Save the Date: SERNW 20th Anniversary

SERNWThe Society for Ecological Restoration – Northwest Chapter will be celebrating its 20th Anniversary on Friday, March 1, 2013, at the Mountaineers Program Center in Seattle.

Professor Jerry Franklin of the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences will be one of two featured speakers, along with David Batker, executive director of Earth Economics.

Tickets are $10, and the celebration runs from 6 to 10 p.m. There will be live music, local food and refreshments, plus special recognitions for founding members.

Learn more about the event, and contact with any questions.

Arboretum History, Maps Going Digital

Grid Map

Arboretum grid map, before.

Since it opened in 1934, the Washington Park Arboretum has hosted thousands of plant collections and species, each with a meticulously kept record and history. Until recently, many of those details from 1934 through the 1980s—when the database became digital—have been preserved solely on paper, scribbled on grid maps or filed in countless handwritten notes.

This past August, though, the University of Washington Botanic Gardens (UWBG) received a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services to begin digitizing those records and create an interactive Geographic Information Systems (GIS) map for the entire park. In the end, planners and visitors will be able to go online and pinpoint specific plants and collections within the arboretum, and access all sorts of historical details—a prospect that has everyone at UWBG and the arboretum buzzing.

“People will be able to find an area in the Arboretum, then zoom down and see which plants are there,” says Tracy Mehlin, project manager and information technology librarian at the Center for Urban Horticulture. “It will be really fascinating and educational to have all of that history linked to the plant records, and accessible online to everyone.”

Grid Map

Arboretum grid map, after.

One of the first tasks of the project was to begin surveying and verifying the geospatial coordinates of the 230-acre park, which decades ago was originally divided into 595 grid squares, each 100 feet by 100 feet. When those grid markers and coordinates are confirmed, they will be used to create a map that supports the geo-referenced database. Two- and three-person teams of students and staff have already been out surveying for the past couple months.

It’s a multi-tiered project, and Mehlin has been working closely with other partners at the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS).

Sarah Reichard, director of UWBG, is the principal investigator on the grant along with Soo-Hyung Kim, a professor of plant ecophysiology. Jim Lutz, a research scientist and engineer with the College of the Environment, has been helping coordinate the student survey crews and GIS mapping, and David Campbell is working on the searchable database and Web interface. Others involved are helping with various projects, including digitizing the existing maps, as well as handwritten notes and histories attached to each of the park’s 10,000 accessions (plants specifically added and catalogued as part of the arboretum’s collections).When completed, the searchable database will be a boon for environmental research and park management. It will also expand interpretative opportunities for visitors.

“The really fun part of it starts when it’s done,” says Reichard. “The idea is that eventually you’d be able to get the coordinates of a particular collection, like our magnolias, and locate them on your cell phone or GPS unit. We can start putting together virtual tours, and visitors can go from plant to plant.”

The grant covers two years and is expected to run through August 2014. By then, anyone with a Web-connected device will have unprecedented access to most of the living collections—barring a few rare species—at the arboretum. And for the rest, you’ll just have to come out and explore the park on foot!

Images courtesy of Tracy Mehlin.

REMINDER: Power Outage Tomorrow

All power will be out in Anderson, Bloedel and Winkenwerder halls for two hours tomorrow morning, Feb. 7, from 6 to 8 a.m., for scheduled maintenance. During this time, your Outlook email will still be operable, but all network files and the primary SEFS website will not be accessible. The buildings will be dark and completely without power.

Please plan your work schedules accordingly, and check the SEFS Facebook page—which will not be affected—for any updates or plan changes. All systems and building power should resume normally as soon as possible after 8 a.m.

SEFS Seminar Series: Week 5 Preview

Have you ever wondered if it pays to be a good environmental steward or socially responsible?

From a corporate perspective, does financial performance (profitability) increase when a company increases its environmental performance? Said another way, are profits and environmental stewardship positively correlated, siblings that get along well? Or do profits decrease—profits and environmental stewardship are negatively correlated, siblings that fight with one another? Or are profitability and environmental stewardship independent of one another—not correlated, or strangers?

And what about corporate social responsibility? Is financial performance positively, negatively or not correlated with increases in social responsibility performance?


Join Professor Dorothy Paun this Wednesday, February 6, as she presents on her triple bottom line sustainability research in Week 5 of the SEFS Seminar Series: “Environmental Stewardship, Social Equity and Corporate Profitability: Siblings or Strangers?”

Professor Paun’s presentation will provide insights about these relationships and explore the potential benefits of a triple bottom line sustainability approach—one that strives to integrate, perhaps even balance, financial, environmental and social responsibility roles, practices and commitments.

Also joining the discussion will be Robb Schmitt, currently a SEFS M.S. and Foster Business School M.B.A. student, who will talk for 10 minutes about his experiences with the team of students who help collect data in SEFS 519 (spring quarter on Tuesday and Thursday evenings).

The seminars, held in Anderson 223 on Wednesdays from 4 to 5 p.m., are open to all faculty, staff and students. Check out the rest of the seminar schedule for the Winter Quarter, and join us each week for a reception in the Forest Room from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

Slide Image © Dorothy Paun.

The Water Seminar: Water, Soils and Watersheds

Water Seminar 2013We’re already four weeks into the Water Seminar and Environmental Science and Resource Management Seminar series (ESRM 429), but there are still six presentations remaining, starting this Tuesday, February 5! The focus this Winter Quarter is “Water, Soils and Watersheds,” and the presenters represent outside partners as well as several schools within the College of the Environment and broader university community.

The seminars are open to the public and are held Tuesday mornings from 8:30 to 9:20 a.m. in Anderson 223. So mark your calendars for the dates below!

(Contact SEFS Professor Darlene Zabowski or Lynn Khuat with questions about the seminars.)

February 5
How Watershed Complexity Promotes Sustainability of Freshwater Resources to People and Wildlife
Daniel Schindler, SAFS/Department of Biology

February 12
Serving Multiple Ends: Water and Urban Design
Nancy Rottle, Landscape Architecture

February 19
Sustained Productivity Along Subarctic River Systems Explained by Biological Nitrogen Fixation
Tom DeLuca, SEFS Director

February 26
What New Learning Tells Us About the Efficacy of Riparian Forest Practice Regulations
Kevin Ceder and Mark Teply, Cramer Fish Sciences

March 5
Tsunami Impacts Past and Present: Water Where It isn’t Wanted
Jody Bourgeois, Earth & Space Sciences

March 12
Brightwater: A Wastewater Treatment System for the Future
Stan Hummel, King County

Operation Reboot: SEFS Alumni Union

Alumni Snowshoe Trip

SEFS alumni gather for a snowshoeing trek in the Cascades.

A few months ago, I turned on my home computer and watched the small wheel spin. The screen eventually turned blue. I experienced a moment of hope, and then the wheel froze. Neither a reboot nor a reinstalling of the operating system fixed the problem. ..drat! To computer wasteland our beloved iMac was heading. At the same time, I was working with a few dedicated alumni to reboot the SEFS alumni group. I was hoping that our reboot wouldn’t result in the same frozen state; that, instead, we would start the wheel spinning and it would take off!

I’m happy to report that the reboot appears to be successful! Earlier this month, we had our first official meeting, with 18 people participating and lots of great ideas being planned and discussed. The gears are starting to move. The wheels are starting to turn. The newly hired Director of the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, Tom DeLuca, and the Dean of the College of the Environment, Lisa Graumlich, are supportive of and encouraged by the direction our group is taking.

First, our new name: an alumni union?  Similar to a student union, but for alumni. A group of people who share the common bond of alma mater and a desire to help build and foster the community surrounding our former academic home. We are grassroots and decentralized, but networked, supportive and collaborative. We are fun. We are young, we are old. We are students, we work, we are retired. We studied forestry, we studied restoration ecology, we studied pulp and paper. We live in Seattle, we live in Oregon, we live in Florida. We focus our energies where we have interest and enthusiasm.

Alumni Hike

Group hike at Heather Lake.

Right now, we have more than 25 people involved—and more are always welcome! The current members are beginning to formulate activities and projects. Some of us will host happy hours at downtown restaurants, some will host BBQs at their homes or Pack Forest, some will work on special outreach or history projects, some will start seeking support to replenish the student scholarships fund, and some will help us connect with more students, alumni and industry contacts. Stay tuned for invites and opportunities to events near you.

We are planning for an inclusive, alumni-wide gathering this spring at the Center for Urban Horticulture. It will be a casual affair—BBQ and potluck—and a wonderful opportunity to bring your family and friends and reconnect with the SEFS community.  More information will be coming soon, and we hope to see many familiar and new faces there!

Be sure to connect with us on Facebook and LinkedIn, and please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’m at your service!

Ara Erickson (’04), SEFS Alumni Union Captain

Photos courtesy of Jessica Farmer.