Research

An Evaluation of the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership

Over the past decade, the Forest Service has increased the utilization of partnerships and programs designed to encourage the pace and scale of collaborative and landscape-scale restoration efforts. The Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership is one such program, established in 2014 and designed to restore landscapes with a mix of public and private lands, reduce wildfire threats to communities and landowners, protect water quality and enhance wildlife habitat. Our research focused on the following questions: (1) In what ways has the Joint Chiefs program promoted innovation and been successful? (2) What are the persistent barriers faced by these projects? And, (3) What factors are important to supporting success under the program now and into the future? We used semi-structured interviews to explore these questions across a sample of the Joint Chief’s projects and will report on our findings and analysis to date. By investigating factors that support success or act as barriers for JCLRP, this project will inform the next generation of collaborative forest restoration efforts on National Forest System and adjacent lands.

I am advised by Dr. Courtney Schultz at Colorado State University.

Projected completion: Spring 2018

Considering Climate Change in Forest Planning on the Francis Marion & Flathead National Forests

The USDA Forest Service 2012 National Forest Management Act (NFMA) planning rule and 2016 Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) guidance on climate change in National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documents have resulted in the integration of climate change into revised forest plans. The Francis Marion and Flathead National Forests have recently engaged in the process of revising their forest plans and, pursuant to the administrative laws, have included an analysis of climate change in their forest plans, assessments and associated NEPA documents. Using document analysis and interview data, this research undertakes a comparison of how the two planning teams for the forests mechanically and substantively considered climate change in order to determine the policy outcomes of the NFMA planning rule and CEQ guidance and the implications of the planning practice. Both planning processes yielded similar analytical outputs regarding climate change, but between the forests, the way each planning team approached climate change diverged. Using the policy learning framework developed by May (1992), the findings from this research demonstrate differences in how each planning team conceptualized the problem of climate change.

This research was completed by myself, Tait Rutherford and Leah Hale, to fulfill requirements for the Analysis of Environmental Impact course taught by Dr. Tony Cheng.

Project completed: Fall 2016

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Timber Value Losses Resulting From the West Fork Complex Fire

The purpose of this study is to determine the impacts of this high severity fire event on the value of timber burned in the West Fork Complex fire area. Using conservative estimates based on stumpage values, the value of timber before and after the fire will be compared, ultimately determining the value loss of burned timber as a result of the fire after being adjusted for beetle-kill valuation losses.  Estimates will allow for a more accurate valuation of the actual costs resulting from the West Fork Complex fire.

I am advised by Dr. Kurt Mackes at Colorado State University. Article has been submitted to the Forest Products Journal and is currently under review.

Projected completion: Fall 2017

Potential Avoided Cost Study of Select Colorado Wildfires: A true cost analysis of the Hayman, Black Forest and West Fork wildfires 

Catastrophic fire events are becoming more frequent, more severe and more costly in Colorado. The literature suggests that considering suppression costs alone significantly under-represents the true costs of wildland fire events. This study will capture costs associated with the Hayman Fire [2002], Black Forest Fire [2013] and West Fork Fire [2013] with the objective of identifying the true costs of these wildfires and the factors that contribute to those costs.

I am advised by Dr. Kurt Mackes at Colorado State University.

Projected completion: Spring 2018

A study in improving the forest action Plan updating process

Forest Action Plans are science-based reports to assist state forestry agencies and their partners in identifying and prioritizing forested lands with the greatest need and opportunity for management and to develop long-term strategies to address those areas. The purpose of this document is to streamline and add to the consistency of Forest Action Plans across the country, furthering manager and landowner ability to contribute to the overall health of our nations’s forests.

Completed: December 2015

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