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Posts tagged: Rocky Mountain Research Station

Keeping Animals Connected All Over the World

An African lion

African lions are vulnerable to habitat fragmentation and U.S. Forest Service landscape modeling identified fencing and corridors as suitable solutions in many countries. Photo credit: Sam Cushman

The landscape modeling expertise Samuel Cushman provides as a research ecologist at the U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station is in demand worldwide as human-caused disturbances impact animal distribution, connectivity and survival.

Whether it’s clouded leopards in Borneo, lions in Africa, elephants in India, snow leopards in Central Asia or European brown bears, Cushman and his partners study what aspects of the landscape are truly important to animals, how they influence movement and genetic diversity, and which conservation plans will have the most impact. Read more »

New Research Provides Insights into Sage Grouse DNA

Sage grouse male

Sage grouse male strutting hoping to attract females.

The greater sage grouse is an iconic bird that lives in the American West’s sagebrush landscape. It’s also a species at the center of a nationwide debate focused on how best to manage its habitat to balance multiple uses and ensure the bird’s long-term survival.

And the dialogue has just been informed by new information from a genetics study that has validated the primary target locations of current conservation efforts. Read more »

Working Together to Restore the Colorado Front Range

Dr. Richard Reynolds talking with a group of land owners and land managers about the benefits of ponderosa pine forest restoration to wildlife species

Dr. Richard Reynolds talks with a group of land owners and land managers about the benefits of ponderosa pine forest restoration to wildlife species. Photo credit: Jennifer Hayes, US Forest Service

It started with a call from a concerned landowner living on Pine Country Lane, nestled in the foothills just west of Denver. The landscape spread out before them was scarred from previous high-severity fires, the homeowners told their local Conservation District.

Their home was sitting at the top of a hill in a tinderbox surrounded by dense forests dying from bark beetle and tussock moth invasions. Decades of fire suppression has altered forests on the Front Range. These forests were historically adapted to frequent low-severity fire and, with suppression, have become fuel-dense and are now comprised of a different species mix. Read more »

Conserving Monarch Butterflies and their Habitats

A monarch butterfly on flowers

Monarch butterflies rely on milkweed species. Photo credit:

With more than 80 percent of the world’s flowering plants relying on pollinators, their importance to natural ecosystems and agriculture cannot be overstated. However, populations of pollinators, including bird, bat, butterfly, beetle and bee species, have been declining around the world. Recognizing the importance of pollinators, Secretary Tom Vilsack of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has proclaimed June 15 to 21, 2015 as National Pollinator Week.

To celebrate Pollinator Week, we are sharing some of the Forest Service’s work to conserve one iconic pollinator species and its habitat – the Monarch butterfly. Monarch butterflies complete incredible migrations of hundreds to thousands of miles each year across North America. Along their migratory paths, Monarchs rely on habitats that contain milkweed species, which is the only plant that they lay their eggs on. Monarch caterpillars feed exclusively on milkweed, which contains chemical compounds that make them poisonous to potential predators. Read more »

Managing for Wildfires Every Single Day of the Year

Research Forester Mike Battaglia leading a field tour at the Manitou Experimental Forest

Research Forester Mike Battaglia leads a field tour at the Manitou Experimental Forest, in Colorado, describing research aimed at understanding how different tree densities influence growth rates and subsequent re-entry, in order to maintain longevity of restoration treatments. Photo credit: US Forest Service

On June 9, 2012, a lightning strike sparked a wildfire in the mountains west of Fort Collins, Colorado, burning into the Roosevelt National Forest. The High Park fire burned over 87,000 acres and remains the third largest fire in recorded Colorado history, with more than 250 homes destroyed.

Matt Champa, assistant prescribed fire specialist with the Canyon Lakes Ranger District of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, remembers clearly the two and a half weeks the High Park Fire burned. Matt was among the individuals actively working on the ground to suppress and contain the fire; at its height, more than 2,000 people were involved in the suppression effort. Read more »

Going to Great Heights for Data and Atmospheric Monitoring

Carita Chan was excited to get to ride in a Sno-Cat for the first time. U.S. Forest Service photo.

Carita Chan was excited to get to ride in a Sno-Cat for the first time. U.S. Forest Service photo.

What lengths would you go to for the pursuit of science?

That’s a question I asked myself when I had the opportunity to participate in data collection at the Glacier Lakes Ecosystem Experiments Site with John Frank and John Korfmacher, Electronics Engineer and Physical Scientist respectively, at the Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station.

The Glacier Lakes Ecosystem Experiments Site, or GLEES, is located in the Snowy Range of the Medicine Bow Mountains, within the Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming. The remote site’s 600 hectares (1,480 acres) are composed of a watershed located in mountainous terrain at 3,200 to 3,500 m (10,500 to 11,500 ft.) elevation. Read more »