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Posts tagged: University of Arizona

Jointly Developed Watershed Assessment Model Being Used in Yosemite National Park

Bridalveil Falls, Yosemite National Park, California (USDA-NRCS photo by Ron Nichols).

Bridalveil Falls, Yosemite National Park, California (USDA-NRCS photo by Ron Nichols).

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

An award-winning watershed assessment tool, the Automated Geospatial Watershed Assessment (AGWA), was deployed to assess potential Rim Fire threats in Yosemite National Park in California.  The park experienced a devastating fire that began on August 17, 2013, and took several months to contain. The fire burned more than 400 square miles in and around the park, cost $125.8 million to date, and is considered one of the largest wildfires in California’s history.

BAER (Burned Area Emergency Response) is a multi-agency group that includes USDA’s Forest Service and others, and is responsible for identifying potential threats such as downstream flooding and developing plans to rehabilitate and restore burned areas. BAER teams use AGWA to target immediate efforts to prevent threats to people, wildlife and the land.  Using AGWA combined with the burn severity map produced by BAER teams, experts can rapidly pull together information on pre- and post-fire conditions. For example, knowing where to apply mulch after a fire can reduce runoff and erosion and can help minimize downstream risks from fire induced land cover and soil changes. Read more »

Moving up and Out — These Trees Were Made for Walking

Although birch trees can’t literally walk, warming temperatures are causing a gradual migration of these and other tree and plant species to northern or higher elevation climates. USDA photo.

Although birch trees can’t literally walk, warming temperatures are causing a gradual migration of these and other tree and plant species to northern or higher elevation climates. USDA photo.

With large areas of our planet heating up because of climate change, some trees (and plants) are pulling up roots and heading north, to higher elevations and to cooling climes—well, sort of.

A U.S. Forest Service-led study suggests there are a few dozen tree species in the eastern U.S. that are moving north at an unexpected rate.

“For some plants and trees, moving north is real and their only chance for survival,” said Chris Woodall, a research forester for Northern Research Station and the study’s author. “Our study confirms a link between global warming and forest migration. It’s no longer conjecture.” Read more »

Pest v. Pest: ARS Offers Method for Combating Whiteflies

ARS studies have shown that there are effective “greener” alternatives to conventional broad-spectrum pesticides for fighting sweet potato whiteflies on cotton plants.

ARS studies have shown that there are effective alternatives to conventional broad-spectrum pesticides for fighting sweet potato whiteflies on cotton plants.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Some Arizona growers rely on broad-spectrum insecticides to treat whiteflies, but scientists with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) are studying the option of letting nature lend a hand in combating the costly pests. Read more »