A. Wott Fellowship in Plant Collection and Curatorship, and the Richard D. Taber Outstanding Wildlife Conservation Student Award. We will also present two Director’s Awards, one each for staff and faculty service.

After that, we depend on all of you to determine the final four awards, which are based entirely on nominations: Faculty Member of the Year, Staff Member of the Year, Graduate Student of the Year, and Undergraduate Student of the Year. We launched these awards last year to recognize the highest honor for a year of achievement and service, and they are open to nominations from all faculty, staff and students. Honorees will have their names engraved on a plaque in the Anderson Hall display case, so help us recognize the achievements of your students and colleagues!

Submitting a Nomination
Nomination letters do not need to be long—a good paragraph or two will suffice—but they should be specific and clearly demonstrate the qualities your candidate exemplifies. Nominations can recognize a wide range of qualities and accomplishments, whether in one area or across many, in one instance or sustained throughout the year. You may nominate more than one individual for each category, and all nominations will be reviewed by a panel of students, staff and faculty. You are not expected to know grant totals or grades or precise figures, though the selection committee may use these metrics as part of the selection process. Most important, all nominations must be emailed to Sarah Thomas no later than Friday, April 17!

Below are some criteria and characteristics to consider:

1. Faculty Member of the Year
Exemplary attributes can include, but are not limited to: Quality of teaching, advising and mentoring; student success in the field; new research grants and programs; recent publications, books, patents and invited lectures; contributions to the SEFS community and administration; preeminence in his/her field of study; etc. (Last year’s winner was Professor Sharon Doty.)

2. Staff Member of the Year
Exemplary attributes can include, but are not limited to: Outstanding commitment to the school and supporting students, faculty and other staff; contributing to the positive spirit and cohesiveness of the school; outstanding, creative and/or innovative performance of duties; community participation and outreach; commitment to professional growth and development; etc. (Last year’s winner was Amanda Davis.)

3. Graduate Student of the Year
Exemplary attributes can include, but are not limited to: Academic excellence and accolades; outstanding thesis/dissertation research and progress; extracurricular projects, collaborations and activities; conference presentations and other professional engagements; community participation and outreach; outstanding promise in his/her field of study; etc. (Last year’s winner was Hyungmin “Tony” Rho.)

4. Undergraduate Student of the Year
Exemplary attributes can include, but are not limited to: Academic excellence and accolades; outstanding research projects; conference presentations and other professional engagements; extracurricular projects, collaborations and activities; community participation and outreach; outstanding promise in his/her field of study; etc. (Last year’s winner was Alison Sienkiewicz.)

Remember, nominations are due by Friday, April 17, so send them to Sarah as soon as possible!

Vada May Corkery Memorial: Saturday, March 21

The School of Environmental and Forest Sciences lost a long-time friend and supporter when Vada May Corkery passed away peacefully at her home on March 5, 2015. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 21, at 11 a.m. at Magnolia Presbyterian Church, 3051 28th Ave W, Seattle, WA 98199. A reception luncheon will follow.

Vada May was born March 12, 1921, at Fort Lewis, Wash. She attended the University of Washington and graduated in 1942 with a degree in fine arts. In 1944 she married Jack Corkery.

Jack also studied at the UW in what was then the College of Forest Resources during the late 1930s, training to follow his father into forestry. But times got tough in the timber business – so Jack and his brother soon founded the successful Corkery Brother’s Painting Company, where they served out their careers.

But the Corkery heart never strayed far from Washington’s rich forested landscapes, and in 1991 Jack, Vada May, Jack’s brother George, Jr., and his sister Alberta established the first endowed chair in the College of Forest Resources. The endowment was meant to enhance the university’s ability to recruit and retain distinguished faculty in forestry, and it continues to do so today.

“A person who likes the place where they were educated should leave a legacy to them,” Vada May said. It was her idea to give to the university in the first place, asking Jack, “What are we going to do with our money? We had better do something good with it!”

And good they have done indeed. Through their philanthropy, the Corkerys not only created the Corkery Endowed Chair, they supported academic and research programs at Pack Forest, and funded the Bruce Bare Endowed Professorship in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, which allows the school to recruit, retain and reward distinguished faculty who conduct research and teaching on the science of sustainability, while emphasizing the integration of human and natural elements involved in natural resource management.

Vada May was an accomplished artist whose imagery reflected her love for the landscapes of the Pacific Northwest. Though she is gone, her legacy will continue to live on through the impactful endowments she and her family established to sustain the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences for generations to come.

“Vada May Corkery, along with her husband Jack, his sister Alberta and his brother George, were great supporters of the UW and provided enduring gifts to our school,” says Dean and Professor Emeritus Bruce Bruce, who worked closely with the Corkery family during his tenure as dean. “Vada May was kind, thoughtful and loyal—attending numerous events held around campus. She always listened attentively and asked penetrating questions when needed. We enjoyed many social events with all members of the Corkery family, both on and off campus, and Vada May was always most gracious and engaging. We thank her and the entire family for their friendship and generosity. We will miss them greatly.”

Vada May Corkery

2015 Silviculture Challenge: Helicopter Logging at UBC’s Loon Lake Lodge

Two weeks ago, on March 6 and 7, six SEFS students headed up to Canada to compete against the University of British Columbia (UBC) in the 9th Annual International Silviculture Challenge. Professor Emeritus David Ford and former UW Professor Bruce Larson, who is now at UBC, first organized the contest, and this year marked the ninth consecutive year the two schools have come together in the spirit of academic competition. Host sites alternate between the United States and Canada, and UBC staged the 2015 challenge in the 10,000-acre Malcolm Knapp Research Forest (MKRF).

Silviculture Challenge

Audrey Riddell, one of four undergrads on the SEFS crew.

Professor Greg Ettl, who coaches the SEFS crew, started recruiting his team about six weeks ago. He prioritizes undergrads who have taken a silviculture class but often mixes in one or two master’s students. This year’s team ended up featuring four undergrads, Jack Armstrong, Colin Kirkmire, Emily Richmond and Audrey Riddell, and two grad students, Hollis Crapo and Ben Roe.

For the competition, each university divides its students into two teams of three to tackle a particular silviculture assignment, and this year’s challenge ranked among the most difficult and comprehensive to date, says Professor Ettl.

The core of the challenge was to plan a harvest on a highly sensitive site next to the Loon Lake Lodge. The lodge hosts students and corporate retreats, with many high-paying clients expressing some concern over viewing harvested forest clearings. So the students’ task was to develop a harvest strategy that would net a profit of $100,000 for UBC while also preserving the aesthetics of the site. Due to the topography and accessibility constraints, the site would have to be harvested by helicopter and hauled across the lake to landings.

The teams had 24 hours to visit the site and prepare a plan for the 60-acre block—including the short-term helicopter logging and also a medium- and long-term silvicultural plan—and then present their findings on Saturday to a panel of three judges: Bryce Bancroft, principal of Symmetree Consulting in Victoria; Hélène Marcoux, instructor in sustainable resource management at the British Columbia Institute of Technology; and Paul Lawson, director of UBC Research Forests.

The Site
Located near Maple Ridge, B.C. (about 60 kilometers east of Vancouver), the MKRF is a mixture of 145-year-old western hemlock, western red cedar and Douglas-fir, with some remnant old-growth veterans tucked into the mix. The forest is managed by UBC for a variety of research, social, ecological and timber needs, and it’s also home to the Gallant Enterprises sawmill, which specializes in high value-added wood products, and the Loon Lake Research and Education Center, which provides wilderness recreation and education opportunities.

Elevation throughout the MKRF is highly variable, ranging from 1,000 meters to near sea level, and several other specific site conditions complicated the assignment—most notably a steep slope of up to 60 percent, and proximity to the lake, which provides the lodge’s drinking water supply. The section to be harvested also sits in direct view of lodge visitors from the new Bentley Dining Hall.

Silviculture Challenge

Loon Lake in the Malcolm Knapp Research Forest.

The Results
Professor Ettl says all four groups produced excellent harvest plans given the constraints, but one of the teams from UBC—with students Carrie Huang, Anita Li and Mikayla Roberts—ended up edging ahead for first place in a very tight competition.

The SEFS teams had prescribed a general thin through most of the stand to minimize observable impacts and preserve the overall aesthetic feel of the forest for lodge visitors. The winning team from UBC won on a plan that involved patch cuts and then snap-and-fly selection logging of high-quality cedar logs to reach the $100,000 threshold. This group also offered ideas for future research in the stand, ways to possibly involve visitors in the site and its operations, and an idea for increased recreational value.

Despite the result, the SEFS team thoroughly enjoyed the experience. “I learned a lot,” says undergrad Emily Richmond, whose first experience with silviculture was as part of the Pack Forest Summer Crew. “I’m in the wildlife conservation focus of ESRM, so I focused on the aesthetics and wildlife aspect of the challenge. It was a huge learning experience for me and gave me some insight into what I might have to incorporate in my wildlife endeavors in terms of forestry management.”

Silviculture Challenge

With steep slopes up to 60 percent, Loon Lake proved an especially challenging site for the competition, but the SEFS team thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Hollis Crapo, a Master of Forest Resources student, came away feeling equally positive. “I enjoyed myself immensely,” he says. “Each team had a slightly different approach to their prescription, and what ultimately decided the winner was their ability to tie the project back to larger cultural values, both of the region and the Malcolm Knapp Research Forest. It reminded us that we don’t do forestry in a vacuum. Especially if we’re working as a public entity, we all have to deal with a social license to practice forestry, and the little things we can do to tie our work to others in our community, work done in the past, and work done in the future, the better we’ll be  able to remain sustainable in our practices.”

After this year’s results, UBC now holds a 6-3 edge, but there’s no time for licking wounds. Next year, SEFS will be the host, and the UW silviculture program is already planning for the challenge—which will be 10-year anniversary of the contest!

Photos © Courtesy of Greg Ettl.

SEFS Seminar Series: Spring 2015

In case your seminar withdrawal symptoms start setting in early, we’ve got you covered! Check out the fantastic line-up for the SEFS Seminar Series this spring, which kicks off in just three weeks on Wednesday, April 1!

Once again, the seminars will be held on Wednesdays from 3:30 to 4:20 p.m. in Anderson 223, and we’ll host a casual reception in the Forest Club Room after the first seminar of each month (April 1, May 6 and June 3). Students can register to take the seminar for course credit as SEFS 529A.

So mark your calendars and come out for as many talks as you can!

SEFS Seminar - Spring 2015Week 1: April 1*
“Where on Earth are we going: health risks of climate change”        
Professor Kris Ebi, UW Department of Global Health

Week 2: April 8
“Innovations in the forest products industry and the role of a scientist/engineer”
Amar Neogi
Research Scientist, Weyerhaeuser Company

Week 3: April 15
“How green is a building? Using lif-ecyle assessment to quantify the environmental impact of construction”
Professor Kate Simonen
UW Department of Architecture

Week 4: April 22
“Social media as data on impacts of environmental change on nature-based tourism and recreation”
Spencer Wood
Senior Scientist, Natural Capital Project

Week 5: April 29
“Remote sensing perspectives on climate-induced physiological stress in western forests”
Warren Cohen
Research Forester, U.S. Forest Service

Week 6: May 6*
“Assessing ecological resilience and adaptive governance in regional scale water systems”
Professor Lance Gunderson
Emory University, Department of Environmental Sciences

Week 7: May 13
“The importance of water, climate change and water policy for potential biorefineries in Washington State”
Professor Renata Bura, SEFS

Week 8: May 20
“Fires on the hills, fires in the forests: Peri-urban and wildland fire regimes in Mediterranean-type ecosystems and climates”
Professor Jack Hayes
Kwantlen Polytechnic University, British Columbia

Week 9: May 27
“A mixed species clearcut silviculture system to restore native species composition and structure of old-growth forests in western Washington”
Professor Greg Ettl, SEFS

Week 10: June 3*
“Site Work: Community Design Engagement—the Forks RAC Project”
Professor Rob Corser
UW Department of Architecture

* Indicates reception after seminar