Volume 5, Issue 1 - Spring 2012
Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center Highlights
by Nancy Grulke, WWETAC Director
As the Western Center transitions through retirements and staff changes, I wanted to provide an update on our current structure and share our research focus areas. Our current staff includes Alan Ager (wildfire risk assessment), Nicole Vaillant (fuels management tools), John Kim (dynamic vegetation modeler, part time), Paige Fischer (human dimensions of environmental threats), Lisa Balduman (technology information specialist), and Terry Shaw (emeritus scientist). We are also pleased to welcome acting WWETAC assistant director Helen Maffei from Forest Health Protection in the Pacific Northwest Region, Marc Kramer, Pacific Northwest climate change scientist, on a part-time basis to promote climate change communication within and among the regions, research assistant Sean Schroeder, student Scott Lewis, and program assistant Jerry "Nick" Tarvin. We have also made great progress in our four focus areas:
Our landscape assessment progress includes, 1) an annotated bibliography of threats to western riparian ecosystems, 2) an analysis of existing incentive programs encouraging landowners to engage in restoration and protection of ecosystem services, and 3) a management landscape vulnerability assessment. Other assessments and tools target owl habitat changes, seed zones and climate change and fuel management treatments.
WWETAC completed two sociological studies that identified four types of private landowners based on land use and motivation that will require different incentives to encourage carbon sequestration. Two key syntheses were also produced – one highlighted forest ecosystems and climate change, and the other study reviewed ecological models responsive to climate change.
Researchers developed a model to predict bark beetle outbreak risk in Washington and Oregon. WWETAC also published a synthesis focused on climate change impacts on forest disease.
Wildfire Risk and Fuels Management
We updated an existing tool for fuels management (ArcFuels), as well as developed a new assessment tool, Landscape Treatment Design. We also discovered several interesting human behavior results pertaining to wildfire risk. For example, private landowners, grouped by motivation, require different incentives to reduce wildfire risk.
For a complete look at current WWETAC staff and research efforts, please visit http://www.fs.fed.us/wwetac/index.
Forest Service and NASA Release Web-Based Forest Disturbance Monitoring Tool
The Eastern and Western Threat Assessment Centers recently unveiled a product that helps natural resource managers rapidly detect, identify, and respond to unexpected changes in the nation’s forests by using web-based tools.
ForWarn, a satellite-based monitoring and assessment tool, recognizes and tracks potential forest disturbances caused by insects, diseases, wildfires, extreme weather, or other natural or human-caused events. The prototype version of ForWarn has successfully operated since January 2010 and uses NASA MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) satellite imagery to recognize and track changes in vegetation across the nation, providing a near-real-time view of potential forest disturbance and recovery.
ForWarn uses a web-based map tool, the Forest Change Assessment Viewer, to provide an 8-day coast-to-coast snapshot of the US landscape, interpret images, and create geographically relevant maps. For additional information, please visit http://www.forwarn.forestthreats.org.