Posted on December 18, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Forest Service scientists study aftermath of Rim Fire to assess effectiveness of forest health treatments
A NASA Earth Observatory image shows smoke plumes from the Rim Fire in August, 2013. NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response.
FRISCO — A detailed new study of fire behavior of the 2013 Rim Fire in Yosemite provides a nuanced view of the effectiveness of forest health treatments.
The Rim Fire was the largest recorded fire in the Sierra Nevada region, and U.S. Forest Service researchers said in their study that the fire burned with moderate to high intensity on days the Rim Fire was dominated by a large pyro-convective plume, a powerful column of smoke, gases, ash, and other debris — regardless of the number of prior fires, topography, or forest conditions. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, forest fires, Forest health, forests, US Forest Service | Tagged: extreme weather, Forest health, Rim Fire, U.S. Forest Service, Wildfires | Leave a comment »
Posted on December 15, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Can mushrooms help save whitebark pines? Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.
Scientists report success in treating seedlings with mushroom spores
FRISCO — High-elevation whitebark pines are under the gun in the northern Rockies. White pine blister rust, an invasive fungus, and pine beetles have combined to drive the species toward extinction.
But scientists trying to recover the species say that a humble mushroom could help their efforts. A three-year experiment shows a 10 to 15 percent increase in the survival rate of whitebark pine seedlings when Siberian slippery jack spores are injected into the soil around them. The injection takes place in nurseries before the seedlings are transplanted in the mountains. Continue reading
Filed under: endangered species, Environment, Forest health, forests, Uncategorized | Tagged: Environment, Forest health, forests, fungi, pine beetles, whitebark pines | Leave a comment »
Posted on December 3, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Findings challenge carbon-balance assumptions of woody biomass energy boosters
A forest health logging site on Swan Mountain near Dillon, Colorado. bberwyn photo.
FRISCO — Logging forests may have a more significant impact on carbon storage in soils than previously believed, Dartmouth College researchers found after taking a close look at at how timber harvesting affects mineral soil carbon over 100 years.
The study found that, while logging doesn’t immediately release carbon stored in a forest’s mineral soils into the atmosphere, it triggers a gradual release that may contribute to climate change over decades. Continue reading
Filed under: agriculture, climate and weather, Environment, Forest health, forests, global warming, US Forest Service | Tagged: carbon cycle, Environment, Forest health, forests, global warming, logging, soil carbon storage | 2 Comments »
Posted on November 18, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
What now, forests?
Panel features White River NF chief Scott Fitzwilliams and Colorado State Forest Service director Mike Lester
FRISCO — A lot of seedlings have sprouted since Summit County experienced the biggest pine beetle outbreak that anyone can remember, and the debate over the future of Colorado’s forests is very much alive — how much of the forest can we manage, and how can we make sure that will help forests in the long run?
With the goal of creating more resilient and diverse forests, one aspect of the discussion centers on differences between active and passive management. This week, the Summit County Forest Health Task Force will host a panel discussion on forest management (Nov. 20, 6-8 p.m. at the Summit County Community & Senior Center, County Commons). Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, Forest health, forests, Summit County Colorado, US Forest Service, White River National Forest | Tagged: active forest management, Colorado, Forest health, Forest Service, White River National Forest | Leave a comment »
Posted on November 4, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Spruce beetle populations are surging in the southern Rocky Mountains. bberwyn photo.
Study calls out inaccurate media reports about links between bugs and wildfires
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Dire warnings about how beetle outbreaks make forests more prone to fires are ringing increasingly hollow, as more and more forest research shows that other factors — especially weather — are more important drivers. In some cases, defoliation by bugs may actually lessen the the threat of disastrous crown fires.
In one of the latest studies, researchers with the University of Oregon and the U.S. Forest Service took a close look at the relationship between fires and spruce budworm infestations in the Pacific Northwest. They found that defoliation reduces both torching and crowning potential. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, forest fires, Forest health, forests | Tagged: crown fires, Forest health, forests, western spruce budworm, Wildfires | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 21, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
A new study finds that human disturbance drives forest changes in eastern U.S. bberwyn photo
Fire suppression, land-clearing outweigh climate factors, study says
FRISCO — Climate change may only be a secondary factor in the changing composition of Eastern forests. Changes in disturbance regimes have had a much bigger impact in the past century or so, according to Marc Abrams, a researcher in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.
Abrams says eastern forests are still in a state of disequilibrium resulting from massive clear-cutting and burning during the late 1800s and early 1900s, and aggressive forest fire suppression has also had a far greater influence on shifts in dominant tree species than minor differences in temperature. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, Forest health, forests, global warming | Tagged: climate change, Forest health, forests, global warming | 1 Comment »
Posted on September 30, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Dead and dying lodgepole pines in Frisco, Colorado.
Study shows no clear link between beetle-kill and ecological severity of western wildfires
FRISCO — For all their frenzied tree-killing during the past 10 years, mountain pine beetles haven’t been a big factor in the ecological severity of wildfires in the West, a team of university scientists said this week.
Weather and topography are the main factors in determining how much damage a wildfire does to forest ecosystems, according to the researchers with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.
The new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provides some of the first rigorous field data to test whether fires that burn in areas impacted by mountain pine beetles are more ecologically severe than in those not attacked by the native bug. The study didn’t look at fire behavior, including how fast they spread or how dangerous they are to fight. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, forest fires, Forest health, forests, pine beetles and wildfires | Tagged: fire intensity, forest fires, pine beetles, Wildfires | 2 Comments »