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.

Going Rogue in Oregon

Rouge River

Sunlight filtering through the trees and canyons on the way back to the crew’s BLM house on the Rogue River. “It was the perfect end to every day working underneath the Douglas-firs,” says Putz.

This past summer, a five-person crew from the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS) set out to conduct research along the Rogue River in Oregon. Working as part of Professor Monika Moskal’s Remote Sensing and Geospatial Analysis Laboratory, the students collected data of red tree vole habitat for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from May to September.

Their research proposed to answer several questions, including whether survey grade GPS can be used to accurately acquire individual tree location from LiDAR data (light detection and ranging), and whether ground-based inventory and leaf area measurements can be used to drive LiDAR-based empirical habitat models for the Rouge River site. The project will ultimately help the BLM develop a method of analyzing LiDAR data for forest inventory and management.

“Spending the summer in the Rogue River Valley working with amazing people and learning useful techniques taught me the importance of fieldwork, our forests and the animals that inhabit them,” says Tessa Putz, an undergraduate ESRM major with the SEFS crew.

“Working for BLM this summer was a great experience,” says PhD candidate Gonzalo Thienel, another member of the SEFS team. “I learned many things about nature, remote sensing and teamwork.”

Not bad for a field site!

Photo of the Rogue River © Tessa Putz/SEFS.