Forest Fires and Fireside Chats: Two Weeks in Oregon with Professor Jerry Franklin

Just before the official start of Fall Quarter this past September, 20 students spent two weeks exploring the forests of central and southern Oregon as part of an intensive field course with Professor Jerry Franklin.

Jerry FranklinThe class, “Ecosystem Management” (ESRM 425/SEFS 590), introduces students to the unique management challenges associated with dry, fire-prone forests in the Pacific Northwest. Keala Hagmann, a doctoral student with SEFS and the TA for the course, says they toured forest restoration projects on Bureau of Land Management and O&C Act lands in the Roseburg, Coos Bay and Medford districts; a city watershed in Ashland; private forestland in the Klamath-Siskiyou region; and former Klamath Indian Reservation forests in the Fremont-Winema National Forest. They also visited the sites of the Pole Creek (2012) and B&B (2003) fires in the Deschutes National Forest, as well as the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest within the Willamette National Forest.

At each stop, students met with a diverse spectrum of practitioners, stakeholders and policy makers, including silviculturists, scientists, tree sitters, a county commissioner and environmental advocates. The class got to explore dry forest restoration projects, regeneration harvests to create functional early seral habitat, a prescribed burn, wildfires and long-term ecological research sites. They also enjoyed assisting UW postdoc Derek Churchill and his crew with stem mapping in the Bluejay Springs Research Natural area, camping alongside four rivers, and fireside chats in the evenings (plus a little swimming here and there, not to mention spectacular scenery)!

Dave Herman, a SEFS graduate student on the trip, took hundreds of photos and generously offered to share a selection in the gallery below. It’s hard to grasp just how much the class packed into these two weeks, but this slideshow will at least give you a good taste of their Oregon adventure—as well as some vintage shots of a suspendered Professor Franklin at leisure, holding forth by the fire, leading group discussions and lessons, and generally engaging his audience at every turn!

All photos © Dave Herman.

Dissertation Defense: Camila Tejo Haristoy!

Camila Haristoy

Camila Haristoy

Want to see the forest from a different perspective? Then strap in for some high-flying research as Camila Haristoy defends her dissertation in the Forest Club Room this Monday, June 10, at 10 a.m.!

“Above and Below the Canopy of Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum): Canopy Soils, Litterfall and Decomposition in an Old-Growth Temperate Rainforest”

Epiphytes play critical functional roles in ecosystems by capturing rain, transforming nutrients and providing habitat for canopy-dwelling organisms that are often habitat specialists. Few studies have examined the transfer of epiphytes from the canopy to the forest floor, or how decomposition differs between the canopy and forest floor environment in coastal temperate forest ecosystems.

In her study, Haristoy examined canopy soils, epiphytic litterfall and decomposition of materials associated with bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum) in an old-growth temperate forest at the Queets River watershed, Olympic National Park. An enhanced understanding of the movement of epiphytes can provide ecological insights into processes and dynamics of these complex forest ecosystems, and provide conservation strategies for managers.

Haristoy’s committee is co-chaired by Professor Darlene Zabowski and Nalini Nadkarni, and other members include SEFS Professors Bob Edmonds and Jerry Franklin, along with Marcia Ciol.

Camila Haristoy

Images © Camila Haristoy.

Grad Student Spotlight: John Simeone

Two summers ago in 2011, John Simeone was working on the summer crew at Pack Forest with Professor Greg Ettl. He was a first-year graduate student with the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS), and he spent his daylight hours working on long-term site surveys, trail maintenance and other research projects. Simeone loved it.

“Pack Forest is a beautiful plot of land,” he says, and just about every weekend he’d hop over to Mount Rainier National Park to hike and camp.

That summer also fed another of Simeone’s outdoor passions: photography. He had picked up the hobby pretty seriously in high school, and he eventually even had his own black-and-white dark room. So with endless days deep in the woods, and faced with spectacular forest and mountain settings on all sides, he took scores of photos on his Nikon D60.

© John Simeone

John Simeone’s winning photo entry from Pack Forest, “Stand of Red Alders (Alnus rubra).”

Months later, while researching the new European Union Timber Regulation, Simeone stumbled across a photo contest with the European Forest Institute (EFI). For all of his years snapping pictures, Simeone had never submitted one of his images to a competition. But this time he decided to send one of his shots from Pack Forest. “It was a fluke, totally a whim,” he says.

EFI planned to select one photo to showcase for each month of 2013 as part of their 20th anniversary celebration. And last month, for February, they rewarded Simeone’s whim—and made his month—by featuring his entry: “Stand of Red Alders (Alnus rubra)!”

Photography, of course, is only a side pursuit for Simeone at the University of Washington. He grew up outside of New York City and attended Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., and in 2010 he ventured to Seattle to begin working on a Master’s Degree at the Jackson School of International Studies (Russian Studies). A year later he made it a dual degree by adding forestry at SEFS.

The two fields—forestry and Russian—may seem like an unusual pairing, but for Simeone it’s a rather natural fit.

He first started studying the Russian language in high school, and after graduation he spent a gap year living in the small Russian city of Vladimir, about 115 miles northeast of Moscow. He was only 18 and 19 at the time, and the experience sealed his interest in the country and language. “It was amazing,” he says. “It made me fall in love with Russia.”

Simeone and Knight

Simeone with his fiancé Erika Knight in the North Cascades; a fellow SEFS graduate student, Knight is working on her MS with Professor Rob Harrison in the Forest Soils lab.

During the same time abroad, he began cultivating a deeper interest in forestry and conservation. “Russia contains a quarter of the world’s forests,” says Simeone, and the nation is opening up vast areas of virgin forest for logging—with a host of implications ranging from impacts on sensitive wildlife populations to natural resource management and trade policy.

As a graduate student, Simeone’s research interests now include the emerging markets in forest trade and production in the Russian Far East and Siberia, and the extension of trade to China. His faculty advisor at SEFS is Professor Sergey Rabotyagov, and he is also working closely with Professor Ivan Eastin and CINTRAFOR on Russia’s role in the timber trade. (He presented on some of his research at the Graduate Student Symposium a couple weeks ago on Friday, March 8.)

Simeone has been balancing his economic and trade studies with on-the-ground forestry training, including taking Professor David Ford’s silviculture class, Professor Jerry Franklin’s course on old-growth forest management, and the summer internship at Pack Forest. Though he’s not sure where he’ll end up career-wise, he says his “pie in the sky” dream would be to put his Russian and forestry background to work as a trade analyst with the United Nations, or possibly with the Forest Service in their international division.

In the meantime, he’ll be keeping his camera plenty busy, and you can check out some of his other great photography on his Picasa page!

(Also, Simeone recently co-authored a short photo essay on his summer travels to Vladivostok, Russia, for UW’s Ellison Center Winter 2013 Newsletter. Half of the photos are his, and the other half were taken by Taylor Zajicek’s, who is also working on his MA in Russian Studies.)

Photos courtesy of John Simeone.

SEFS Seminar Series: Week 8 Preview

SEFS Seminar SeriesYou’re in for a real treat this Wednesday with a SEFS Seminar Series doubleheader!

First, from 3 to 4 p.m.—an hour earlier than usual—we’re welcoming Dr. Anna Schoettle, a research plant ecophysiologist with the U.S. Forest Service. She is traveling all the way from the Rocky Mountain Research Station in Colorado to give her talk, “Managing for resilience: Sustaining mountain-top ecosystems in the presence of white pine blister rust,” so don’t miss this special opportunity!

Then, from 4 to 5 p.m., stay glued to your seats for Professor Jerry Franklin, who will follow with his talk, “Chaos in federal forest policy in the Pacific Northwest: The situation and a proposal.”

It’s an exciting line-up, so come to both if you can—and then join us afterward for a reception in the Forest Room from 5 to 6:30 p.m.!

NOTE: There will be no seminar next week on March 6, but the series will resume the following Wednesday, March 13, with Professor Sándor Toth for his talk, “Modeling green‐up constraints in spatial forest planning.”

SEFS Seminar Series: Week 7 Preview

“A sustainable way to keep the Emerald City green, even in the summertime…”

“Letting it all seep in…”

“Every flush you make …”

“Engineers and ecologists—working together…”

Sally Brown

Professor Sally Brown

No matter how you spin it, the next seminar topic is bound to whet your intellectual appetite! So let your curiosity steer you to Anderson 223 this Wednesday, February 20, when Professor Sally Brown presents in Week 7 of the SEFS Seminar Series, “Reintroducing the water cycle in urban areas.”

Also, next week—February 27—is a seminar doubleheader!

First up, from 3 to 4 p.m., Anna Schoettle will be in town to give her talk, “Managing for resilience: Sustaining mountaintop ecosystems in the presence of white pine blister rust.” (She had originally been scheduled for March 13, but a conflict pushed her up a week).

Then, from 4 to 5 p.m., Professor Jerry Franklin will follow with his talk, “Chaos in federal forest policy in PNW: The situation and a proposal.”

Make sure to mark the change on your calendars, and come to both if you can!

The seminars are held in Anderson 223 and 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.

Photo © Sally Brown.

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 sernw20@gmail.com with any questions.

Alumni Spotlight: Jennifer Perkins

Jennifer Perkins

Jennifer Perkins suits up for a lift on the Wind River Canopy Crane.

“What was your favorite class?”

For graduates of the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS), few questions draw a more mischievous smile. It’s no wonder when your courses included tracking wolves in Yellowstone or rock-scrambling through the Cascades.

Yet in addition to the memories (and possibly a few shenanigans), these courses cultivate a variety of skills and passions that often lead to unexpected careers—sometimes even within a few steps of SEFS. For Jennifer Perkins, who graduated in 2011, she found a great opportunity as the program coordinator for the University of Washington Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability Office.

Perkins is a fountain of energy and ideas about sustainability, and she credits much of that enthusiasm to her time at SEFS. “It’s funny, where I’m working now doesn’t directly relate to what I studied,” she says. “But I don’t think I’d be as passionate about sustainability if I didn’t have a background and understanding of ecosystems—how it’s all a big cycle that we need to protect.”

As an environmental science and resource management (ESRM) major, Perkins especially enjoyed the hands-on field trips. “I loved being able to walk around campus or out in the woods and know what I’m looking at when I see different trees and plants.”

Jennifer Perkins

Perkins with her hands full at Yellowstone National Park.

Several professors stand out in her memory, yet Jerry Franklin was her favorite. “He’s very passionate and knowledgeable, and he always made class fun,” she says. “I had several courses with him, and my favorite was when we went to Yellowstone and Glacier national parks for two weeks. In Glacier, a wolf ran across the road in front of us and then stopped, looked back at us and howled. We went back later and measured the paw prints.”

On a different excursion for “Spring Comes to the Cascades,” Perkins recalls a few rough-and-tumble experiences. “My raincoat took a beating in that class,” she says. “My ski pole went through my hood while sliding down a hill in the snow.”

These scrapes hardly discouraged her, and Perkins was happy not to leave her memories at SEFS too far behind at her new job.

Perkins had initially started as a student volunteer at the Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability Office in April 2010, and then after graduation joined the office full-time. In her first year and a half, she’s been able to implement a host of new sustainability projects around campus—and with a growing team of support. “It’s been really cool. When I started there, we had 1.5 full-time staff. We now have 3.5 full-time staff, and anywhere from five to 12 students working with us during any quarter.”

One of the most exciting initiatives they’re working on, she says, is the Green Office Certification program, which rates buildings and departments around the school for how sustainably they’re operating. Criteria include such categories as whether printers are set to double-sided print, or if there’s a compost bin in the kitchen. To participate, offices can fill out the survey online and can get certified at bronze, silver or gold. The program has been under way for about a year now, and recognition includes a certificate and letter, a profile on their website, and promotion in their newsletter and social media (and of course all the benefits of a sustainable office operation!).

The early success of the Green Office Certification program helped sprout a similar concept for laboratories, which Perkins says they hope to launch in January or February 2013.

Another project in the works is creating a sustainability map for campus. Inspired in part by frequent questions about where to find compost bins, the map will additionally highlight recycling outlets, bike-repair stations and bike parking, and a variety of other sustainability resources and facilities—all in one handy location. The plan is to have the map ready in April, first in a digital form, and perhaps later with print options.

At the heart of each of these projects is student involvement, says Perkins. “A lot of our programs give students the opportunity to learn about our campus and get some experience to use in their professional careers.”

Perkins

Field work on the Olympic Peninsula.

Harnessing student power has helped Perkins and her office greatly expand their coverage and connections. “There’s so much sustainability work going on here,” she says, “but there hasn’t been a centralized place to find information. That’s the role our office trying to fill.”

And if you are looking to get involved, Perkins says the best first step is to come in and talk to their team and learn about what’s already going on around the university, and where there might be good opportunities waiting for willing hands. “If we can’t get you started doing something in our office, we can probably connect you with the right resources on campus.”

You can also visit their newly redesigned website, which is loaded with useful resources and links. Check out the Campus Sustainability Fund, which is run by students—and for students—to support and encourage a variety of sustainability activities, from building green walls to screening environmental films. Browse the “Sustainability Snapshots” to learn about more interesting projects going on around the school (or submit your own for others to read about and emulate). Or sign up to follow their office on Facebook or Twitter and see different departments and fun facts highlighted each week.

Options abound, so learn more and get involved today!

Photos © Jennifer Perkins.

SEFS Seminar Series: Speakers & Topics Announced

Seminar SeriesStarting on January 9, 2013, Director Tom DeLuca will kick off the SEFS Seminar Series (SEFS 550F) for the Winter Quarter with an introduction and the first topic, “Nitrogen dynamics in boreal ecosystems.” Check out the rest of the schedule below, and mark your calendars today!

The seminars, held in Anderson 223 on Wednesdays from 4 to 5 p.m., are open to all faculty, staff and students. Each week, a reception will follow in the Forest Room from 5 to 6:30 p.m. (Graduate students can receive course credit for attending 9 of 10 seminars by registering for SEFS 550F, SLN 20703. Please email sefsadv@uw.edu if you have any trouble registering.)

Seminar Schedule

1/9/2013
Introduction to SEFS Graduate Seminar Series: Nitrogen dynamics in boreal ecosystems
Tom DeLuca

1/16/2013
The really hidden half of the hidden half: The role of deep soil in forest ecocystem processes
Robert Harrison

1/23/2013
Suffer the Buffers: Population Growth and Resource Degradation in Pre-Modern China
Stevan Harrell

1/30/2013
Cost-effective subwatershed targeting of agricultural conservation practices to address Gulf of Mexico hypoxia
Sergey Rabotyagov

2/6/2013
Environmental stewardship, social equity and corporate profitability: Siblings or strangers?
Dorothy Paun

2/13/2013
How can we improve the production of fuels and chemicals from lignocellulosic biomass?
Renata Bura

2/20/2013
Reintroducing the water cycle in urban areas
Sally Brown

2/27/2013 (Doubleheader)
3 p.m.: Managing for resilience: Sustaining mountaintop ecosystems in the presence of white pine blister rust
Anna Schoettle

4 p.m.:  Chaos in federal forest policy in PNW: The situation and a proposal
Jerry Franklin

3/6/2013
No seminar scheduled.

3/13/2013
Modeling greenup constraints in spatial forest planning
Sándor Toth

3/20/2013
TBD