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Category: Forestry

Clean Air Provides Healthy Lands and Lets You Breathe a Little Easier

Allegheny National Forest’s Allegheny Reservoir

The air is clean above and the water is clear below in the Allegheny National Forest’s Allegheny Reservoir in Pennsylvania. Photo credit: U.S. Forest Service

Something we do every day for survival is something we often take for granted – breathing.  And a very important component of breathing is clean air. Air quality has a direct effect not only on the health of people, but also ecosystems.

The Air Program in the Eastern and Southern regions of the U.S. Forest Service oversees a resource that affects and integrates with other resources, from smoke management to watersheds and wilderness to recreation and vegetation. Read more »

Forest Service Rookie an International Inspiration

Angelica Perez-Delgado with an international drilling crew

Angelica Perez-Delgado (far right) with an international drilling crew, worked on disaster relief in the nation of Georgia as one of her first assignments with the Forest Service. Photo credit: U.S. Forest Service

Six months after being hired by the U.S. Forest Service, Angelica Perez-Delgado made a major impact, including international assistance to the country of Georgia, on her way to being named Rookie of the Year for the Pacific Southwest Region late in 2015.

When a major storm event triggered a landslide in the Black Sea facing nation of Georgia in early this past year, destroying roadways, the country turned to the U.S. Forest Service for assistance. Almost immediately, Perez-Delgado started assisting the Forest Service project team for Georgia with support in mapping and computerized drawings. Read more »

Moss Study Helps Identify Pollution Hotspots

Moss growing on urban trees

Moss growing on urban trees, such as this species sample of Lyell’s orthotrichum, is a useful bioindicator that can help monitor cadmium, a carcinogenic heavy metal, in the air. Photo credit: U.S. Forest Service

In December 2013 when Sarah Jovan and Geoffrey Donovan, two scientists with the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station in Portland, Oregon, crisscrossed the northwest area of their city they had no idea they were onto something big. Armed with a ladder and collection equipment, the two spent most of that gray and rainy month carefully plucking hundreds of moss samples off the trunks of the city’s hardwood trees.

They were in relatively uncharted scientific territory, though their research focus seemed straightforward enough: determine if moss, in particular, the ubiquitous Lyell’s orthotrichum moss which grows abundantly across much of the city, could help measure urban air pollution. Read more »

Wildlife after Wildfire in Southern Appalachia

A young black bear in a forest

Wildlife cameras capture a young black bear enjoying new growth from a prescribed burn on the Pisgah National Forest. Photo credit: Lisa Jennings

It was my first prescribed burn. After weeks of training and months of anticipation, I was finally on the ground – drip torch in hand – ready to apply fire to restore the mixed pine-hardwood forests at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains on the Pisgah National Forest.

Joining the U.S Forest Service only two months earlier, my knowledge of fire’s effect on plant and wildlife communities was limited. But as the coordinator for the Grandfather Restoration Project, part of the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration program, I had to quickly come up to speed with the on-the-ground reality of prescribed fire use. Read more »

A Tree in a Time Capsule

Gene Conservation poster

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) hosts a free workshop on gene banks for conservation of tree species in Chicago, IL, May 16-19, 2016. Details are available at www.fs.fed.us/geneworkshop.

The story of Super Girl being placed in a pod on Krypton and fired off to earth to help save her cousin and at least some of her species is science fiction. But for many species the danger of extinction from climate change, habitat destruction, or invasive exotic pests is the real deal.

At an upcoming Gene Conservation Workshop experts will discuss different ways to safeguard species from climate change and other threats. For forest tree species that are experiencing rapid declines due to invasive exotic pests or climate change, long term seed storage is our best hope so that they can be returned to the wild once a control is found. Read more »

Climate Smart Restoration of Appalachian Forests

Understanding soil carbon graphic

Understanding soil carbon graphic. Graphic credit: Aurora Cutler and Cheryl Ziebart (Click to enlarge)

As the climate changes, and our forests are affected, the need to reclaim impacted areas and restore native species becomes more important than ever. The U.S. Forest Service’s Monongahela National Forest is at the forefront of not only forest restoration, but also helping those landscapes adapt to climate change.

The red spruce forests of the Appalachian highlands are an integral part of the regional biodiversity, providing habitat and food for the northern flying squirrel and the Cheat Mountain Salamander, and the ecosystem supports 240 rare species in West Virginia alone. Additionally, the forests blanket the headwaters of five major river systems upstream of millions of people living and working in the Charleston, West Virginia; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. regions. Read more »