UW Farm Opens Weekly Produce Stand Along Burke-Gilman Trail

Beginning this Friday, August 29, the UW Farm will be partnering with UW Transportation Services to set up a weekly farm stand on the Burke-Gilman Trail from 3 to 5:30 p.m. The stand will be located just across the trail from the Husky Grind at the Mercer Court apartments.

UW Farm Stand

The Burke-Gilman Trail along the Mercer Court apartments, where the farm stand will be located.

You’ll be able to pick out fresh, hyper-local lettuce, kale, chard, heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, carrots, beets, zucchini, summer squash, cucumbers, turnips, radishes, beans, tomatillos, herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary, oregano, thyme, lavender), mustard, garlic and more!

The UW Farm is a campus center for the practice and study of urban agriculture and sustainability. It is an educational, community-oriented resource for people who want to learn about building productive and sustainable urban landscapes. All proceeds go toward sustainable farming education and student development, and you can contact UW Farm Manager Sarah Geurkink if you have any questions or would like to get involved.

So stop by and support a great program!

Photos © UW Farm.

UW Farm Stand

John Tylczak: The Northwoods Photographic Project

For the month of October, we are very pleased to feature an exhibition of photographs by John Tylczak in the Forest Club Room! Tylczak (pronounced tile-zack) grew up in Shelton, Wash., where four generations of his family have lived since 1885; his grandfather, in fact, was the executor of Agnes Anderson’s estate. The black-and-white portraits he is sharing with us come from his broader collection, Views from the Northwoods: 1983-1995, which captures the faces of the Washington timber industry in the mid-1980s and early 1990s—an age of great change and transition in the logging community, from vastly shrinking workforces to more mechanized production.

John Tylczak

John Tylczak’s family has lived around Shelton, Wash., for four generations.

Tylczak says he first felt the power of photography in 1978 when he was in graduate school studying American social history at the University of Connecticut. “There was a rainy, cold day, and I was feeling kind of homesick,” he says, so he headed a few miles down the road to the neighboring town of Willimantic. He wandered into a bookstore and came across Dave Bohn’s newly released book of Darius Kinsey’s photographs. Kinsey (1869-1945) was famous for his photographs of loggers and the virgin timberland of western Washington from 1890 to 1940. The scenes were immensely familiar to Tylczak, whose own family had arrived in the area only a few years before Kinsey got to work in Sedro-Woolley.

“I just sat on the floor and gazed through those magnificent images for maybe an hour,” says Tylczak. “It relieved my homesickness, but it also opened a window to realizing how important photographers are to understanding our history.”

John Tylczak

Taken in 1988, one of the photos in Tylczak’s collection.

That experience helped shape Tylczak’s passion and career, and through the years he worked on a number of long-term photo collections, including Views from the Northwoods, which took him more than a decade to complete and includes more than 1,500 large-format images. When he started the project in 1983, he had set out to photographically re-explore the timber industry of western Washington and create a historical record of what the industry really looked like during that time period.

Part of what makes the collection so special is that Tylczak had nearly total access to forest roads and timber operations; he would often simply stroll up to a mill or field site and ask permission to photograph the workers—and was almost always welcomed. The results are an incredibly intimate, unvarnished reflection of the logging community, from the fallers and rigging crews, to loaders and transport workers, to log scalers and mill workers.

Tylczak is still active in photography and has several other ongoing collections, including photographing abandoned railroad trestles. He currently teaches graphic design and photography at Governor John R. Rogers High School in Puyallup, Wash., and we very much appreciate his generosity in sharing some of his wonderful portraits with our school.

The exhibition will be on display in the Forest Club Room and available for viewing during normal business hours in Anderson Hall (8 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.). Come out and take a look this October!

Photos © John Tylczak.

New Staff Bio: Sarah Thomas

Greetings, SEFS community! I am pleased to be writing to you as the new outreach and events specialist for our school. I’m thrilled to be here, and I’m looking forward to planning some amazing events, showcasing the school’s achievements and strengthening the alumni community to increase involvement across the board. And, furthermore, SEFS seems like an amazing place to cultivate my passion for environmental conservation and sustainable living/playing/building/eating/harvesting—you name it!

Sarah Thomas

Thomas in Central Park.

As a Husky graduate and former School of Medicine employee of six years, I’m no stranger to the UW. I have a BA in Arts, Media and Culture, with an emphasis in Communications, as well as a UW Editing Certificate. I’ve worked in a variety of UW departments and roles—from tracking medical student compliance in the Deans Office, to coordinating events at the Graduate Medical Education Office, to my last role coordinating communications and outreach, planning events and managing office operations at the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center (HIPRC). In addition to my work at UW, I’ve also held communications and event planning positions in state government, nonprofit art organizations, commercial art galleries and real estate.

I left HIPRC this April to pursue professional real estate photography. It was a striking change of pace that gave me a much-needed jolt of creativity. And while it was a fun way to spend the summer, my long-term career goals are firmly rooted in communications and outreach. Joining your community is a little like having my cake and eating it too—I’m able to do something I enjoy, for a school that inspires me.

It’s funny, I’d only been out of the UW system for about a week when I got the call to interview for this position. Even though I’d just left UW, I knew I couldn’t pass this up. I felt like Al Pacino in The Godfather III—say it with me, “Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in.” But, not in the terrifying Mafia way. In good way. A great way!

When I’m off the clock, I’m out exploring the world, either on foot as a runner, hiker and urban wanderer, or through an art lens surveying Seattle’s vibrant music, film and art scene. I’m also an occasional freelance writer for Earshot Jazz, a local news magazine. Oh, and I brew beer. And, sure, I like to indulge in a good Netflix marathon here and there too.

My office is located in 107C Anderson Hall. Come stop by and say hello!

Photo © Sarah Thomas.

SEFS Students Present Forest Stewardship Plan to King County

This past spring, 14 SEFS students had the unique opportunity to partner with King County to write a forest stewardship plan for the 645-acre Black Diamond Natural Area, south of Seattle near Maple Valley. Writing the plan was the focus of a new course set up to provide applied, real-world forest management opportunities for students: Applied Forest Ecology & Management (SEFS521/ESRM490).

Black Diamond Natural Area

Black Diamond Natural Area

King County had purchased this forested land through a series of acquisitions during the past decade as part of the King County Open Space Plan. These forests, which were previously managed as industrial plantations, needed a long-term stewardship plan that aligned with King County Parks’ goals of providing recreational opportunities to the public while maintaining the social, ecological and economic functions of the forests. King County has recognized that these dense, 15- to 30-year-old Douglas-fir plantations need active management to provide quality, long-term habitat and recreation. Yet the land is right in the middle of a rapidly developing area where managing forests presents a major social challenge. So to facilitate that planning process, the county partnered with SEFS on this course—co-taught by Research Associate Derek Churchill and Associate Professor Greg Ettl—that would give students direct experience designing a stewardship plan.

Specifically, students were tasked with designing a stewardship plan and stand-level prescriptions for Douglas-fir plantations where the major uses have now shifted to mountain biking, horseback riding and trail running. The quarter was split between field sampling and inventorying forest structure, and also class sessions covering stand dynamics, variable-density thinning, logging systems, FVS modeling and landscape analysis, among other topics. With the heavy field component, students gained hands-on experience with a number of forestry concepts, including mastering the Relaskop, using density diagrams, installing inventory plots and cruising timber, as well as how concepts from forest ecology directly apply to designing forest management treatments. Throughout the quarter, students were able to draw on the expertise of Professor Emeritus Peter Schiess and several SEFS alumni, including Paul Wagner, Paul Fisher and Jeff Comnick.

Sean Jeronimo

SEFS grad student Sean Jeronimo measuring tree heights in the project area.

Students also engaged and interacted with neighboring communities in Maple Valley that are adjacent to the project area—a sensitive social dimension that is essential to successful forest stewardship in the proximity of urban growth boundaries. These neighborly considerations hit especially close to home for one of the students, Mary Starr, who has lived in Maple Valley for four years and knows firsthand the close relationship these communities have to their natural areas. “If you can work with stakeholders to do forestry successfully here, you can do it anywhere,” says Churchill.

While each student was assigned to write a section of the final stewardship plan, Abraham Ngu, a Master of Forest Resources candidate, coordinated and edited the final plan as part of his capstone project. The course then culminated with the students giving a formal presentation of their management recommendations to county officials, including the lead environmental coordinators.

Feedback from the county was immensely positive. Officials praised the students and, perhaps most importantly, gave a sincere indication they would like to continue the collaboration. In his post-presentation email to the course instructors, Dave Kimmett, program manager of King County Parks, wrote, “Is it too soon to think about the next class? The students made a very good impression today. ”

Not too soon at all, in fact, as King County Parks administration had a follow-up meeting with SEFS Director Tom DeLuca, Ettl and Churchill this past July, paving the way for another class in the spring of 2015.

Nice work!

Photos © Sam Israel/SEFS.


Record Salmon Surge in Alaska

Every year, hundreds of millions of salmon swim from the Pacific Ocean into streams and rivers up and down the West Coast from California to Alaska. They make their way, with remarkable precision and determination, to spawn in the very grounds where they were born. “It’s one of, if not the grandest migrations in the whole world,” says Professor Aaron Wirsing, who recently returned from two weeks at the Fisheries Research Institute in the village of Aleknagik, Alaska.

He was there was part of a joint project between two units in the College of the Environment—the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences (SAFS) and the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS)—that launched in 2010. Led by Professors Tom Quinn and Wirsing, the research team is investigating coastal brown bear (Ursus arctos) abundance and behavior along sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) spawning streams in Alaska’s Wood River Lakes System.

Salmon Surge

This summer, the total number of salmon in Hansen Creek is already double previous counts.

This field season, while the researchers haven’t seen as many bears, they are witnessing a record salmon run that continues to pour into the system. The latest count for just one of the streams, Hansen Creek, is already more than 50,000 salmon—which is more than double the previous record for the whole summer. Picture those fish, some 20,000 at a time, packed into a two-kilometer stretch of water only four meters wide and barely five centimeters deep. That’s a lot of fins in the water, and it makes for an unforgettable sight. “It’s like salmon soup,” says Professor Wirsing.

Before the salmon embark on that last leg to the spawning ground, they often pool at the entry point to the creek and wait days, even weeks, before venturing into the current. Why they pause at the creek mouth, and what triggers the last desperate dash, isn’t entirely clear, though it’s thought to be partly a response to predation risk, with the salmon entering in huge waves to overwhelm their predators—in this case, brown bears. The presence of fish in the creek, with silt kicked up by spawning salmon upstream, might also be a cue for others to follow.

In the best of years, salmon causalities are still fairly high as they near the end of this journey (and all Pacific salmon perish after spawning). Some lack the energy to make the final surge up the stream, or they get stranded in the shallows, sometimes just feet from their destination; others get snapped up by bears, or they provide a gruesome feast for birds that peck away at the half-exposed fish. This year, as well, the salmon are facing extreme low water levels. In many spots, the sockeye barely have a few centimeters to buoy them up the stream, and they have to muster an even more heroic effort to splash their way to the finish.

Salmon Surge

In many places, the salmon have to make their way through only a few centimeters of water.

It’s too early to know precisely what has fueled this record salmon run, says Wirsing, but it could be linked to favorable oceanic conditions (e.g. lots of food at sea). One clear consequence of the high numbers, though, is higher pre-spawning mortality, due both to stranding and to low dissolved oxygen levels in the crowded streams. These salmon will also bring a huge pulse of marine-derived nutrients, which will bolster freshwater invertebrate and bear populations, and even make their way into riparian plants. One other longer-term effect, too, is that there should be another large run in four years when the offspring of these salmon have matured—provided, of course, that enough fish this year are able to spawn and oceanic conditions are again favorable.

Words and photos can’t fully capture the intensity of the annual run, but luckily Professor Wirsing got some great video (below) of the salmon scrum at the entrance to Hansen Creek. It’s like marathoners jockeying for position before the start of a race!

Photos © Aaron Wirsing/SEFS and Tom Quinn/SAFS; salmon video © Aaron Wirsing.

Student Technology Fee Grant Winners for SEFS!

Marc Morrison was very pleased to report that four SEFS proposals—all student-driven—were recently funded by Student Technology Fee (STF) grants!

STF is funded by UW students with a $41 fee assessed each quarter. Every year, in turn, university departments and students can send in requests for grants from this fund to help cover a variety of technological ventures around campus, such as acquiring lab equipment or gear for field research. As the name of the program suggests, these grants must be geared toward student use, and last year STF funded nearly $5 million in projects.

This year, SEFS students helped secure nearly $250,000 in funding, so check out the winning proposals below! (Also, if you’d like to apply for STF funding next year, find out what kinds of projects are eligible.)

2014 Grant Winners for SEFS

Process and Analytical Equipment for Biofuels Production

The Biofuels and Bioproducts Laboratory (BBL) , which explores all aspects of the bioconversion/thermochemical conversion of lignocellulosic materials into biofuels and bioproducts, requested a grant to purchase state-of-the-art analytical tools, including Raman Spectroscopy (RS) as a real-time fermentation measurement technique; GC-MS (Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry) for quantitative product identification; high-pressure syringe pumps for supercritical fluid applications; and powerful, high-speed computers to run simulations to verify and complement experimental results. The computers and process and analytical equipment the lab requested will be a great benefit to not only the BBL graduate and undergraduate students, but to the entire SEFS undergraduate community, because every graduating junior and graduate student in the Bioresource Science & Engineering (BSE) program of SEFS takes BSE 426, which would include experiments to convert ethanol into gasoline using the high-pressure pump, and analysis procedures with the GC-MS and new computers.

Total grant award: $169,909.71

Natural Resources Field Tool Kits
To assist field research capabilities for SEFS graduate and undergraduate students, this grant requested funds to acquire tablet computers with rugged cases and other associated measurement tools, or a “Natural Resources Field Tool Kit” that students can reserve and check out for field-based data collection. The tablets will optimize student information management by allowing direct data input, photography/videography, spatial and mapping inference, as well as access to field guides and scientific literature while in remote settings. The equipment will be available to students campus-wide and will set UW students apart by giving them expertise and opportunities for unexpected innovations using these developing technologies, as opposed to continued reliance on outdated tools and techniques for field research.

Total grant award: $30,437.95

College of the Environment Field Research Equipment
A group of SEFS graduate students requested this grant to purchase wildlife field research equipment that has the potential to benefit many students studying in the College of the Environment. This grant will cover the purchase of remote cameras—currently unavailable to most students—and field equipment to run at least two camera-based wildlife research projects, or provide a College field course with enough equipment to run a thorough wildlife research project. Other items to be purchased, including field laptops, wildlife camera traps, portable GPS units and SPOT receivers (satellite positioning and tracking devices used for emergency communications), will provide students throughout the College with access to state-of-the-art equipment that will allow them to apply what they learn in the classroom to rigorous wildlife field research—including as part of senior capstone projects.

Total grant award: $44,009.62

Restoration Ecology Network GPS Units
The University of Washington Restoration Ecology Network (UW REN) Capstone in Ecological Restoration, a 13-year-old program that continues to grow each year, currently involves 63 students. This grant will allow for the purchase of badly needed equipment—specifically, six GPS units—for ESRM seniors and graduate students to ensure they have the tools to create professional, computer-based maps for their restoration planning documents related to their UW REN Capstone project.

Total grant award: $3,889.05

“Farm 5” Picnic Reunites UW-WSU Collaborators

On Tuesday, July 29, a group of researchers and their families met for a picnic outside of Puyallup, Wash., to commemorate the 40th anniversary of a research collaboration between the University of Washington and Washington State University—a program that laid the foundation for the current biofuels research at SEFS.

Organized in large part by Professor Emeritus Reinhard Stettler, the gathering brought together some of the core members of a research team that has spent several decades exploring the unusual potential of growing hybrid poplars.

Farm 5 Picnic

The hybrid poplars, marked here with ribbon, quickly proved their unusual growth potential compared to non-hybrid neighboring trees.

In 1968, Stettler published a paper in Nature in which he described a mechanism to overcome a major barrier to hybridization in native cottonwoods—and he needed a place for the hybrids he had produced to grow. He turned to Professor Paul Heilman, based at WSU’s Puyallup Research & Extension Center, who agreed to plant the hybrids as well as the female Populus trichocarpa parents.

It was the early 1970s, and the Middle East oil embargo was driving up gas prices and threatening supply, so the U.S. Department of Energy put out a request for proposals on using biomass as a potential energy source. Stettler and Heilman secured one of the first grants through that program in 1978—a grant that would fund research for 20-plus years—and forged a partnership with WSU to conduct research on the genetic and environmental factors responsible for growth and disease resistance in the native black cottonwood and its offspring with known parents from eastern cottonwood or Populus deltoides.

“It was an important and model partnership between the state’s two major research institutions, WSU and UW,” says Professor Emeritus Tom Hinckley, a long-time collaborator on the project. “Without the one, the other would have failed.”

The July picnic brought many of the collaborators together at that original site, known as Farm 5, and included an update and field tour about ongoing research there involving a new generation of poplars. Hinckley especially enjoyed the opportunity to get reacquainted with former colleagues and students. “For me, it was the first time back there since 1992 or 1993, and it just brought back a flood of memories,” he says.

Photos © Tom Hinckley & Nico Stettler.

Farm 5 Picnic

At the picnic (alphabetical): Curt Bod, former staff, WSU; Toby Bradshaw, former postdoc and research assistant professor, biology; Michael Carlson, former graduate student; Lynn Catlett, former staff, UW (+ Tony Ferruci); Reinhart Ceulemans, former visiting scientist (+Hedwig); Tom DeLuca, SEFS Director; Sharon Doty, SEFS Professor; Joan Dunlap, former graduate student; Gordon Ekuan, former staff, WSU; Ruth Fenn, former graduate student & staff, UW (+Lauren); Arturo Figliola, former graduate student (+Nino); Dylan Fischer, current faculty, Evergreen State College; Diane Fogle, former staff, WSU; Alex Friend, former graduate student; Paula Glackin, former staff, UW (+Jim); Barri Herman, current staff scientist at WSU and head of Poplar Program; Tom Hinckley, SEFS Professor Emeritus and former graduate student (+Arline); Jud Isebrands, former visiting scientist, former research scientist, USFS (+Sharon); Jeff Kallestad, current research staff, WSU; Carrie LeRoy, current faculty, Evergreen State College; Randi Luchterhand, current staff, WSU; Don Rice, current staff at Greenwood Industries (+Fran); Giuseppe Scarascia, former visiting scientist and graduate student) (+Elisa, Costanza, Tommaso); Barbara Smit, former faculty, SEFS (+Jim); Brian Stanton, current staff, Greenwood Industries (+Carol); Reini Stettler, former faculty, SEFS (+Dan, Nico); Liz VanVolkenburgh, professor, biology; Marc Villar, former visiting scientist (+Pascale); Brian Watson, former staff, UW (+Do); Jack Whisler, former staff, UW; Brenda Wiard, former graduate student (+Mark).

David G. Briggs: 1943-2014

We were extremely sad to learn last week that a wonderful member of the SEFS family, Professor Emeritus David Briggs, passed away at his home on Saturday, July 26.

Briggs was born on July 3, 1943, in North Brookfield, Mass. He earned his bachelor’s at the University of Massachusetts, a master’s from Yale University, and his doctorate from the College of Forest Resources (CFR). He first joined CFR as a graduate student around 1968, but in the early 1970s he briefly left the university to work as an analyst for Washington Iron Works in Seattle. After returning and finishing his dissertation in 1980, Briggs joined the CFR faculty and taught operations research and forest products for more than three decades until his retirement in 2011.

David G. BriggsIn his many distinguished years with our school, he simultaneously served as director of the Stand Management Cooperative and the Precision Forestry Cooperative, and also directed the UW site of the National Science Foundation’s Center for Advanced Forestry Systems. Briggs was respected as a great leader and collaborator, and he was appointed as the Corkery Chair in recognition of his scholarly and professional contributions. He mentored dozens of graduate and undergraduate students, as well as young professors, and was especially known for his enormous generosity and kindness. Even as his health started to slow him down, he continued participating in school affairs and kept an active research profile.

His decorated career as a professor is only part of what his many friends and colleagues remember so fondly. With a tremendous zeal for life and the outdoors, Briggs was an avid climber and mountaineer, and was famous for his storytelling—such as tales of climbing peaks, up and back, early in the morning before the rest of his party had even woken up. He loved traveling and had only recently returned from a trip with his wife Anne to Mongolia and the Gobi Desert. He also had an affinity for animals, at various times keeping llamas, chickens, geese, dogs, cats and a horse on his land.

Briggs will be sorely missed by his mother, Georgia Briggs, his wife, Anne Briggs, his son Jeremy Briggs, his stepdaughter Laura Shepard, many other family and friends, and the countless students and faculty he guided and influenced during his long career at the University of Washington.

A celebration of his life will be held at The University of Washington Club (4020 E. Steven Way) on Sunday, August, 17, from 4 to 7 p.m.; parking on Sundays is available in the Padelford Parking Garage. The family asks that remembrances may be donated to the American Alpine Club or Washington Trails Association.

David Briggs

Interactive Arboretum Map is Now Live!

Tracy Mehlin, information technology librarian for the Elisabeth C. Miller Library, passed along the exciting news that the new Washington Park Arboretum Interactive Map has officially launched!

The project started in August 2012 with a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to survey the Arboretum and digitize paper inventory maps. Now, the online, interactive map identifies landmarks, trails, gardens and every woody plant growing in the Arboretum. It can be browsed or searched, and users can turn layers on and off, measure distances, draw a custom route and print out a custom map.

It’s an incredibly comprehensive resource, with applications for everyone from faculty and students to visitors and researchers around the world, so get in there and start exploring!

Arboretum Interactive Map