Miller Library Book Sale: April 4 and 5!

Coming up the first weekend of April is the annual Elisabeth C. Miller Library Garden Lovers’ Book Sale. It’s the biggest event of the year and an important fundraiser for the library—not to mention a great time—so mark your calendars and come join the fun!

Miller Library Book SaleThe festivities kick off on Friday, April 4, with a Wine and Cheese Preview Party from 5 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $20, there’s a silent auction of especially interesting books, and you’ll find plenty of appetizers (enough to make a meal for most people). The following day, Saturday, April 5, the book sale runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. It’s free and open to the public, and all sales go to benefit the Miller Library.

So head over and support the Miller Library, and take part in a wonderful tradition at our school!

Want to chip in?
The library is still collecting book donations! Specifically, they’re looking for new or gently used books that are plant-related, such as about botany, landscape design, horticulture, landscape restoration, etc. Books can be brought to the library, located within the Center for Urban Horticulture, anytime during open hours right up until the day of the sale (Mondays, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.).

To purchase party tickets or for more information about making a book donation, contact Martha Ferguson or call the Miller Library at 206.543.0415.

WSSAF to Hold Annual Meeting at Pack Forest

The 2014 annual meeting of the Washington State Society of American Foresters (WSSAF) will be held May 7-9 at Pack Forest.

WSSAF Annual MeetingThis year’s theme is “Education and Research,” and the agenda is structured to reduce “seat-time” for participants. Attendees will get the opportunity to pick and choose among concurrent indoor sessions and field trips held throughout Pack Forest and the surrounding area.

Topics are wide-ranging, covering everything from biosolids and forest fertilization to silviculture and salmon habitation restoration. SEFS will have a strong representation, including sessions with Professors Greg Ettl, Rob Harrison and Sandor Toth, as well as with Dave Cass, Nicolas Dankers and Zareen Khan.

Registration materials, as well as detailed information on lodging and the meeting agenda, will be mailed to members and available online in the next month. And if you have any questions about the meeting, contact WSSAF at

SEFS Alumni Group: Get Involved!

Coming up on Tuesday, February 25, the SEFS Alumni Group will be holding a meeting from noon to 1 p.m. in Anderson 22. The main topic of the meeting will be planning for the annual Spring Gathering on April 27, but other agenda items include leadership transitions, the revamped alumni newsletter, Roots (which will go out this Thursday), the Distinguished Alumni Seminar, student mentorship opportunities, and other ongoing projects. If you have updates you would like to share, or if you’d like to attend or call in from the field, email Alumni Group Chair Jessica Farmer!

Methow Valley

This past fall, Professor Emeritus Tom Hinckley led an alumni hike in the Methow Valley–one of dozens of ways you can get involved with fellow alumni!

The invitation to participate goes well beyond this meeting, too. The most successful alumni group, says Farmer, will include representatives of many ages and interest areas, and they’re looking for new members to join in planning social events, developing mentoring opportunities, and providing feedback and support to the school.

Ideally, alumni group members must be willing to commit to the following requirements:

•         Attend the Annual Board meeting and two additional semi-annual meetings;
•         Attend the Annual Spring Gathering;
•         Invite 10-plus people to attend the Annual Spring Gathering, or serve on the planning committee or help underwrite the event ($200+);
•         Maintain your UW Alumni Association membership;
•         Make an annual contribution to SEFS (100% participation, no minimum);
•         Commit to a 2-year term;
•         Enhance the reputation of the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, the College of the Environment, and the University of Washington.

If you’d like to be an active member of the Alumni Group, please email us at, and we hope to connect with you soon!

Photo © SEFS.

Olympic Touch: Paul Mathews

If you’ve been watching any of the 2014 Winter Olympics—and especially if you’ve caught some of the downhill skiing and snowboarding events—then you’ve almost certainly seen some of the vision and handiwork of Paul Mathews, who earned a bachelor’s in forest resources from the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences back in 1974 (and also studied landscape architecture at UW for two years).

Paul Mathews

We caught up with Mathews, pictured here in Moscow, briefly over email last week. He’s been on a “dead run” in Europe since February 7, he says, and was most recently in Davos in the Swiss Alps.

As a student, Mathews worked with Professors Gordon Bradley and Grant Sharp and took classes with Barney Dowdle and David Scott. In particular, he was involved in a senior case study class, directed by Bradley, where he explored the feasibility of developing a ski area near Stevens Pass. That site never got developed, but Mathews was fine-tuning a talent and passion that he carries to this day: spotting and designing the perfect locations for ski areas. More importantly, though, he envisioned ski areas that would operate sustainably, were more efficient with their layout, and didn’t abuse their mountain landscapes.

In fact, shortly after finishing school, Mathews founded his own company, Ecosign Mountain Resort Planners, with the purpose of providing environmentally sensitive planning and design for mountain resorts and ski areas. Among his many accolades, Mathews is known for having an uncanny eye for locating lifts and pistes, and his designs focus on avoiding stairs—the ultimate nemesis of ski boots—and keeping most accommodations and services within close proximity to the slopes (ditching your car after you arrive, and spending the rest of the time on skis or on foot). Since he set up operation in 1975 in Whistler, British Columbia, his team has directed the planning and design of more than 360 major mountain resort projects in 36 countries.

Rosa Khutor Alpine Ski Resort

View of the Rosa Khutor Alpine Ski Resort outside of Sochi.

One of those projects, as it happens, was the Rosa Khutor Alpine Ski Resort outside of Sochi, Russia, and the current host site of the Winter Olympics. Back in 2000, the Russian government had invited Mathews to explore the possibility of increasing winter tourism and creating an Olympic-quality ski resort in the Caucasus Mountains. While flying over the area in a plane, Mathews had spied the winning site and then helped design the mountain. Fourteen years later, the top winter athletes in the world are competing on those slopes.

If you’d like to learn more about Mathews and his design philosophy, he’s been profiled a few times recently, including great features in the Seattle Times and The Wall Street Journal. You can also tune in to watch some of the remaining ski coverage to get a firsthand look at the fruits of his work. Then again, there’s a good chance you’ve already visited or heard of a number of his other projects, including Whistler Blackcomb and Sun Peaks in Canada, or a redesign of Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah, a few years ago!

(Side note: The SEFS ski connections don’t end with Mathews. Another alumnus, Steve Rice, now works with a real estate investment trust that manages many of the major ski areas in the country. Rice, who was also one of Professor Bradley’s former students, happens to be friends with Mathews, too!)

Photo of Mathews in Moscow © Paul Mathews; photo of ski resort © Sochi 2014.

Alumni Spotlight: Cassie Gamm

Last week, we caught up with SEFS alumna Cassie Gamm, who graduated as an ESRM major in 2012 and is now in her first year as a master’s student at the University of Alaska Anchorage. She had taken a year off school to research graduate programs, including options in Montana and Colorado, but she had always wanted to live in Alaska. So when she found an exciting opportunity to work with Professor Patrick Sullivan and study ecosystem CO2 exchange in the Arctic—a position fully funded by the National Science Foundation—she jumped at the chance.

Gamm, who grew up near Snohomish, Wash., drove up to Anchorage this past August and spent the fall taking classes. She had never been to Alaska before, and she’s loved exploring the trails that snake throughout the city, as well as the proximity to the mountains.

Cassie Gamm

Cassie Gamm motors back to her field site in Greenland.

At the university, working with the Sullivan Lab in the Environment and Natural Resources Institute, Gamm’s current research focuses on the dynamics of plant respiration in three dominant Arctic species in Southwest Greenland.

In the context of climate change, in particular, she’s investigating how warming temperatures and longer summer growing seasons will impact the ecosystem. Will increased leafy area with expanding shrub growth lead to more photosynthesis, making the region a carbon sink? Or will the thawing permafrost release more carbon than the new greenery will store? Great questions, and they’ve launched her down a new and challenging scientific path.

“Going to UW and the forestry school, we focused on big trees and studying ecosystems on a landscape scale,” says Gamm. “Coming up here to the Arctic, I’m now studying ecology more on a molecular level with respiration and photosynthesis. It’s been a big learning curve, but it’s also been really interesting to study a whole new ecosystem!”

In the Field
As for that new ecosystem, Gamm already completed her first field season in Greenland last summer. The field camp, made up of 8 to 12 researchers in tents, is about a mile from the Greenland ice sheet, and about 20 miles from the nearest town. There’s no running water, and they use water from a nearby lake for drinking and dish washing. The team shares a car to drive into town about once a week to access the Internet, take showers and buy any food they can find. Most of what they eat—lots of pasta and oatmeal, for instance—gets prepped and mailed out in boxes beforehand. And there’s not much locally in the way of fresh produce—maybe a potato or onion every once in a while—so cravings for fruits and veggies can get overwhelming.

“Oh man, it takes a toll on your body,” she says. “We’d talk about making gigantic salads all the time!”

Still, despite the stresses and privations of remote field work on the tundra, Gamm has taken to the research with gusto. “I’d never been to Alaska, let alone the Arctic,” she says, “and it’s awesome!”

Cassie Gamm

Here’s one way you’ll know you’ve arrived in the Arctic: signs alerting you to musk ox!

In fact, in case the Greenland experience sounds equally intriguing to you, Gamm is currently looking for a field assistant to join her out there this coming summer for roughly two months from late May to late August. You have until March 1 to apply, and there are quite a few perks, from the incredible hands-on research experience to getting to live in and explore a stunning Arctic ecosystem. That said, Gamm doesn’t soft-pedal the field conditions and expectations, so make sure to read the official posting and description below as carefully—and honestly—as possible before applying!

Ecosystem Ecology Field Assistant, Southwest Greenland
A field research assistant position is available for the summer of 2014 in Southwest Greenland. The field assistant will be working on a project funded by the National Science Foundation to study the differential responses of grasses and shrubs (i.e. cycling of carbon and nitrogen) to a changing climate. The project is a collaborative effort between the University of Alaska Anchorage (Sullivan Lab) and Penn State University (Post and Eissenstat Labs). I am seeking a motivated and enthusiastic student with previous field experience. The research assistant will work one-on-one with me on my project examining both above and belowground carbon fluxes in grasses and shrubs. Duties will include taking accurate baseline measurements such as soil moisture and soil temperature, processing plant samples, data entry and operation of a Picarro isotopic gas analyzer. Experience with gas analysis is not required, but willingness to learn and troubleshoot technical issues is preferred. The field season will run from late May through late August. The fieldwork is based out of a tent camp about 20 miles from Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. Visits to town, which offers a wide range of amenities, will be made approximately once per week. Due to the remoteness of the tent camp, extensive camping experience and willingness to endure periods of poor weather is required. We are particularly interested in hiring college juniors or seniors who may be interested in pursuing graduate research in Arctic or Boreal ecology.

Travel from upstate New York to Kanger via the Air National Guard will be covered, as well as basic camping gear such as a tent and sleeping pad. The summer will be spent camping with a small group of researchers at a scenic site on the tundra about one mile from the ice sheet. Applicants should be physically fit and willing to learn and work as a team. A weekly stipend will be provided and compensation is dependent on experience level.

Please email a resume and cover letter to Cassie Gamm ( Review of applications will begin March 1 and will continue until the position has been filled.

Photos © Cassie Gamm.

Cassie Gamm

Help Create Land Art Installation in Issaquah!

Black Forest (29,930,000 tons) is a large-scale land art installation slated for construction during February 2014 at Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park in Issaquah, Wash. King County is helping the artist recruit volunteers to assist in the construction of the project during the course of three days, from Friday, February 21, to Sunday, February 23!

Black Forest

Hans Baumann tours the project site.

About the Project
During the winter of 2013-2014, Swiss-American artist Hans Baumann will create an art installation at Cougar Mountain Wildland Park outside of Seattle. From 1863 to 1963, this park was the site of intensive coal mining and logging, and it is estimated that some 29,930,000 tons of CO2 were emitted into the atmosphere as a result of these activities. Black Forest will reimagine the park as a site for carbon sequestration through the construction of a large-scale land art installation. The project entails covering a carefully selected site in the forest with bio-carbon—an environmentally benign charcoal that is uncannily similar in appearance to the coal that was once mined here and still litters the forest floor in some places.

Approximately 45,000 pounds of bio-carbon will be applied to a site nearly one acre in size. Due to the scale of the installation, volunteers are needed to realize the project. These collaborators will have the opportunity to engage with the artist, contribute to the creative process, and create a public art piece.

As members of the project team, volunteers will have a significant hand in creating this large, site-specific “sculpture.” To assemble the piece, team members will carry bags of bio-carbon and spread them with a gentle hand across the ground. Areas to be covered in char will be clearly demarcated, but volunteers will take in active role in determining how the bio-carbon is applied to the specific areas of the site in which they will be working.

The project will be assembled over the course of three days. Volunteers can sign up for one of two shifts of work per day: 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., or 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.; each shift will be limited to eight volunteers.

Volunteers are asked to be of adequate physical fitness and comfortable with working outdoors. Tools, rain gear and refreshments will be provided. Prior to working, all volunteers and their visitors will be required to sign a waiver form. Although not required, it would be ideal if volunteers were able to be available for more than one day. The installation site and staging area are directly accessible by vehicle, and every effort will be made to make the experience an enjoyable one.

Learn more about the project and check out the Facebook page. And if you’d like to volunteer, contact Laurie Clinton at or call 206.296.4452.

Photo ©

Charles Lathrop Pack Essay Competition

In 1923, Charles Lathrop Pack had the foresight to establish an essay competition so that students in the College of Forest Resources would “express themselves to the public and write about forestry in a way that affects or interests the public.” His original mandate continues today at SEFS—as does the unwavering value of good written communication—and we are pleased to announce the 2014 edition of the Charles Lathrop Pack Essay Competition!

Charles Lathrop Pack

Charles Lathrop Pack

The prize for top essays is $500, and this year’s prompt addresses biofuels:

There are great hopes of converting woody biomass into liquid transportation fuels. What are the likely economic, social and ecological ramifications of pursuing a wood-to-liquid fuel strategy in the Pacific Northwest?

Entries are due by Tuesday, April 1, 2014. If you have any questions about the competition, or if you’d like to see if your essay idea sounds promising and appropriate, email Professor Greg Ettl. Otherwise, review the rest of the guidelines below, and get busy thinking and typing!

Essay Criteria
In responding to the prompt, you must justify your answer from a political, ecological and economic point of view. You are expected to provide a technical perspective, addressing a diverse and educated audience that needs further knowledge of natural resource issues. Writers are expected to clearly state the problem or issue to be addressed at the beginning of the essay, and should emphasize a strong public communications element. Course papers substantially restructured to meet these guidelines are acceptable; however, no group entries are permitted. References and quotes are acceptable only when sources are clearly indicated; direct quotes should be used sparingly.

Entries should be typed, double-spaced (one side of paper only), and may not exceed 2,000 words. Include a cover page with student name and title of the essay, then print your submission and deliver to Student and Academic Services in AND 116/130 no later than April 1, 2014.

The competition is open to juniors, seniors and graduate students enrolled in SEFS during Spring Quarter 2014 who have not yet received a graduate-level degree from any institution. Undergraduate and graduate essays will be judged in separate categories.

A Judging Committee will be selected to assess originality, organization, mastery of subject, objectivity, clarity, forcefulness of writing, literary merit and conciseness. The Committee will reserve the right to withhold the prize if no entry meets acceptable standards. The Committee may also award more than one prize for outstanding entries if funds permit. Winning papers will be posted on the Center for Sustainable Forestry at Pack Forest website, and might also be featured on the SEFS blog, “Offshoots,” and in the School’s e-newsletter, The Straight Grain.

Charles Lathrop Pack © SEFS.

Bloedel Power Outage: Tuesday, Feb. 11, 6-10 p.m.

In case you haven’t heard, the University of Washington has requested a planned power shutdown in Bloedel Hall this coming Tuesday, February 11. The outage, which will last approximately four hours from 6 to 10 p.m., is required in order to perform work on a power panel in the basement of Bloedel Hall.

During the shutdown, primary power to Bloedel Hall will be turned off. No other buildings will lose power, but all services provided out of the Bloedel Hall Server Room will be unavailable, which may also affect you if you plan to work on campus, or from home or other remote locations and access server room resources.

If you have any questions, please email or call 206.616.7365. Thank you for your patience and understanding!

What to Do in Advance of the Shutdown
If you have an office, lab or work station in Bloedel Hall, please make sure to shut down all computer and sensitive equipment before 6 p.m. Equipment that is not attached to a quality surge protection device should be unplugged. Staff will be assigned to power down the Xerox copiers. A generator will be provided to keep critical equipment running in the server room, but there will be no network connectivity during the outages.

Web Services Affected
All computer services provided out of the Bloedel Hall Server Room will be unavailable. That includes, but is not limited to:

•         Many of our websites, including
•         Authentication to the CFR domain
•         Access to file resources such as “S:”, “Main”, “Users”, “Faculty”, etc.
•         Access to network printing, including the copiers in Anderson, Bloedel, Winkenwerder and Merrill Halls.
•         Access to remote desktop environments such as Gibson and PineCone.
•         Event Management System (EMS)

Unaffected Websites
The SEFS Net­work Out­age blog at:
The SEFS Off­shoots blog at:
The SEFS Stu­dent and Aca­d­e­mic Ser­vices blog at:
The SEFS Face­book page at:
The Col­lege of the Envi­ron­ment web­site at:
The Col­lege of the Envi­ron­ment Face­book page at:
The Olympic Nat­ural Resources Cen­ter Face­book page at:
The Cen­ter for Sus­tain­able Forestry at Pack For­est Face­book page at:
The Insti­tute of For­est Resources web­site at:
The Advanced Hard­wood Bio­fu­els web­site at:
The Cen­ter for Quan­ti­ta­tive Sci­ence web­site at:
The UW Botanic Gar­dens web­site at:
The UW Botanic Gar­dens Face­book page at:  The Restora­tion Ecol­ogy Net­work web­site at:
The USGS Cas­ca­dia Field Sta­tion web page at:
The Wind River Field Sta­tion web page at:
The Bio­fu­els and Bio­prod­ucts Lab web­site at:
The Canopy Dynam­ics Lab web­site at:
The Land­scape Ecol­ogy and Con­ser­va­tion Lab web­site at:
The Plant Micro­bi­ol­ogy Lab web­site at:
The Remote Sens­ing and Geospa­tial Analy­sis Lab web­site at:
The Wild­land Fire Sci­ences Lab web­site at:
The Human Dimen­sions of Urban Forestry web­site at:
The UWBG Rare Plant Care and Con­ser­va­tion web­site at:

Students: Pack Forest Beckons You!

Coming up this spring and summer, SEFS graduate and undergraduate students have a chance to take part in two hallowed traditions down at Pack Forest: the annual spring planting (March 23-27), and the two-month summer crew (June 23 to August 22)!

Check out the two opportunities and application deadlines below; you can apply to either one, or even try for both:

Spring Planting: Why Veg When You Can Plant?
For more than 75 years, students have been putting down roots at Pack Forest, helping to shape it for future generations. This Spring Break, you can leave your own mark by taking part in the annual spring planting, March 23-27!

While staying at Pack Forest, you’ll roll up your sleeves and work on forest establishment, including planting, regeneration surveys and survey reports. Your housing (and some food) will be covered, there’s a kitchen at your disposal, and you’ll even earn a $200 stipend. Two course credits are available, as well.

Contact Professor Greg Ettl to learn more and apply. Preference is given to those who apply before Monday, February 24, so act fast!

Tara Wilson

Tara Wilson, a senior ESRM major, gets into the swing of things as part of the Pack Forest Summer Crew in 2012.

Pack Forest Summer Crew
Every summer, several SEFS students head down to Pack Forest for two months of hands-on field training in forest management. As an intern on the summer crew, your weekends are generally free, so you can venture to a number of local attractions, including nearby Mount Rainier. On top of that, you’ll receive 5 ESRM credit hours to go with a $200 weekly stipend and free housing!

For the 2014 Summer Quarter, which runs from June 23 to August 22, there are five ESRM internship positions available.

Four spots are open for Forest Resource Interns, who will assist with the management and stewardship of Pack Forest’s timber resources, research installations, roads and trails. These students will develop forest mensuration skills, practice species identification, participate in research programs, and learn about sustainable forest management.

One additional position is available for an Outreach & Education Intern, who will actively participate in public outreach, environmental education and natural resource management. This student will develop skills in communications, public outreach and curriculum development, as well as gain exposure to natural resource management.

The deadline to apply is April 9. If you’re interested, send your resume and a cover letter describing how the internship will fit into your program of study to Professor Ettl.

Photo © Tara Wilson.

Tree Lovers Wanted!

Katie Gibbons, a SEFS graduate student who is currently interning with the city of Seattle’s reLeaf program, reached out to us this week to share a tremendous opportunity for students to help nurture Seattle’s urban trees through the Tree Ambassador program!

Tree AmbassadorsA collaboration between the city of Seattle and Forterra, the Tree Ambassador program trains volunteers within certain project areas, such as leading tree walks or caring for street trees. Tree Ambassadors also have the opportunity to attend a variety of fun and informative workshops on topics like pruning, tree identification and community engagement, and they can take part in other unique experiences like learning to climb trees with professional rigging, or touring local botanic treasures.

Seattle reLeaf—which you might recall is managed by SEFS alumna Jana Dilley—is currently recruiting new Tree Ambassadors in three project areas:

  1. Tree Walks: Show off your favorite trees in your favorite part of Seattle. You’ll learn the basics of making maps, identifying trees and creating walking routes to
    engage your neighbors and coworkers in the urban landscape. Check out the tree walks current Tree Ambassadors have created!
    Next training: Wednesday, March 12, and Saturday, March 15 (you must attend both)
  2. Landscape Renewal: Does seeing a tree choked by ivy drive you crazy? If so, this project track is for you. You’ll learn how to plan and organize small-scale renovation projects, including removing invasive plants, planting trees and understory plants, and mulching. You’ll learn how to develop a plan, recruit volunteers and lead work parties.
    Next trainingWednesday, April 2, and Saturday, April 5 (you must attend both)
  3. Street Tree Stewardship: Never fear, young street trees, the Tree Ambassadors are here! Volunteers in this project area adopt street tree plantings and help the city’s young street trees thrive. Tree Ambassadors learn to plan work parties and recruit volunteers to mulch, weed and care for the trees that are essential to making Seattle’s neighborhoods walkable, sustainable, beautiful and healthy.
    Next training: May 17

No previous tree experience is necessary for any of these project areas, and all volunteers who complete project training get a free t-shirt and name tag. If you are interested in learning more or applying to become a Tree Ambassador, please visit the program website or email Gibbons with any questions!

Photos © Seattle reLeaf.

Tree Ambassadors