Brad Withrow-Robinson, Forestry & Natural Resources Extension agent for Benton, Linn and Polk Counties.

In previous installments of this blog, we have discussed a variety of topics that create challenges for landowners and land managers who are trying to manage their properties in light of climate change, including that we cannot expect just one outcome in any region, but many outcomes according to site-specific factors like elevation, the slope and the direction it faces.

For landowners interested in reducing their risk or increasing a forest’s resiliency, there is still no clear and easy path forward. Not

OST trainees recording life stages of a huckleberry at the HJ Andrews forest. Photo B. Withrow-Robinson
OST trainees recording life stages of a huckleberry at the HJ Andrews forest. Photo B. Withrow-Robinson

enough is known and we need more information to guide our actions.  Long-term data is the best source of information to shed light on changing weather patterns as well as the response of plants, animals and ecosystems to the changes, including changes in seasonal events and patterns (phenology).   That data and knowledge can come from a number of institutional resources, but it can also come from the public, through citizen science efforts.

 

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TF mugBy Max Bennett, OSU Extension Forestry & Natural Resources Extension, Jackson & Josephine Counties

Terry Fairbanks is staff silviculturist for the Bureau of Land Management, Medford District, and a small woodland owner in the Applegate Valley.  In this interview, I ask Terry for her thoughts on adapting to climate change in southern Oregon’s hot, dry, fire-prone forests.

Q: Terry, tell us about your background. 

TF: I’ve been a forester for over 30 years.  I started with the US Forest Service on the Mt Hood, and worked on the Willamette and Umpqua and made my way southward.  I switched to the BLM 13 years ago.  Most of my career I’ve been a silviculturist.  I spent a little while as a timber supervisor.  I’m responsible for reforestation, young stand management and I work with the prescription foresters.  I also participate in planning efforts at the District level.

Q: What are some of your concerns about climate change in the Rogue Basin? 

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Trees are genetically adapted to their local climate. Local populations of trees may become maladapted if climate changes faster than species or populations ability to move or evolve. Recent research on the genetics of Douglas-fir stated that “Current populations are expected to be poorly adapted to future climates.”1 The authors also suggested “Human intervention will be required to ensure productive and adapted Douglas-fir forests in the face of climate change.” An approach to addressing this problem is assisted migration – the deliberate movement and establishment of a new population of a species or genetic type outside its current geographic range to another in order to introduce better adaptive traits.

What types of trees would you plant if you wanted to anticipate a warmer climate in the future? How would you decide? Continue reading

By Glenn Ahrens, OSU Forestry and Natural Resources Extension Agent – Clackamas, Marion, & Hood River Counties

Dying Douglas-fir trees have been a common sight in western Oregon in recent years due to drought-related problems, exacerbated by diseases and insects that attack stressed trees. History shows that periodic drought is to be expected in western Oregon and Douglas-fir forests are adapted to summer heat and drought to some extent. But extreme drought causes tree morality and raises concerns. In the news about climate change, there is a lot of talk about higher levels of heat and drought being the “new normal”. Is the recent drought “normal” or “abnormal” for western Oregon?  Either way, how can we manage our forests to improve their resilience – their ability to withstand climatic extremes? Continue reading

By Paul Oester, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension Agent – Union, Umatilla & Wallowa Counties

Resilience is a term that is bounced around a lot when discussing ways our forests can adapt to changing environments. But, what does it mean? Basically, it’s the capacity of a forest to withstand (absorb) a disturbance or external pressure and return, over time, to its pre-disturbance state1. We all would like our forests to be resilient in the face of natural disturbances such as fire, insects, disease and wind so they can keep providing us with clean water, wildlife habitat, beautiful vistas, grass for livestock and timber production.  Continue reading

By Amy Grotta, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension – Columbia, Washington, & Yamhill Counties

Risk management – it sounds like a bureaucratic job title. Nonetheless, risk management factors into countless decisions that woodland owners make. Whether you call it hedging your bets, keeping your options open, or not putting all your eggs in one basket, these are all ways of saying that you are managing risk. Continue reading

By Jason O’Brien, OSU Forestry and Natural Resources Extension – Oregon Master Naturalist Program Coordinator

The media is buzzing with reports about fire, drought and extreme heat. And climate change is often attached to these stories. But does climate science explain how today’s extreme weather relates, if at all, to global climate change? This article will highlight some of these relationships.

First, let’s review definitions of weather, climate and climate change. Weather is the state of the atmosphere at a place and time that determines if it is hot, dry, sunny, rainy, windy, etc. Climate is the average weather condition (e.g. average temperature) over time. Climate change is a change in the typical or average weather of a region or city. This could be a change in a region’s average annual rainfall, for example, or a change in a city’s average temperature for a given month or season. Under normal conditions, a range of weather conditions that deviate from averages (e.g. severe, extreme storms) can exist. Such extremes are not necessarily related to climate change.

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By Glenn Ahrens, OSU Forestry and Natural Resources Extension Agent – Clackamas, Marion, & Hood River Counties

As a forester, I need a basic understanding of local climate to guide site-specific decisions –decisions like what species to grow and how many trees per acre to plant. With all the ongoing studies of climate change, I have been looking for practical information relevant to climate and trends affecting forests in Oregon. At an Extension Forestry conference in 2006 in Fairbanks, Alaska, I learned that increased temperatures over recent decades in Alaska had noticeably extended the growing season, melted permafrost, and exacerbated recent forest fires. This stimulated me to learn more about climate science related to my location in Oregon, where I had not really noticed any warming trends amidst the year to year variation in the weather.

How has the climate changed in Oregon? What are anticipated future changes? How might this affect forest management decisions? Continue reading

By Max Bennett, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension Agent – Jackson & Josephine Counties

The term “climate variability” gets used a lot, but what does it mean? And how does climate variability relate to “climate trends” and “climate change”?

In this article we’ll look at climate variability and trends through the lens of long term snowfall at Crater Lake National Park, as well as precipitation and drought patterns in Medford, Oregon. As a forester working in southern Oregon, I’m very interested in rainfall, drought and snowpack, which influence things like fire danger, forest health, and stream flows. Continue reading

By Amy Grotta, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension Agent – Columbia, Washington & Yamhill Counties

In this series, our goal is to discuss how woodland owners and managers might want to think about the management decisions we make in light of anticipated climate change. To do that, we need to understand what’s potentially in store. What are the future climate projections for our region, and how do they differ from what we are accustomed to? What is the relationship between climate and weather? That’s what this article aims to address. Future articles will dive into how these changes might affect our forests, and how we can respond. Continue reading