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ISSN: 0022-1201

Don C. Bragg

Current Issue

Volume 112, Number 4, July 2014
  • research articles
    education & communication

    Collaborative Learning about Forest Understory Restoration and Management: Identifying Goals and Sharing Knowledge


    Ecosystem services provided by forests (e.g., nutrient cycling) are critical in midwestern landscapes. We conducted collaborative workshops with forest landowners and management professionals using specific strategies to provide information about nutrient dynamics in forests and learn about goals/obstacles for forest management in Iowa. Preparticipation surveys assessed knowledge and goals and postparticipation surveys measured learning and potential for forest management. Landowners' goals included conservation, aesthetics, recreation, and water quality, whereas lack of management activities (e.g., harvesting), insufficient funding, and invasive species were cited as obstacles. Education and restoration of ecosystem integrity were identified as means to achieve goals. The collaborative learning framework contributed to increased participant knowledge about ecosystem structure/function and plans for invasive species control, timber stand improvement, and restoration of desirable species. Facilitators learned that resources on invasive species management, as well as "easy-to-use" information about understory plants, would support additional restoration education and action.


    Agricultural intensification throughout the upper Midwest has led to degradation of natural ecosystems and increased pollution in the region's waterways. Restoring areas of perennial vegetation in this landscape is a viable approach for improving water quality. Remnant hardwood forests are an example of plant communities that could contribute to improved water quality, but often these areas have been disturbed by human land uses (cattle grazing or urbanization) that decrease biodiversity and capacity to capture pollutants. Herbaceous understory plants play an important role for nutrient capture in these systems. Forest landowners and forest managers (agency or consulting forestry professionals) could increase ecosystem services by restoring understory plant communities. Although these stakeholders may lack prior knowledge of the specific role of the understory, their orientation toward conservation could lead to interest in restoration activities in forests. Increasing forest owners'/managers' knowledge about forest herbaceous plants, their ecological role, and the potential for restoration might lead to management actions that could increase biodiversity, improve habitat quality, and protect surface water quality throughout this region. Collaborative workshops consistent with adult learning theory such as those described here can offer interactive opportunities for educators and practitioners to share information, discuss goals, and develop solutions to address management barriers.

    wildlife management

    Family Richness and Biomass of Understory Invertebrates in Early and Late Successional Habitats of Northern New Hampshire


    In the northeastern United States, many vertebrate species rely on early successional forest habitats (ESHs). ESHs may also support higher invertebrate diversity and abundance than late successional habitats (LSHs). We assessed the differences in family-level richness and biomass of understory terrestrial invertebrates during the summer season in paired ESH (3-7 years since harvest) and LSH (>50 years since last harvest) stands in the northern hardwood forests of northern New Hampshire. Invertebrate family richness was 1.5 times greater in ESH, with 35 families found only in ESH compared with 5 families found only in LSH. Invertebrate biomass was 3.2 times greater in ESH than in LSH. Our sampling methodology and time frame were limited, and taxonomic resolution was relatively coarse. Nevertheless, our results suggest that including ESH stands in northeastern managed forest landscapes may help maintain high levels of invertebrate diversity and are consistent with the use of ESH by many insectivorous vertebrates.


    Foresters are under increasing pressure to demonstrate, document, and communicate the broader ecological impacts of their actions. Although there is an emerging body of literature on how forest management can protect and improve wildlife habitat and overall biodiversity, critical ecological linkages, taxonomic groups, and regional context are often lacking. In this study, we provide quantitative evidence that in the northern hardwood forests of northern New England, the understories of recently harvested forest stands are associated with higher levels of invertebrate diversity and greater invertebrate abundance and biomass than understories of paired, unharvested stands. Although the sampling methods and sampling time frame were limited, results were consistent with previously observed and well-established characteristics of early successional habitats, including high levels of light and nutrients and high productivity of herbaceous vegetation. The patterns of invertebrate abundance and biomass documented here may explain why early successional habitats are heavily used by a wide range of vertebrate insectivores. Ultimately, we envision that management guides currently including prescriptions for wildlife habitat will also address invertebrate communities and their contribution to forest ecosystem structure and function.

    forest ecology

    Effects of Management on Range Expansion by Chinese Tallow in the Forestlands of Eastern Texas


    Chinese tallow (Triadica sebifera [L.] Small) was the most prevalent invasive tree in the forestlands of eastern Texas in 2006. We analyzed an extensive data set collected as part of the Forest Inventory and Analysis Program of the USDA Forest Service to quantify the range expansion of Chinese tallow from 2006 to 2011. Our results indicated that the presence of Chinese tallow on sampled plots doubled during this period. Chinese tallow spread extensively toward the north. Results of multiple logistic regression, which classified 71% of the field plots correctly with regard to species presence and absence, indicated that the probability of invasion was correlated positively with mean daily minimum temperature, elevation, adjacency to water bodies, and site productivity and was correlated negatively with stand age, site preparation, artificial regeneration, and distance to the nearest road. Habitats most at risk of further invasion (likelihood of invasion >20%) under current conditions occurred primarily in northeastern Texas, with a few invasion hotspots in the South. Estimated probabilities of further invasion were reduced the most by site preparation and artificial regeneration, with habitats most at risk again occurring primarily in northeastern Texas.


    Our results suggest that opportunity exists for reducing the likelihood of range expansion by Chinese tallow via more widespread use of site preparation and artificial regeneration, field data generated via the national array of Forest Inventory Analysis (FIA) plots represent an underutilized resource in terms of providing the opportunity to identify recent broad-scale invasive trends, and the FIA data also provide the opportunity to correlate these trends with potential causal factors, and, as field sampling continues on the FIA plots, to empirically test the predictions of range expansion based on these correlations.

  • practice of forestry
    education & communication

    Producing "Society-Ready" Foresters: A Research-Based Process to Revise the Bachelor of Science in Forestry Curriculum at Stephen F. Austin State University


    "Society-ready" foresters are capable of dealing effectively with the complex economic, ecological, and social issues involving forestry in the 21st century. To assess the knowledge areas, skill sets, abilities, and behaviors needed by society-ready, entry-level foresters today, we surveyed 800 forestry employers and forestry alumni from Stephen F. Austin State University (SFASU), and we also conducted focus group sessions with a total of 58 forestry employers. Important areas of knowledge on emerging issues for society-ready Bachelor of Science in Forestry (BSF) graduates included climate change, water availability and quality, and dealing with invasive plants, pathogens, and insects. However, the skill sets and abilities that involve dealing effectively with people were ranked highest in terms of areas in which the BSF curriculum at SFASU should be strengthened. This basic message-the need to improve people skills while maintaining strength and relevance in technical skills-is consistent with reports, studies, and conferences on forestry education in the United States since the early 1900s. At SFASU, we are revising the BSF curriculum to address the results of our research-based process, and we are also targeting research and outreach to address the century-old, chronic issue of how to measurably improve the knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors needed for foresters to work most effectively with people. In our research and application of results, we learned that the process of curriculum revision is just as important as the product: learning from our process will help guide other program leaders in forestry and natural resources to evaluate and revise undergraduate curricula. When done well, we believe work of this type will strengthen both the rigor and relevance in a curriculum, and the process will also strengthen relationships with alumni, employers, and other key constituents.


    To develop society-ready foresters, Bachelor of Science in Forestry (BSF) programs must involve knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors that span personal and general competencies as well as technical competencies. In the past, Stephen F. Austin State University and other universities have generally done well at preparing BSF graduates in technical knowledge and skills, but improvement is needed to strengthen general and personal competencies, particularly those that involve working effectively with people. These competencies include oral and written communication skills, and behaviors such as conducting oneself in a professional manner. To cultivate technical, general, and personal competencies in BSF programs in the future will require specific actions that involve forestry educators as well as employers and other practicing professionals to address systemic biases favoring the status quo. Together we must do the following: (1) stress all important competencies in the BSF curriculum, not just the technical disciplines; (2) through research, develop methods to measure progress and results in developing all competencies; (3) share best practices to enhance specific competencies; (4) increase the scholarship of teaching and learning applied to forestry education; (5) continue to work with employers and other practicing professionals to enhance opportunities for internships, service learning projects, professional engagement, and other experiences for BSF students that are cocurricular and extracurricular in nature; and (6) continue to encourage lifelong learning and professional development in forestry, particularly to cultivate and promote means of working effectively with people.

    harvesting & utilization

    Heat Treatment of Firewood for Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire): Case Studies


    The movement of firewood within emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire) (EAB)-infested states and into adjoining areas has been a contributor to its spread throughout the United States and Canada. In an effort to prevent further human-aided spread of EAB and to facilitate interstate commerce, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and cooperating states in the EAB quarantine have established a heat treatment process to be used as a mitigating treatment to allow movement of firewood from EAB quarantine areas. Firewood producers have since been faced with challenges implementing heat treatment processes and meeting the treatment standard for firewood. In this article, we present four case studies, conducted at firewood heat treatment facilities, with the aim of addressing these challenges. Different heat treating strategies were used in each of these facilities to meet the particular needs of operation. A step-by-step operating procedure was developed for heat treatment operation and temperature monitoring of both kiln and firewood samples during the heating process.


    Because of the potential risk of emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire) (EAB) spread and establishment, the movement of firewood from areas currently known to be infested is restricted under state and federal quarantine regulations. Similarly, many states also prohibit the import of firewood, regardless of its origin, in an attempt to prevent the introduction of exotic forest pests. Heat treatment has been approved by state and federal agencies as a mitigating treatment for EAB to allow the movement of firewood from quarantined areas. The success of a heat treatment process depends on the heating capacity of the treatment facility and how well the system is operated. As part of any federal or state regulatory enforcement program, it is important to assess the heating capacity of all heat treating facilities, identify any deficiencies such as cold spots within the kiln, and determine requirements for the kiln to meet the EAB heat treatment standard. Properly monitoring the core temperatures of the firewood samples located in cold spots is a critical procedure in implementing an effective heat treatment operation. For kilns with limited heating capacity (such as those heated with hot water), a kiln temperature that is minimally 10° F above the required core wood temperature is necessary to achieve the treatment standard. The case studies reported here illustrate some potential errors that can compromise the effectiveness of the heat treating process when operating procedures are not carefully followed.


    Working Woods: A Case Study of Sustainable Forest Management on Vermont Family Forests


    Families own 35% of US forestland and 67% of Vermont forestland. Sustainable management of their woodlots could provide social and economic benefits for generations. We examined sustainable forest management across four counties in Vermont by evaluating the use of silvicultural practices and best management practices on 59 recently harvested, family-owned properties with at least 25 acres of timberland. We explored relationships between management practices and Vermont's Use Value Appraisal Forestland Tax Program (UVA), one of Vermont's primary forest management policy instruments. We found positive correlations between UVA enrollment and sustainable management practices and determined that UVA may be partly responsible for the increased application of silviculture in the study area compared with that in other parts of the Northeast. Even so, UVA's limited adoption and the overall prevalence of nonsilvicultural harvesting practices demonstrate that policy alone is not achieving widespread sustainable forest management among family forest owners in Vermont.


    As in other areas of the United States, Vermont's family forests are often managed without attention to long-term productivity. Although our study documented that approximately 40% of the sampled harvests exhibited evidence of use of acceptable silvicultural practices, this level of silviculture may not be enough to meet the state's goal of "production and use of resources to meet the needs of present generations without compromising the needs of future generations" (Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation 2010, p. 23). Greater efforts are needed in Vermont and elsewhere to promote sustainable forest management. Vermont's Use Value Appraisal Forestland Tax Program (UVA) is strongly correlated with evidence of sustainable forest management and is probably increasing the use of sustainable practices on enrolled properties. The findings related to UVA will be useful to policymakers in Vermont and elsewhere, who must assess the efficacy and efficiency of such programs. In addition, an evaluation of a current use program's impact will help land managers assess its value for individual landowners. Ultimately, it seems that states will best achieve widespread sustainable forest management by preserving and enhancing the capacity of existing programs such as UVA, while finding additional ways to enable sustainable management on properties outside the influence of such programs.

  • commentary

    Remembering Alan Lucier

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