Next Thursday (12/8): IFSA to Host Forestry Panel

On Thursday, December 8, at 5 p.m. in the Forest Club Room, the UW local committee of the International Forestry Students’ Association (IFSA) is hosting a panel, “On the Comparison of American and European Forestry Methods.”

Featuring two SEFS undergrads who recently traveled to a forestry conference in Austria, as well as Professors Greg Ettl and Aaron Wirsing, the panel will explore aspects of forest management that lead to success across nations. The event is free and open to the public, and there will be a light reception afterward.

Visit the IFSA Facebook page or email jamesaugust@gmail.com for more information. Check it out!

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SEFS Christmas Tree Sale: Place Your Orders!

This fall, the Forest Club is once again proud to organize one of our most popular community traditions: the annual Christmas Tree Sale!

Founded in 1908, the Forest Club is one of the oldest and longest-running clubs at the University of Washington, and every year the group sells freshly cut noble fir (Abies procera) Christmas trees to folks at UW and throughout the city of Seattle. Former Forest Club president and current master’s student Caileigh Shoot is leading the sale, and this year she’s recruited a wide range of students and clubs—from IFSA to SAF to TAPPI to Dead Elk and more—to help with cutting and delivering the trees. Caileigh and her team will head out to harvest the trees on Saturday, December 3, and then have them ready for pick-up on Sunday, December 4, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Center for Urban Horticulture (3501 NE 41st Street) —on the blacktop on the east side of the property, between the greenhouses and Yesler Swamp.

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Community members pick up their trees from the Center for Urban Horticulture.

Our beautiful noble firs come from Hunter Farms, and they are typically 4 to 7 feet tall (and, in past years, the larger trees have typically gone fastest, so come early if size is super important to you). All trees, regardless of size, are $45 (and non-refundable), and all proceeds benefit the Forest Club and other partner student groups assisting with the sale.

Trees are available for pre-order starting now through Thursday, December 1.

You can order your tree one of three ways:

1. Use the super-easy online form and pay with credit card.
2. Fill out and mail the paper form with a checkmade out to the UW Forest Club—to: UW Forest Club, Box 352100, Seattle, WA 98195
3. Print and hand deliver the form and payment—using cash, check or card—to Anderson 130, or if no one is available there, Anderson 107.

Remember, all forms must be received by close of business on Thursday, December 1, before the crew heads out into the woods, so don’t delay!

Email uwforestclub@gmail.com if you have any questions, and thank you for supporting the Forest Club!

Undergrad Spotlight: Linnea Kessler

Last winter and spring, SEFS undergrad Linnea Kessler spent two quarters in Tanzania with the School for Field Studies, a study-abroad program that offers students immersive experiences through field-based learning and research. In addition to taking a range of courses, from Swahili to environmental policy and wildlife management, Linnea got to carry out a research study on the chestnut-banded plover, a near-threatened species that’s endemic to the area.

Linnea, back left, and her classmates conducting transects and counting mammals at the Manyara Ranch Conservancy.

Linnea, back left, and her classmates running transects and counting mammals at the Manyara Ranch Conservancy.

Linnea, who grew up in Cheney, Wash., is an ESRM major in the wildlife option, and she says she had always wanted to study abroad in Africa. The field-heavy nature of this program is what especially attracted her, and the students were based in a village near Lake Manyara National Park in central Tanzania. They lived in an enclosed camp that included a dining hall, classroom and six cabins. She had three roommates, slept in a bunk bed, had spotty electricity and took a lot of cold showers. “It was basically like summer camp,” she says, except you were across the world in a totally unfamiliar environment.

The other highlight, of course, was the hands-on research experience. Linnea’s plover project involved looking at the birds’ distribution around Lake Manyara, part of which extends out of the park. Working with Bridget Amulike, a Tanzanian doctoral student at the University of Massachusetts who is working with grey crowned cranes, they discovered a positive correlation between pH levels in the water and abundance of the plovers. Levels in the lake can vary pretty widely, says Linnea, and they found more plovers in areas with an elevated pH (but none within the park). They also found the plovers were more abundant in mudflat habitats, potentially because the tiny birds have short legs and don’t thrive in marshy areas or deeper water. With more time and a bigger team, Linnea says they would be able to test these other variables to determine the drivers of plover distribution, and also compare their findings against data from another lake in northern Tanzania where the plovers have greater numbers.

Linnea’s study area in Lake Manyara National Park, where we took water samples for her plover research.

Linnea’s study area in Lake Manyara National Park, where she took water samples for her plover research.

When they weren’t in the field or in the classroom, the students also got to take a few memorable side excursions, including a camping trip to Tarangire National Park, as well as visits to Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti, where Linnea had the incredible fortune of seeing an elusive serval cat.

The program is fairly expensive, she says, but she highly recommends it, from the great people involved to the unforgettable experiences in Africa. “I was worried about not knowing anyone,” she says, “but the other students were awesome and I made some really close friends.”

Now back on campus for her senior year, she’s wrapping up her final courses this fall and might have one or two more classes in the winter—including, if it works out, the weeklong Yellowstone field course during spring break. After that, she’s considering pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree, and her long-term goal is to return to Africa to study one of the big cats (leopards are her favorite).

Whatever path she takes, Linnea has accumulated tremendous field experiences here and abroad, and we are excited to see where she goes!

Photo in safari vehicle © Isaac Merson; photo of Lake Manyara study area © Linnea Kessler; photo below of scat identification exercise © Eva Geisse.

Conducting a scat identification field exercise in a ranch area of Lake Manyara, where wildlife is protected but livestock and grazing are also allowed.

Linnea, second from right, conducting a scat identification field exercise in a ranch area of Lake Manyara, where wildlife is protected but livestock and grazing are also allowed.

 

Monday (11/14): Introducing Google Earth Engine

As part of Geohackweek next Monday, November 14, you are invited to a free public lecture by Google developers introducing the Google Earth Engine (GEE) platform. The event will run from 3:30 to 4:25 p.m. Anderson 223!

GEE is a tool for geospatial analysis that includes a massive data catalog of satellite imagery and geospatial data. The data catalog is hosted on Google’s cloud, allowing for rapid, on-the-fly calculations over large spatial and temporal scales. Whether you want to build a habitat map for your study area, map malaria risks throughout a country, or monitor global deforestation patterns, Google Earth Engine is an exciting new technology that brings petabytes of free, public data to users’ fingertips from the cloud.

The event is free and open to the public, but organizers request an RSVP to get a headcount beforehand. Contact SEFS doctoral student Catherine Kuhn if you have any questions!

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This November: Environmental Justice Symposium

In partnership with the Climate Impacts Group, Urban@UW is hosting a symposium on November 7 and 8 to expand university-wide engagement with the complex issues of environmental and climate justice in the context of urbanization and city growth and decline. The free symposium will feature several SEFS faculty members and affiliates, including Director Tom DeLuca, Professors Peter Kahn and Josh Lawler, and Mary Ruckelshaus from Natural Capital, and you can check out the full agenda online.

What: “Urban Environmental Justice in a Time of Climate Change”
When: November 7 and 8, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: University of Washington Samuel E. Kelley Ethnic Cultural Center

The symposium will explore how communities are drawing on environmental and climate science alongside social sciences to advocate for justice; how human and environmental health are linked in a just city; and how we bring these issues to our classrooms, academic communities and beyond. It will gather academic and civic leaders to collectively learn from each other about the challenging legacies and current issues of environmental injustices, and how we create more just and equitable cities.

Registering for the symposium does not entail complete attendance, and organizers invite you to attend as many sessions and events as your schedule allows. So RSVP if you’re interested, and contact urbanuw@uw.edu if you have any questions!

(Note: you will need to register separately for Jacqui Patterson’s lecture at 7:30 p.m. on November 7.)

Notes from the Field: Alaska’s Wrangell Mountains

From September 16 to 22, Professor Laura Prugh and her new postdoc, Madelon Van de Kerk, headed to the field in Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. They were deploying remote cameras and snow stakes to monitor snow conditions as part of Laura’s NASA ABoVE project involving Dall sheep.

Laura feeling the chill of late September in , the largest national park in the United States.

The largest national park in the country, Wrangell-St. Elias features terrain that ranges from sea level up to more than 18,000 feet.

A major goal of this study is to determine how snow conditions affect Dall sheep movement and survival rates. So they put up 22 snow-monitoring stations in an area of the park where their agency collaborators will be putting GPS collars on sheep later this fall. Each monitoring station consists of a camera mounted on a t-post that will take a photo of a snow stake every hour all winter. Their ground-based snow monitoring will be used to improve a model of snow conditions based on satellite remote sensing and meteorological data. Then, combining this model with the GPS location data from collared sheep will allow the researchers to determine—for the first time—how snow conditions like depth and hardness affect Dall sheep movements.

Joining Laura and Madelon for the fieldwork were her co-PI at Oregon State University, Professor Anne Nolin, and Anne’s doctoral student, Chris Cosgrove. The four of them flew to the Wrangells in a small plane—a Piper Super Cub—to reach their little cabin, well above the tree line on a large, alpine mesa. They then set up the snow-monitoring stations along elevational transects, which Laura says was extremely challenging work due to steep and rocky terrain. Their packs were also quite heavy and awkward, weighing more than 40 pounds, as they had to pack around the steel t-posts, PVC snow stakes, cameras and two 16-pound post drivers.

“We all had pretty sore muscles,” says Laura, “but it was worth it! The scenery was breathtaking, weather was great, and we saw lots of sheep, pikas, ptarmigan and some arctic ground squirrels.”

Take a look at a gallery of photos from their trip, and also a great little video of Laura explaining the project while on site last month!

Photos and video © Laura Prugh.

The Wrangells team (left to right): Madelon Van de Kerk, Chris Cosgrove, Anne Nolin and Laura Prugh.

The Wrangells team (left to right): Madelon Van de Kerk, Chris Cosgrove, Anne Nolin and Laura Prugh.

 

A Dedication for the Dedicated: John Wott Way

On Sunday, October 2, some 200 friends and colleagues gathered in the Washington Park Arboretum to celebrate Professor Emeritus John Wott at the dedication of a trail—John Wott Way—in his honor. The afternoon dedication included a Scottish bagpiper, speeches, ribbon cutting, cake and champagne, and a procession along the trail, which runs through the New Zealand Forest in the Pacific Connections Garden.

John Wott with Paige Miller from the Arboretum Foundation.

John Wott with Paige Miller from the Arboretum Foundation.

John, who earned his bachelor’s in agricultural education from Ohio State University in 1961, and then his master’s (1966) and Ph.D. (1968) in ornamental horticulture from Cornell University, joined the faculty of the College of Forest Resources in 1981. He took over as director of the Arboretum from 1991 to 2004 and continues to serve—as director emeritus, long after his retirement in 2006—as a passionate leader, teacher and advocate for the park.

Guests and speakers at the dedication ranged from Harold J. Tukey, who became the first director of the Center for Urban Horticulture in the spring of 1980 (John was one of his first faculty hires); to Paige Miller, executive director of the Arboretum Foundation; to Michael Shiosaki, director of planning and development for Seattle Parks and Recreation; to Professor Emeritus Tom Hinckley and many other friends, students, staff and faculty from SEFS.

Congratulations, John, for so many years of wonderful leadership and support for the Arboretum—and now literally offering a path for others to follow in your footsteps!

Photo of John and Paige © Ellen Hecht; photo of trail procession © Auslaug Harralsdottir.

John Wott and Fred Hoyt leading the procession along John Wott Way.

John Wott and Fred Hoyt leading the procession along John Wott Way.

 

Photo Gallery: 2016 Salmon BBQ!

Last Wednesday, October 5, we hosted the largest Salmon BBQ we can remember! The weather turned beautiful after a dodgy forecast in the morning, and record numbers turned out—and waited patiently in line for a shot at the salmon!—for a joyful afternoon among friends and colleagues. Seriously, such a good time, and a huge thank you to everyone who chipped in to make our annual feast a wonderful success.

In case you missed the fun or want to spot yourself in the crowd, take a look at some photos from the afternoon!

Photos © Karl Wirsing/SEFS.

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The grillmasters: Phil Hurvitz, Andrew Cooke, Luke Rogers and Jeffrey Comnick.

Notes from the Field: Kyrgyzstan

This September, Professor Aaron Wirsing joined his doctoral student Shannon Kachel in Kyrgyzstan for a couple weeks of field research. Working in collaboration with Panthera and the local managers of the Sarychat-Ertash State Nature Reserve in the Tian Chan Mountains, Shannon is exploring interactions between snow leopards and wolves, which compete for prey (argali and ibex) amid the regions’ towering peaks.

Doctoral student Shannon Kachel.

Doctoral student Shannon Kachel.

“During my stay, we weathered a tornado, forded rushing rivers on horseback, and hiked hard every day in a truly herculean effort to capture and collar these elusive carnivores,” says Aaron. “I left the field camp without seeing a leopard, but not without indelible memories of stunning alpine scenery and the bumps and bruises to show for some truly challenging field work at 3,000 meters (~10,000 feet). I am also happy to report that, merely a week after my departure, Shannon and company captured their first snow leopard of the season, a male!” (Read more about their first successful collaring last fall.)

Prior to returning to Seattle, Aaron also enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime visit with his father, Robert, in the Kyrgyz capital city of Bishkek. Through an incredible coincidence, Robert—a recently retired professor—was doing his own research in the area, and they were able to rendezvous for two nights (though it took nine hours, in turns by horse and by car, for Aaron to reach the rendezvous point!). The highlight, says Aaron, was a trip to Ala Archa National Park, which offers majestic alpine vistas just 40 kilometers outside of the city.

Photos © Aaron Wirsing.

Aaron, left, with his father Robert Wirsing.

Aaron, left, with his father Robert Wirsing.

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Native Plant Sale: November 6!

The Society for Ecological Restoration- UW Chapter’s Native Plant Nursery will be hosting a public plant sale on Sunday, November 6, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Douglas Research Conservatory at the Center for Urban Horticulture. They will be selling 50 different species—from Pacific bleeding hearts to Oregon grape, Sitka spruce, poplars, salmonberry and many more—so come pick out your favorite native plants and support your local student-run nursery!

The Native Plant Nursery provides plants to on-campus restoration projects. Using its brand-new hoop house, the nursery has cultivated an extensive inventory of more than 2,400 plants native to the forests and prairies of Lower Puget Sound, including more than 70 different species. Their plants are sourced from plant salvages, donations from local business, campus research projects and classes, and from collected seeds. All proceeds from the sale go toward funding SER-UW restoration projects on campus, and providing horticulture learning opportunities for UW students.

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