UW Botanic Gardens Announces 2019 Urban Natural Areas Seminar

The University of Washington Botanic Gardens is pleased to announce the 2019 Urban Natural Areas Seminar.

The seminar, “Stewardship Required: The Power of Interdisciplinary Collaboration for Long-Term Function of Urban Areas,” will be held 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Jan. 30-31 2019 at the Center for Urban Horticulture, NHS Hall, 3501 NE 41st St., Seattle, WA 98105.

The seminar is $95 for one day or $175 for the full event. Discounts available for students and corps members. See website for details.

Program information and registration available here.

Most people expect established natural area landscapes to be low maintenance. That concept comes back to haunt us when the realities of invasive weeds, aggressive native species, and plant encroachments demand immediate attention. As the fox said in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, “You become responsible forever for what you have tamed.” And so, for all the urban natural area plantings we create: stewardship is required.

Taken out of the context of wilderness areas, urban natural areas demand attention to the details of plant selection, site design, and maintenance standards to keep them functioning well. The significant costs of deferred maintenance that have been documented for urban trees and landscapes apply equally to urban natural areas. With proactive and timely collaboration between researchers, city planners, site managers, landscape designers and engineers, field crews, volunteer stewards, and others, we have the power to improve and protect this valuable environmental resource in our communities. Join us for this rare opportunity to exchange information across the mix of professions responsible for creating and maintaining urban natural areas.

Professional credits pending: APLD, CPH, ecoPRO, ISA, LA CES, NALP/WALP.

SEFS Researchers Contribute to Fourth National Climate Assessment

Two researchers at the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences contributed to a chapter in the new volume of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, an assessment of climate change across the nation produced every four years by the federal government.

Professor David Peterson was one of two coordinating lead authors, and research scientist Jessica Halofsky was a technical contributor. Both contributed to a chapter in the assessment on forests. The chapter looked at how extreme weather, including droughts, will make wildfires more frequent and intense nationally and in specific regions of the U.S. It also describes how climate change will affect other ecological disturbances, such as insects. The authors find that many options exist to reduce the largely negative effects of climate change, and list how federal agencies and other entities are already implementing adaptation measures across the United States.

In addition, former SEFS student, Gabrielle Roesch-McNally, who now works for the U.S. Forest Service, also contributed to the assessment.

Read more about the assessment and the other UW researchers who were involved in its creation.

Holiday Papermaking Rolling Off the Presses Nov. 28

This Wednesday, the UW Student Technical Association of Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI) organization will be printing their annual holiday paper. The paper will roll off the presses between 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. in the Wollenberg Paper and Bioresource Lab.

This year’s paper will be made from bleached softwood pulp. Red and green dye will make the paper festive and rayon fibers will give it a bit of texture. Once printed, the paper will be cut into cards and sold as a fundraiser for TAPPI. For more information on this fundraiser and how to purchase some holiday paper, contact tappi@uw.edu.

SEFS Holiday Tree Sale

Winter is coming, and that means it’s time for the annual SEFS Holiday Tree Fundraiser! Due to some club reorganizations, we got a bit of a late start this year, we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause with the shortened ordering window. Like last year, the sale is being run by a number of UW School of Environmental and Forest science clubs, and all proceeds will go to helping these clubs function throughout the year.

Your $45 donation will get you a beautiful five to seven-foot Noble Fir holiday tree from Hunter Farms, cut and sold by the SEFS Students. Our trees are handpicked and unique, and will come in all shapes and sizes. Some will be over seven feet and some will be less than 5 feet. If you are looking for a specific type of tree we recommend coming early to make sure you have a variety of trees to choose from!

If you would like a tree under five feet tall or over seven feet tall, please email your request to: uwforestclub@gmail.com

To preorder your tree, simply visit our website to place an order online. Due to the late start this year, we are moving away from paper order forms. However, if you would still like to order a tree this way, please email uwforestclub@gmail.com for more information. All orders must be submitted by Thursday, Nov. 29.

The trees will be cut on Saturday Dec. 1 and available for pick-up at the UW Center for Urban Horticulture outside the Douglas Research Conservatory on Sunday Dec. 2 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Please Note: Your $45 donation is non-refundable. This sale is organized and run entirely by student volunteers, all proceeds go towards funding SEFS student club events and are highly appreciated.

We look forward to seeing you on Sunday, Dec.2!

Common allergen, ragweed, will shift northward under climate change

Common ragweed, Ambrosia artemisiifolia, is common in North America and is spreading in Europe. The plant releases a fine pollen in late summer and fall that causes allergy symptoms in people with hay fever.Andreas Rockstein/Flickr

New research from the University of Washington and the University of Massachusetts – Amherst looks at how the most common cause of sneezing and sniffling in North America is likely to shift under climate change.

A recent study published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE finds that common ragweed will expand its range northward as the climate warms, reaching places including New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, while retreating from some current hot spots.

“It was surprising that nobody had looked at ragweed distributions in the U.S.: As climate conditions are changing, where will it spread to in the future?” said corresponding author Michael Case, who did the work as a postdoctoral researcher in the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences.

Ragweed is a native North American plant that thrives in open areas, moving quickly into disturbed areas. It produces copious fine-powder pollen from August to November, causing sneezing, runny noses, irritated eyes, itchy throats and headaches for people with hay fever.

Several studies of ragweed’s future geographic distribution have been done in Europe, where people are concerned because this invasive species is expanding its range. This is the first study to consider future ragweed distribution in the United States.

Case’s previous research looks at how climate change may influence the distribution of various species, mainly native trees in the Pacific Northwest. Co-lead author Kristina Stinson, an assistant professor of plant ecology at UMass Amherst, is an expert on ragweed, including mapping allergy hot spots in New England.

“One reason we chose to study ragweed is because of its human health implications. Ragweed pollen is the primary allergen culprit for hay fever symptoms in summer and fall in North America, so it affects a lot of people,” Stinson said.

For the new study, the two authors built a machine learning model using Maxent software that takes some 726 observations of common ragweed in the eastern U.S., drawn from an international biodiversity database, then combines those with climate information to identify conditions that allow the plant to thrive. Researchers next ran the model into the future using temperature and precipitation output from 13 global climate models under two different pathways for future greenhouse gas emissions.

Read the rest of the story at UW News.

Racial, ethnic minorities face greater vulnerability to wildfires

Environmental disasters in the U.S. often hit minority groups the hardest.

When Hurricane Katrina slammed New Orleans in 2005, the city’s black residents were disproportionately affected. Their neighborhoods were located in the low-lying, less-protected areas of the city, and many people lacked the resources to evacuate safely. Similar patterns have played out during hurricanes and tropical storms ever since.

Massive wildfires, which may be getting more intense due to climate change and a long history of fire-suppression policies, also have strikingly unequal effects on minority communities, a new study shows.

Researchers at the University of Washington and The Nature Conservancy used census data to develop a “vulnerability index” to assess wildfire risk in communities across the U.S. Their results, appearing Nov. 2 in the journal PLOS ONE, show that racial and ethnic minorities face greater vulnerability to wildfires compared with primarily white communities. In particular, Native Americans are six times more likely than other groups to live in areas most prone to wildfires.

“A general perception is that communities most affected by wildfires are affluent people living in rural and suburban communities near forested areas,” said lead author Ian Davies, a graduate student in the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences. “But there are actually millions of people who live in areas that have a high wildfire potential and are very poor, or don’t have access to vehicles or other resources, which makes it difficult to adapt or recover from a wildfire disaster.”

This study is one of the first to integrate both the physical risk of wildfire with the social and economic resilience of communities to see which areas across the country are most vulnerable to large wildfires. The approach takes 13 socioeconomic measures from the U.S. census — including income, housing type, English fluency and health — for more than 71,000 census tracts across the country and overlays them with wildfire potential based on weather, historical fire activity and burnable fuels on the landscape.

Read the rest of the story at the UW News.