Category Archives: FERM

Earth, Water, and Fire (& Politics too)

What does it mean to be at the intersection of science, policy, philosophy, and cultural norms? This week our guest Brian Trick, a Masters student in the College of Forestry, will discuss some tremendous hurdles we Oregonians have with how we perceive and need healthy forests for the most important resource of all.

Sometimes you get sent out on a fire, spend two days on it, and then it rains on you. Trying to stay warming until it's time to leave. This my best Wilson brother, "behind enemy lines" look.

Sometimes you get sent out on a fire, spend two days on it, and then it rains on you. Trying to stay warm until it’s time to leave. This is my best Wilson brother, “behind enemy lines” look.

We need water to live; considering Oregon receives about 80% of its freshwater from forests it only makes sense to protect areas that carry water from mountaintops to our taps. There are federally mandated safety boundaries (riparian buffers) that surround rivers and streams in forests applied on public and private lands alike. These buffers restrict activity to help minimize erosion losses, temperature spikes in water, as well as sediment and chemical inputs to keep ecosystems functioning. Most of the water purification process happens (literally) upstream. Research projects suggest larger riparian areas will keep ecosystems functioning at a higher level; perfect you might think, lets make the riparian buffers extra wide right?

Not so fast, what happens if you own a small parcel of forest and there are so many streams the riparian buffers prevent you from doing anything on your own property? How much of a buffer zone around a stream is needed for a healthy ecosystem, while simultaneously allowing small land-owners to manage forests? Can we arrive at a ‘one size fits most‘ for protected riparian areas? This is policy at its best, if it works!

This is a complicated intersection of forest management and domestic policy and Brian Trick will help discuss some current events and what this could mean for a judicial precedent. In the event we help Brian save the riparian-buffer world, we’ll also delve into his upcoming job as a Forest Service smokejumper, but don’t worry this isn’t the first time he’s jumped out of aircrafts!

Tune in on Sunday, March 27th at 7PM PST on 88.7 FM in Corvallis or stream us online at http://kbvr.com/listen to hear exactly why Brian is (literally) a Hotshot!

Brian working for the USDA Forest Service in a rappel operation located in Salmon, ID.

Brian working for the USDA Forest Service in a rappel operation in Salmon, ID.

Deciphering the Language of the Universe

3 Minute Thesis Slide

A diagram demonstrating how information in lake sediment can reveal natural history. Courtesy of Francisco Guerrero

Scientists design experiments to answer a specific question, and usually they already have an informed prediction as to what the answer may be. They set up treatments and make measurements of specific variables that they think will contribute information for the understanding of the problem. In natural systems, however, there are innumerable variables that could also be informative for the system. For Francisco Guerrero, a PhD student in the Department of Forest Engineering, Resources, and Management, the leftover material—the unused information—is essential to the understanding of a natural system but may be overlooked by scientists after a specific outcome. Francisco wants to harness all the information in a natural system, identify patterns, and simulate a complete picture of a forest or a watershed. An application of Francisco’s research in the lab of Jeff Hatten utilizes Information Theory to create a mathematical tool that translates that information into a snapshot of a forest ecosystem as it is evolving, allowing scientists to predict where it is headed and past events that have lead to the current state.

Francisco With Soil Sample

Francisco holds a soil sample to be processed in the lab. Courtesy of Francisco Guerrero

Francisco’s academic journey itself has evolved from early dreams of becoming a TV producer to ecologist to engineer. Passionate in his pursuits, our guest this Sunday loves to chase a challenge. To hear about about Francisco’s research and his unique journey, tune in to 88.7 FM KBVR in Corvallis on Sunday, October 18th at 7PM PST, or stream the show live online at http://kbvr.com/listen!