Wildlife Seminar Kicks Off Today

This afternoon, the long-running and much-esteemed Wildlife Science Seminar (ESRM 455/554) begins for the Autumn Quarter! The seminars are open to the public, and you can enjoy the talks on Mondays from 3:30-4:20 p.m. in Bagley Hall, Room 131. Check out the full schedule below and mark your calendars!

Fall Schedule

September 30
Introduction to Class and Why Crows Matter
John Marzluff, SEFS

Brian Kertson

Brian Kertson and a captured cougar in western Washington.

October 7
Shifting Paradigms and New Challenges for Conserving Washington’s Large Carnivores in the 21st Century
Brian Kertson, Carnivore Research Scientist, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (for more background on Kertson, check out a profile we did of him a few months ago!)

October 14
David Lack and the Significance of Clutch Size in the House Sparrow
Ted Anderson, Emeritus Professor of Biology, McKendree University

October 21
Models, Mortality and Policy: Approaches to Urban Bird Conservation
Travis Longcore, The Urban Wildlands Group, Spatial Sciences Institute, University of Southern California

October 28
Living with Wolves in Ranch Country 
Suzanne Stone, Western Wolf Conservation Representative for Defenders of Wildlife

November 4
European Rabbits or Seabirds—Which Would you Choose?
Scott Pearson, Senior Research Scientist, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

November 11
No class, Veteran’s Day Holiday

November 18
Assessing the Compatibility of Fuel Treatments, Wildfire Risk and Conservation of Northern Spotted Owls in the Eastern Cascades: A Multiscale Analysis
Martin Raphael, Senior Research Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Forest Service

November 25
Aren’t Parks Protected Habitats? So Who Turned the Chainsaws Loose in Our State Parks?!

Robert Fimbel, Natural Resources Stewardship, Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission

December 2
Courtship in a Noisy World: Using Robots and Acoustic Arrays to Study Sexual Selection and Noise Impacts in a Threatened Bird
Gail Patricelli, Associate Professor, Department of Evolution and Ecology, University of California, Davis

Photo © Brian Kertson

No Fiddling Around!

Fiddleheads Forest School

Kit Harrington reads a book about emotions during story time.

In case you missed the fun news a couple weeks ago, the UW Botanic Gardens recently welcomed the inaugural class of the Fiddleheads Forest School!

The Fiddleheads program is designed to immerse preschool-aged children in the natural world and develop deeper connections to their environment. Using the outdoors classroom of the Washington Park Arboretum, UWBG’s Sarah Heller and Kit Harrington are focusing on the complete development of their students—mental, emotional, physical and social. They’re now a couple weeks into the program with their first of 24 families, and we can’t wait to see these young nature lovers grow up to be SEFS students down the road!

Check out the full story from Patrick Mulligan, continuing education coordinator at the Arboretum!

Photo © UWBG.

Director’s Message: Autumn 2013

Paul BunyanAs a kid growing up in Wisconsin, I had a pretty romantic view of forests, mountains, park rangers and foresters. I was too young to recognize some of the depleted woodlands to the north, but I definitely saw burly, 30-foot Paul Bunyan statues proudly displayed in towns across the state, and I equated the life of a forester with being outdoors and being a conservationist. And why not? Some of the greatest minds in conservation were initially foresters, including Aldo Leopold and John Muir, who both have deep connections in Wisconsin and in forest management—even though today these icons of land conservation are rarely described as foresters.

Muir was born in Scotland but grew up in Wisconsin. After he completed degrees in botany at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, he went to work as a forester and as a sawyer at a lumber mill in Indiana before heading west to ultimately promote land preservation. Leopold was born in Iowa but worked much of his life as a forester. He eventually joined the faculty at the University of Wisconsin, and through his observations in the woods created the notion of practical conservation and described the land ethic that lives on in many of us today.

So as I look out at our students in the halls this fall, I wonder about their connection to the land, and how they reflect on terms such as wilderness, conservation, forests, forestry and foresters. I wonder if they grew up in neighborhoods where they could escape to stroll through the woods and peacefully observe natural ecosystems at work. I also wonder, in this age of reality television and social media, if the concept of sustainable forest management can even compete with their screens—or if all that breaks through the stream of split-second updates are visions of clear-cutting, or an ESPN highlight of lumberjacks sawing for sport.

A Sand County Almanac

A Sand County Almanac, published in 1949, is the collection of essays in which Aldo Leopold described his “land ethic.”

After all, our population in the United States is increasingly urban, with current estimates that 80 percent of us now live in or around cities. That figure is growing by 1.2 percent every year, and the burgeoning Greater Puget Sound area alone could absorb 60 percent growth in the next 50 years. With this increasing urbanization often comes a dwindling understanding of both natural and working landscapes, and the role these lands play in our overall wellbeing.

That’s why we have such an important responsibility with conservation and forestry education here in this urban setting of Seattle. We are uniquely positioned to strengthen environmental values our students bring with them, and to cultivate new ties to the land. As professors and researchers and mentors, our mission is to teach our students about the value of forests and forest products in creating a sustainable society. Most importantly, it’s our job to train a workforce that can effectively manage these lands in a manner that simultaneously protects biodiversity and clean water and delivers an enduring supply of renewable building materials and other alternative forest products.

During the next 10 years, I hope to see forestry once again broadly equated with conservation and a strong ethic for the land. Developing that relationship, of course, is a lifelong process, and we now have programs in place at Pack Forest and the UW Botanic Gardens with the specific goal of getting kids out into the woods, and to initiate a relationship with the natural world at an early age. I’m excited to see that education nourished from preschool through high school, and to capture those budding foresters and conservationists in our undergraduate and graduate programs. With each class we reach, I can’t help but feel optimistic about the future of forestry—and our role in making sure forests and forest products play in central role in building a sustainable future for generations to come.

Guest Seminar: Oscar Venter, James Cook University

This coming Tuesday, September 24, we’re kicking off the return of classes with a guest seminar from Dr. Oscar Venter, a post-doctoral fellow in the Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science at James Cook University in Australia. We’re excited to have him here for his talk, “Mapping Conservation and Habitat Degradation at the Planetary Scale,” so come out and join us in the Forest Club Room from 1-2 p.m.!

Oscar Venter
Oscar Venter, James Cook University

Originally from Salt Spring Island in Canada, Venter’s research interests include mapping human impacts on the environment, ecological planning and conservation finance and policy. He completed his PhD in 2011 at the University of Queensland, where he focused on payments for ecosystem services and trade-offs between development and conservation in the tropics. His current postdoctoral fellowship is focused on developing methods to map, predict and plan for land cover change in Indonesia and at the global scale.

About the Seminar

“We live in exciting times,” writes Venter, “with the world around us changing at unprecedented rates. Some of this change is undeniably good. For instance, protected areas have recently emerged as one of the planet’s dominant land uses, and they now cover more land area than all agricultural crops combined. Still, as the human population becomes larger and per-capita consumption increases, the pressures we exert on the natural environments around us expand and intensify at pace. Our expanded influence on the planet causes either in situ habitat degradation or outright habitat conversion, and in turn the decline in the ecosystem services on which we depend and irreplaceable biological diversity. In this seminar, I will talk about my work using decision science and land cover change modeling to map these changes, both positive and negative, globally.”

Venter will be giving his talk on Tuesday, September 24, from 1-2 p.m. in the Forest Club Room. Come if you can!

Photo © Oscar Venter.

Laurel Peelle to Kick off New Speaker Series at ONRC

This Saturday, September 21, the Olympic Natural Resources Center (ONRC) in Forks, Wash., is organizing a community potluck and evening program, which will highlight the research of Laurel Peelle, a graduate student at the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS).

Laurel Peelle

Laurel Peelle and a captured lynx.

The program is the first in a new speaker series out at the ONRC campus. Each month, the plan is to have a graduate student or other regional expert give a public talk to engage members of the Forks and surrounding communities in exciting research projects throughout the state.

For this initial lecture, the Friends of ONRC group will be meeting before the program at 5:30 for a potluck dinner (ONRC will be grilling up barbecued ribs and providing potato salad, and attendees are encouraged to bring a side dish or dessert to share). Then, at 6:30 p.m., Peelle will give a talk about her ongoing research into the predation patterns on snowshoe hares by the endangered Canada lynx and other predators of Washington’s boreal forests.

Working with Professor Aaron Wirsing in the Predator Ecology Lab at SEFS, Peelle recently completed field work that included three years of snowshoe hare live-trapping, deploying radio collars on hares, monitoring survival, documenting predation events, measuring habitat features at kill sites, and attempting to identify the responsible predator species at each kill site using physical evidence, tracks and modern forensics. She hopes her research will help identify the features of successful lynx foraging habitat in comparison to the surrounding landscape, as well as in comparison to “kill sites” attributable to other predators (e.g., coyote, bobcat, pine marten and raptor).

If you happen to be in the area on Saturday, feel free to hop in and catch Peelle’s talk, which is open to the public!

For more information about the potluck and program, contact Ellen Matheny at ematheny@uw.edu or 360.374.4556.

About the Speaker Series
In addition to bringing speakers and interesting research out to ONRC, the series provides a great opportunity for graduate students to gain experience presenting their research to the public, and to a generally non-scientific audience. For participating speakers, ONRC will cover travel expenses and provide lodging for the night, as well as a stipend of $200. Future opportunities for SEFS graduate students are coming up in November, January, March and May; the day and time for each event is flexible and will depend in part on the speaker’s schedule. If you are interested in giving a talk or know someone who would be a great fit for this series, please contact Karl Wirsing!

Photos © Laurel Peelle.
Snowshoe Hare

SEFS Seminar Series: Fall Schedule Announced!

It’s been a long, quiet summer in Anderson Hall, but the start of Fall Quarter is just around the corner—which means the return of footsteps clomping through the hallways, rabid jostling for coffee in the kitchen, and a Forest Room revived from eerie dormancy. It also means the return of the SEFS Seminar Series beginning on Tuesday, October 1!

SEFS Seminar SeriesThe day and start time of the seminars is changing—they will now be held on Tuesdays from 3:30 to 4:20 p.m.—but you can still catch the action in Anderson 223 with 10 weeks of presentations from your colleagues and other experts in the field. (Graduate students and undergraduates can receive 2 credits: ESRM490F or SEFS550C).

This fall, the series includes four weeks devoted to aspects of alternative energy generation from forest products, including a three-week segment on forest residue-based biofuel research. Other topical areas include plant physiology, endophyte microbiology, fire ecology and human dimensions of fire management, and brown bear behavior along salmon-spawning streams in Alaska. In short, one heck of a line-up!

Kicking off the quarter will be Mary Ruckelshaus from Natural Capital Project with her talk, “Valuing Nature’s Benefits” (we’ll have more on her seminar next week). All students, staff and faculty are welcome to attend, so mark your calendars for the dates below and come out and spend an hour each week with your fellow colleagues and classmates!

Week 1: October 1
Mary Ruckelshaus, Natural Capital: “ Valuing Nature’s Benefits”

Week 2: October 8
Fernando Resende, SEFS: “Thermochemical Conversion of Lignocellulosic Biomass into Fuels and Chemicals”

Week 3: October 15
Don McKenzie, U.S. Forest Service: “Climate Change, Wildfires and Why We Need Ecologists”

Week 4: October 22
Soo-Hyung Kim, SEFS: “Is Increasing Leaf Albedo an Effective Crop Improvement Strategy for Climate Change Adaptation?”

Week 5: October 29
Aaron Wirsing, SEFS: “Noninvasive Exploration of Brown Bear Behavior Along Salmon-Spawning Streams in the Wood River Lakes System, Alaska.”

Week 6: November 5
Stanley Asah, SEFS: “Inciting Organizational Ambidexterity in the Forest Service: Community-Agency Interactions, Personality, and Perceived Organizational Obstruction in Fire Management.”

Week 7: November 12
Team-led by Renata Bura, SEFS: “Bioconversion of Forest Residuals to Biofuels – Technical, Economic, and Life-Cycle Assessments”

Week 8: November 19
Team-led by Sandor Toth, SEFS: “Optimization and Economic Impacts of a Washington State Biofuels Industry Using Forest Residuals”

Week 9: November 26
Team-led by Clare Ryan, SEFS: “Social and Policy Implications of a Washington State Biofuels Industry Using Forest Residuals.”

Week 10: December 3     
Sharon Doty, SEFS: “Increasing Crop Growth and Biomass Production Sustainably Using Natural Endosymbionts of Poplar”

Job Placement Paradise

For college graduates, the triumphant feeling of earning an undergraduate degree doesn’t seem to last too long these days—or at least not nearly long enough. You barely have time to pop the cork and celebrate before the stress of finding a job can turn high fives into handwringing and headaches. Headlines about the job market, after all, have been rather ominous. Hiring is sluggish. Budgets are pinched. Open positions are gobbled up by people with a dozen more years of work experience. In short, unpredictability reigns.

But not all graduates are feeling that sense of dread and uncertainty. In fact, commencement remains a season of opportunity for students earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Bioresource Science and Engineering (BSE) from the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences.

Papermaking Lab

Working in the paper lab at SEFS.

Graduating with a BSE degree has resulted in essentially 100 percent job placement—and with an average salary of roughly $66,000. So basically every BSE graduate who has sought a position in the field has found one. That’s an impressive success rate, and it speaks volumes about the value of the BSE program.

Formerly called Pulp and Paper Technology and then Paper Science and Engineering, BSE was established as an accredited engineering degree program at the University of Washington in 1965. It’s one of only eight programs in the country that offers a concentration involving paper science and bioresource conversion (and the only one west of the Mississippi River). The curriculum is possibly best described as applied chemical engineering with an emphasis on the conversion of forest and bioresources into paper, fuel and chemicals. Students enjoy a wide range of hands-on classes, ranging from actually making paper to producing biofuels, and they often land entry-level positions as process engineers, technical sales engineers, and research or production engineers.

The firms recruiting these graduates represent a wide range of industries, including pulp and paper manufacturers, chemical manufacturers, process and computer control companies, and engineering design companies. They come from communities across the Pacific Northwest and around the country, as well as from international locations.

BSE Students

BSE students work on their formulas for the next paper run.

Since 1968, the nonprofit Washington Pulp and Paper Foundation has worked to connect these firms with highly qualified technical graduates who understand and are dedicated to the industry. Housed within the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, the Foundation is comprised of member companies, alumni and friends, and its work linking students with potential employers has been highly effective: Of the nearly 500 students who have graduated from the BSE program, about 80 percent have chosen careers in the pulp, paper and allied industries.

Mike Roberts, executive director of WPPF, grew up in Aberdeen, Wash., and graduated from UW. He’s watched the original pulp and paper focus expand and evolve to include biofuels and other applications, but the practical value of the degree has never changed.

“As students and employers have come to realize that our forest and bioresources are truly renewable, the support of our program and the desire to hire our graduates has steadily increased,” says Roberts. “We count on the support of Foundation members, BSE alumni and program friends to continue our scholarship and placement mission.”

For students concerned about what to do after graduation, that kind of job placement success can offer a real opportunity.

Photos © Karl Wirsing/SEFS.

Fall Planting Party!

If the start of Fall Quarter has you fired up and extra motivated to get your hands dirty, you can channel that energy on Saturday, October 19, at a volunteer work party with our friends at Conservation Northwest!

The fall planting, organized by Conservation Northwest and other local partners, will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. near Snoqualmie Pass along the Interstate 90 corridor. Their goal is to recruit 40 to 80 volunteers to help restore and connect important habitat, and they’ll be planting native plants, including ground cover, shrubs and willows, all around the Gold Creek pond area.

Gold CreekGold Creek is an essential pathway for wildlife moving north and south in Washington’s Cascades and needs greater protection and connectivity. Beginning in 2007, Conservation Northwest and partners began restoration efforts reducing invasive plants and recovering native species. Not only is Gold Creek an important place for wildlife, it also offers popular and important recreation opportunities, including picnic areas, an ADA-accessible trail, and trail access to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

Beverages, snacks, work gloves and tools will be provided, but you’ll want to bring a lunch and extra water. If you have your own favorite gardening gloves, feel free to bring those as well.

To learn more or RSVP for the planting, contact Jen Watkins and come join Conservation Northwest in their efforts to improve Gold Creek for wildlife and human uses!

Photo © Conservation Northwest.

Keeping the Emerald City Green

Seattle has long been known as the Emerald City because of its lush green environment and beautiful trees, and the city of Seattle hopes to keep its neighborhoods green by actively planting new trees for future generations.

Trees for Neighborhoods

Seattle residents have until October 11 to apply for trees this year.

The greatest potential for planting trees in Seattle is on private residential property, so Seattle reLeaf—housed within Seattle Public Utilities—launched the “Trees for Neighborhoods” project a couple years ago to provide 1,000 free trees each fall for Seattle residents to plant in their yards and planting strips. And this year, for the first time, the University of Washington Botanic Gardens is working with the city to help distribute the trees and engage residents in urban forest stewardship.

The UW Botanic Gardens’ involvement may be new, but the project’s roots with the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS) run deeper. In fact, Seattle reLeaf Program Manager Jana Dilley earned a joint Masters from SEFS and the Evans School of Public Affairs in 2010, and the Trees for Neighborhoods program was developed based on her thesis research. Now, Dilley and an intern, Katie Gibbons (who is also a current SEFS/Evans graduate student), manage the project.

The city is currently taking applications from interested residents who have space suitable for growing trees. To participate, you must live in Seattle. You can apply to receive up to four trees per household, and when you come to the UW Botanic Gardens’ Center for Urban Horticulture to pick up your plants—either on October 19 or November 3—you’ll receive a brief training on how to properly plant and care for the trees, as well as free watering bags. You’ll also get ongoing care reminders and opportunities for additional training, like pruning workshops, says Jessica Farmer, continuing education coordinator for the UW Botanic Gardens. Farmer is managing the support from the university side, including help with outreach, tree storage, distribution and training.

If you’re hoping to plant in your yard, you have until October 11 to apply for trees. The deadline to apply for street trees has passed, unfortunately, but if you’re interested in receiving advance notice of next year’s application opening, email treesforneighborhoods@seattle.gov.

Trees for Neighborhoods

A number of varieties are already sold out for this year, but you can add your name to the waiting list or sign up to receive early notice when the application process kicks off next year.

As for your tree options, many varieties are already sold out for this year, yet Farmer recommends that you add your name to the waiting list, as more than 50 percent of those on the waiting list received trees last year. This year’s trees with the shortest waiting lists are Austrian pine and Oriental spruce. These larger conifers are often the hardest to place, but Seattle reLeaf encourages residents who have the space to plant them. As they grow and mature, these conifers offer ideal cover for birds and other wildlife, stabilize soil with their roots, and help keep Puget Sound and other water bodies clean by trapping rain runoff and pollutants.

Right now, the trees are still at the growers and will be delivered to the Center for Urban Horticulture in early October. That’s where participating residents will pick up their trees during the distribution days on either October 19 or November 3.

If you have questions about the application process or how to get involved, Seattle reLeaf has assembled a host of great resources to help you navigate the program, including an online and paper option for the application, an up-to-date list of available trees, and “Things To Consider When Planting a Tree” and “Frequently Asked Questions” pages. You can also direct inquiries to treesforneighborhoods@seattle.gov or 206.615.1668.

Photos © Courtesy of Seattle reLeaf

An October Hike with Tom Hinckley!

If those first whiffs of fall have been intoxicating to you, then make sure to sign up for a full-on autumn immersion this October when Professor Emeritus Tom Hinckley leads one of his famous alumni hikes into the Methow Valley!

Methow Valley

What awaits you in the Methow Valley this October!

On Saturday, October 5, and Sunday, October 6, Hinckley is planning to gather up to 20 folks for two days of trekking. Depending on the weather, interest and ability levels, he’ll select from a range of hikes focused on Rainy and Washington passes, Cutthroat Lake and Pass, Hart’s Pass, Goat Peak and a few other options, with the goal of finding reasonable weather and subalpine larch.

For those responding early, Hinckley is offering space for about eight hikers at a house very near the Mazama Country Inn . There are two bedrooms with queen-sized beds, plus a loft with a fold-down bed and several thick sleeping pads (enough space, he found this past May, to fit eight students). The house has a large balcony and porch, and full food services and showers will be available.

You don’t have to stay there to join the fun, and faculty, staff and students are also welcome to take part. So if you’re interested in joining the hike or would like more information, contact Hinckley at hinckley@uw.edu or call 206.525.1396.

Photo © Tom Hinckley.