When the State of Oregon needed to increase revenue for outdoor recreation facilities and maintenance, they turned to Oregon State University for answers to their questions, and for scientific data to help inform their decisions.

A study completed by Randy Rosenberger, professor and College of Forestry Associate Dean for Student Success, connected outdoor activities on trails to health savings by utilizing and recalibrating a tool called the Outdoor Recreation Health Impacts Estimator. The tool was originally developed to focus on transportation decisions (walking, cycling or utilizing public transportation as opposed to driving) to estimate changes in life expectancy and quality of life.

The tool converts positive health effects into monetary unit, and even includes the cost of treating certain diseases as well as the loss of productivity illnesses cause.

The study became part of the 2019-2023 Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP).

“In my research, I quantify things that aren’t normally quantified,” Rosenberger says. “Things like recreation aren’t traded in markets with prices. They don’t have voices. This study gives them a voice, and I think through it, people are starting to realize that recreation is at the nexus of everything. It’s not just something we like to do if we have the time. It’s creating healthier communities and saving those same communities money on health services.”

Rosenberger replicated the study for the McDonald and Dunn Forests, two of the College Research Forests. The college owns more than 15,000 acres of working forests around the state that are utilized for research, outreach and education with some open to the public for recreation. He found that recreation on the Research Forests saved $754,395 in cost of illness savings in 2017 alone. This data can now be used by private and public agencies for planning, budgeting, assessment and grant applications.

By The Numbers

In 2017, the McDonald-Dunn College Research Forests saw 17,271 individual recreation visitors who accounted for more than 155,000 total visits.

McDonald-Dunn Recreation Activity

Walking/Hiking51.5%
Dog Walking19%
Running/jogging16%
Mountain Biking12%
Horseback riding/misc1.5%

Recreation visits to the McDonald and Dunn Forests resulted in $754,395 in cost of illness savings, or health benefits, associated with eight chronic illnesses; and accounted for 14 percent of the total health benefits estimated for all of Benton County ($5.4 million).

Did You Know?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends adults get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes per week of vigorousintensity aerobic physical activity.

60 percent of adults in Oregon meet this recommendation. 63 percent of adults in Benton County meet this.

A version of this story appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry. Learn more about College of Forestry research facilities and collaborations.

The story of Oak Creek: From storage facility to top-notch greenhouse

Visitors to the Oak Creek Greenhouse on Western Boulevard in Corvallis enjoy world-class technology and a variety of seedling studies – plants growing in just about every place one can look. But it wasn’t always like that.

When Assistant Professor Carlos Gonzalez-Benecke arrived at Oregon State in 2015, he toured all of the facilities that were available to him for research projects. One was the Oak Creek Greenhouse, but unfortunately, at the time, it could only facilitate small seedling studies due to the large amounts of timber and nursery materials stored there.

“Once I became oriented with my work here, I made revitalizing the greenhouse a priority,” he says.

Interim Dean Anthony S. Davis and a team of graduate students (Carson Alberg, Matthew Davis, Kaitlin Gerber, Rebecca Sheridan and Christina St. John) shared the vision for a functioning greenhouse that took advantage of all the space and potential the Oak Creek location offered. So, everyone worked together to quickly clean out the space.

Once the space was clear, Gonzalez-Benecke considered what greenhouse characteristics plants like Douglas-fir seedlings need to have to thrive while making the space as flexible as possible for a variety of uses. “Plants need resources to grow: water, nutrients and radiation,” Gonzalez-Benecke says.

Nutrients are easily provided by fertilizers, but Gonzalez-Benecke gave more thought to water and radiation.

“We wanted to be able to manipulate those factors,” he explains. “This is why we installed an extensive irrigation system, as well as fixing the roof that allows us to better adjust environmental conditions inside the greenhouse. We can provide more light or provide a total black out in certain sections of the greenhouse.”

The heating system and fans also manipulate factors including temperature, relative humidity and air movement.

The greenhouse hosts several research projects for the College of Forestry and the College of Agricultural Sciences.

“For our purposes, the greenhouse is perfect,” Gonzalez-Benecke says. “We are proud of it, and we are happy to be a resource for the college and the broader campus community. We invite visitors and members of the industry to come tour it.”

One of Gonzalez-Benecke’s Ph.D. students, Patricio Alzugaray, has a long-term study of Douglas fir seedlings at the greenhouse.

Seedlings can be produced in a wide array of containers, and Alzugaray is testing the benefits and disadvantages of using biodegradable, paper containers. The first phase of the study involved growing the seedlings inside the greenhouse and taking root morphology and physiology measurements.

In October 2019, Alzugaray outplanted the seedlings on five sites across the region. He will continue to monitor their growth and performance.

“It is invigorating to see the quality of research coming out of the Oak Creek Greenhouse, especially considering Oregon State’s historic strength in advancing forest regeneration,” Davis says. “Access to world-class facilities like this help our students and our faculty make discoveries that will sustain healthy forest landscapes in Oregon and beyond.”

A version of this story appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry. Learn more about College of Forestry research facilities and collaborations.

Five acres of Peavy Arboretum are filled with utility poles. But why?

“It’s our pole farm,” answers Senior Faculty Research Assistant Jed Cappellazzi. “We are growing them!”

He’s only joking, of course. Cappellazzi and fellow Senior Faculty Research Assistant Matthew Konkler co-facilitate the College of Forestry’s Utility Pole Research Cooperative, and the five acres of poles at Peavy Arboretum only make up a small piece of the cooperative’s unique, world-class research.

The co-op’s membership includes energy, chemical and timber companies from every region of the United States and some parts of Canada. Co-op members are happy to host researchers to study utility poles in use across the country, but there are many external factors affecting poles already in use.

“We don’t always know the history of these poles,” Cappellazzi says. “And they’re vulnerable to more external stimuli including things like car accidents. If something like that happened, we would lose all of our replication with the study we’re running.”

Konkler says that the five acres at Peavy Arboretum is different and well protected.

“That’s where we’re really free to experiment,” he says. “Our industry partners really appreciate the space because the weather at the Arboretum causes poles to deteriorate pretty quickly. So, even in the long-term studies we’re running, we’re able to get answers to their questions relatively quickly.”

The Arboretum has about 30 active studies. Studies began at that site when the first post installed on January 7, 1928. Some of the older poles still stand, although they are not being studied.

The utility pole co-op was founded in the 1980s and charged with developing fumigants to help preserve utility poles. Since then, its focus has changed and it now addresses a variety of wood related issues that improve the performance of wood, allowing poles to last longer and make utilities more competitive.

Assistant Professor Gerald Presley joined Oregon State in 2019 to oversee the co-op. He says its future is exciting.

“It’s great to be in a position to do applied research with wood-based products,” he says. “Wood utility poles are an essential part of our national infrastructure and have advantages over steel alternatives. Not least among these is that they are a renewable resource grown and manufactured right here in Oregon and throughout the Pacific Northwest.”

Chemical leaching and fire mitigation are a few of the next big issues in the industry that the co-op plans to tackle in Peavy Arboretum and beyond.

“When it comes down to it, we’re trying to protect the investment of wood poles,” Konkler says. “We do our best to look comprehensively at the forest and wood products industry to understand everything that goes into creating, establishing and maintaining these poles.” •

A version of this story appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry. Learn more about College of Forestry research facilities and collaborations.

Michael Paul Nelson, Ruth H. Spaniol Chair of Renewable Resources in the College of Forestry, says many may not realize how much research is conducted on the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest.

Researchers throughout Oregon State University, across the state, and around the world conduct research at the forest. Long-Term Ecological Research Program Coordinator Lina DiGregorio explains the research conducted on the Andrews Forest is broad.

“We aren’t a specific lab that studies a single area of the forest,” she says. “Our program involves faculty from across the college, the university, the Forest Service and all over the country and world.”

First established in 1948 as a U.S. Forest Service Experimental Forest, the Andrews Forest is an approximately 16,000-acre ecological research site in Oregon’s western Cascades Mountains. Supported by Oregon State University and the U.S. Forest Service, the research program is part of the Long-Term Ecological Research network, funded by the National Science Foundation. Nelson says the work is important and, at times, surprising.

He nicknamed the interesting research done at the Andrews Forest, ‘the ecology of surprise.’

“There are surprises about how complex our system is, but also how theory or observations elsewhere suggest one thing, and over time, we find quite another.”

For example, Professor Emeritus Mark Harmon initiated a study at the forest related to log decomposition of large trees. The long-term study started about 35 years ago and found that some trees could take around 200, and even up to 800 years, to fully decompose.

“That’s surprising because fewer than two percent of all ecological studies last even five years,” Nelson says. “The idea of a group of scientists conducting a study for 200 years is audacious.”

Nelson says it’s similarly surprising that the number of living cells and types of living organisms is greater on dead trees than on living trees.

Another study that led to surprising results was one led by Assistant Professor Catalina Segura and Associate Professor Dana Warren. The two researchers work in different departments within the College of Forestry, and Warren is duel-appointed to the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife in the College of Agricultural Sciences. Working at the Andrews Forest brought them together.

The pair discovered that a small creek known as Cold Creek produces over 15 times the amount of water equivalent to its topographic drainage area. It appears that this water is received at high elevation and “funneled” through porous lava flows.

“Before this study, we knew the water was cold, but we didn’t know why,” Nelson says. “The isotopic signature is unique from the other creeks and streams as well, and its flow is steady, even throughout the summer in dry conditions.”

Nelson’s hope is the research that surprises and delights scientists continues, and that the public understands what an important resource the Andrews Forest is to forests and communities.

“I want people to have a ‘wow response,’ when they think about the forest and our research,” Nelson says. “I want them to recognize how special and unique it is. I want people to know about and be proud of the work that’s happening in this place. The science that happens in the Andrews Forest will inform decisions for land managers world-wide.”

A version of this story appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry. Learn more about College of Forestry research facilities and collaborations.

As hikers trek through Oak Creek, they might notice its beautiful, crystal clear water, or Douglas-firs that line the banks. But when Assistant Professor Catalina Segura looks at Oak Creek, she sees something iconic – something famous in her world of stream geomorphology.

“I knew about Oak Creek before I knew about Oregon State University or Corvallis,” she says. “It’s famous because of the work done there. A very impressive data set was collected there in the late 60s and early 70s. There’s not much else like it in the world.”

Segura now feels privileged to conduct her own research, related to primary production in streams, at this site.

Segura says primary production provides the fundamental source of energy for life on earth, and therefore understanding what controls primary production is key to understanding ecosystems. Most of the primary production in streams like Oak Creek come from algae that lives on rocks. That’s why it’s crucial to understand how the movement of rocks in the stream bottom interacts with algae locally and throughout the stream’s reach.

Segura works with Associate Professor Dana Warren on a project funded by the National Science Foundation. Two sites are being compared: Oak Creek and Mill Creek, a tributary of the Siletz River in the Coastal Range.

Segura says the rocks in each of these streams are very different. The rocks in Oak Creek are basalt and coarser, while the rocks in Mill Creek are sandstone and finer.

The researchers, together with graduate student Samantha Cargill, collected data on oxygen and used that to model the amount of primary production by algae on rocks.

“Now that we understand what happens during storm events in the winter when the water runs quickly and the rocks in the bottom move frequently, we can think about seasonal variability. We have a new post-doctoral fellow, Sandra Villamizar, who will take the project in this new direction.” In the meantime, several sensors for this project remain in Oak Creek. They are monitored intermittently. Segura also takes her classes to Oak Creek so undergraduate and graduate students can observe the research happening there.

“I tell my students about how we collect data and take them to those locations. We look at flow measurements and do a few different labs in the forest,” she says. “Logistically, I appreciate how convenient it is. You can visit Oak Creek as frequently as you want, and it makes it easy to integrate teaching and research.”

Segura says there are also benefits to Oak Creek being inside a managed forest, managed by the College of Forestry.

“The forest director, Professor Stephen Fitzgerald, has helped facilitate our research by doing things like restricting access to the stream at sensitive times,” she says.

The other study area near the Siletz was also convenient. It is located partially on tribal land, and partially on Weyerhaeuser property.

“Last year we were able to host high school students and teachers through the SMILE: Science Math Investigative Learning Experience program,” Segura says. “We trained the teachers in different modules to take back to their classes, and that was very gratifying. It’s amazing that so many people can benefit from the interesting work we’re doing thanks to our location.”

A version of this story appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry. Learn more about College of Forestry research facilities and collaborations.

The Stay at Home lecture series started with Dr. Ashley D’Antonio’s lecture on “Recreation Science in our National Parks.” Over half of the United States population participates in outdoor recreation activities like mountain biking, snowshoeing and hiking!  In 2014, the National Park Service hosted 294 million visitors, and visitations continue to increase. As she mentions in her talk, balancing recreation and ecosystem protection is becoming critically important.

Watch the video of Ashley D' Antonio's presentation.

Listen to Ashley’s lecture to learn how she has helped inform management of our national parks and other protected areas! If you are interested in working in critical fields that balance the needs of ecosystems and society, Oregon State University offers undergraduate degrees in tourism, recreation, and adventure leadership and natural resources, and provides a broad range of graduate opportunities.

—————– Dr. Ashley D’Antonio is the Gene D. Knudson Forestry Chair and an assistant professor of nature-based recreation.  She studies outdoor recreation science and how recreation science can be used to help inform management of our National Parks and other protected areas.

Oregon State University and the College of Forestry has created a new endowment based on a major donation from the Institute of Forest Biosciences, formerly the Institute of Forest Biotechnology.  

To honor the Institute’s long legacy of identifying ecologically and socially responsible paths for the use of biotechnologies in forestry, the donation will be used to create the Institute of Forest Biosciences Endowment for Forest Biotechnology and related Biosciences. 

Based on the wishes of the donors, the earnings from the endowment will be used to fund travel by students and early career scientists to present their work at national and international conferences.

After recently ceasing operation, the Institute donated its remaining funds to OSU in recognition of the work of the college and the career of Distinguished Professor Steve Strauss, who has had a long association with the Institute. 

As a collaborator and advisor, Strauss’ association with the Institute included hosting conferences, writing publications, and serving as Chair of the Science Committee for the Forest Health Initiative. The initiative focused on restoration of the American Chestnut and was organized in close association with the Institute. 

Strauss was also the first scientist to be recognized by the Institute as “Forest Biotechnologist of the Year,” which over time recognized several of the leading forest biotechnology scientists from around the globe. He received the honor for his work for that combines outstanding science with work to advance application and engagement with society around forest biotechnologies. 

Thinking about planning on the landscape level can be overwhelming for forest managers. To help understand the complexities of land management and decision making, a collaborative team of Oregon State University researchers, the United States Forest Service, state agencies and private land owners worked together to help tailor a simulation modeling program called Envision.

The software was developed by a team led by John Bolte, professor and department head of Biological and Ecological Engineering in the College of Agricultural Sciences. It is an integrated modeling platform for coupled human and natural systems analyses.

The open source, GIS-based tool is helpful for planning and environmental assessments. It uses graphs, maps and data to demonstrate how landscape processes interact and how vegetation may change over time. For example, data can spatially depict where wildfire, prescribed fire, thinning and succession may occur over time under different land  management scenarios. If land managers are interested in a specific model output, such as dense forest habitat, timber volume or homes affected by wildfire, this can be summarized graphically.

Restoration fire in the Deschutes National Forest

OSU Research Associate Ana Barros, Senior Faculty Research Assistant Michelle Day, Assistant Professor Meg Krawchuk, and Forest Service partners collaborated and utilized the software to model wildfire and forest management scenarios on the Deschutes National Forest. The work included taking a look at the impact of restoration wildfire. These are wildfires caused by lightning that ignite in low risk areas when the weather conditions are mild. They are managed to help achieve forest restoration goals such as reducing understory fuels or thinning dense forests.

“What happens if we have more restoration fire?” asks Barros. “We want to explore this idea of letting wildland fire do some of the work we need to do in terms of restoration.”

The group modeled fires in the Deschutes National Forest and looked at factors like smoke, habitat for species like the northern spotted owl, and how much restoration can accomplish in terms of preventing devastating and out-of-control wildfire.

Modeling like this allowed the team to identify tradeoffs including cost, smoke and safety to help make science-based recommendations to land managers. Results suggested that, although there are trade-offs, restoration wildfire can improve forest resilience and contribute to restoration efforts in fire-adapted forests.

“Restoration fire is not a magic solution,” Barros says. “But it does improve resilience in forests.”

Collaborative forest management in Eastern Oregon

Oregon State, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station (PNW), took Envision to land managers and communities in Eastern Oregon.

In a project funded by the college’s Institute for Working Forest Landscapes and the PNW, a research team worked with managers and forest collaborative stakeholders to test how different management strategies might yield different future landscape outcomes for wildfire, fish and wildlife, timber production and other important values.

The collaborative groups the team worked with, including the Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project and the Lakeview Stewardship Group, were able to apply the results of the modeling to their dialogue and decision-making processes.

“The model provided a good conversation starter when looking at a specific area and how it fits into the larger landscape,” says Emily Jane Davis, assistant professor and extension specialist. “This type of data can help make forest management decisions more effective by aiding discussions about current conditions, future choices and outcomes.”

A version of this story appeared in the spring 2019 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry. Learn more about college research here

TallWood Design Institute reaches out

Based at the College of Forestry at Oregon State University, the TallWood Design Institute (TDI) is the nation’s leading research collaborative focused on the advancement of structural wood products and mass timber design.

The institute represents a unique interdisciplinary partnership between OSU’s Colleges of Forestry and Engineering and the University of Oregon’s College of Design. The institute is at the forefront of mass timber research and real-world relevance. Its core tenets are the importance of industry collaboration, through outreach, education and feedback from professionals.

“Our goal is to conduct meaningful research and engage with the building community to help validate and highlight how these products and building systems work,” says Outreach Coordinator Evan Schmidt.

During FY 2017 and 2018, TDI focused on outreach by developing avenues of collaboration with community partners including product development, testing with manufacturers, educational seminars for students and designers and applied research projects with engineering firms.

Connecting with industry

TDI worked with the Freres Lumber Company in Lyons to test and develop an entirely new engineered wood product, mass plywood panels (MPP), in 2017 and 2018. TDI funded the second-phase of Freres’s testing, and continuing work with Freres includes optimizing MPP’s layup through modeling, structural testing, life cycle analysis, acoustics and architectural design applications.

MPP, like CLT, can be used as a substitute for conventional building materials. Now certified by the APA for structural use, MPP was installed for the first time in the U.S. as sheathing on Oregon State’s new A.A. “Red” Emmerson Advanced Wood Products Laboratory in Corvallis.

“We are a good example of a family business working within our rural community to come up with something new and innovative,” Tyler Freres says. “It’s also been great to have the experts and the researchers at OSU and the TallWood Design Institute working with us on this project. We have a very close relationship, and appreciate all the extra hands involved in producing MPP.”

Advanced wood products for the next generation

Judith Sheine, TDI’s director of design and professor of architecture at the University of Oregon, focuses on another application for MPP. MPP-based modular construction was the focus of her most recent undergraduate architecture and engineering design studio. Focusing on mass timber applications allowed Sheine to partner with Modular Building Systems and Clackamas County to discuss a partnership project using MPP for Oregon highway rest stops.

The modular MPP project isn’t the first time Sheine’s mass timber design studio has resulted in a public-private partnership. SRG Architecture and KPFF Engineering worked intimately with TDI and the City of Springfield on a CLT parking garage after it was the focus on of Sheine’s studio classes in 2016.

Architects and engineers across the United States have expressed interest in creating similar structures. Lane County has also participated in the design studio process, and hopes to build its new court house from mass timber based on one of the award-winning designs that came out of the classroom.

Schmidt says he’s excited about continuing to engage with TDI’s industry partners.

“Research advancing mass timber is a time sensitive effort,” he says. “The private sector moves at a different pace and under different logistics than academia, so it’s essential that we continue to engage the design community. That’s what keeps us relevant, while our research is what lends credence to mass timber as a solution.”

New facilities will aid industry tests

TDI’s access to state-of-the-art testing facilities helps it accomplish its innovative research. The new A.A. “Red” Emmerson Advanced Wood Products Laboratory builds on the strengths of existing facilities. The lab is scheduled for completion in summer 2019, and will have both a three-story structural testing bay, as well as an advanced manufacturing lab. In addition to research applications, the manufacturing lab will contain a hands-on educational space for students, skilled workers and design professionals looking to learn more about mass timber applications.

Another research space in the design and development phase is a full-scale acoustic-testing facility that will be built in the Willamette Valley. The lab will be one of only a few certified acoustics testing facilities along the West Coast, and will offer TDI’s industry partners the opportunity to rapidly test and prototype mass timber assemblies based on their acoustic properties. The lack of a facility like this is often a limiting factor when it comes to utilizing mass timber, and TDI is excited to fill that gap for its industry partners.

Portland meetups a success

Part of TDI’s outreach approach includes holding educational and networking events geared toward bringing various stakeholders together to learn, collaborate and problem solve all things mass timber. To accomplish this, TDI hosts a monthly event in Portland called ‘Mass Timber Meetups.’ These are casual, network-focused events that are designed to stimulate discussion on a specific subject within the world of mass timber.

“We discuss topics like acoustics, fire, building information modeling (BIM) and more,” Schmidt says. “It’s a place where people who have worked with mass timber, or are just curious, can discuss their experience or ask questions.”

These conversations help to build a community around mass timber construction and educate construction professionals from a variety of areas. About 15-30 people from various backgrounds typically attend. These events are free and open to the public and will continue in 2019.

In March 2018, Oregon State hosted the inaugural Fire Summit in Portland. This event aimed to identify viable forest management practices that could help mitigate the risks and impacts of high-severity fire events in the West.

About 30 scientists, land managers and forest policy experts were in attendance. They came from five states and British Columbia, and represented six universities, seven federal land management agency offices, departments or research units, four private forestland management entities, and two cities.

The summit closed with a call to action from Oregon Governor Kate Brown.

“It has been a great opportunity for us to reflect on the challenges our region has faced and the challenges to come, to share best practices, exchange data and research and discuss insights we learn from fighting wildfires,”

Brown said. She went on to discuss the prevalence of wildfire in the West and the risk to communities, economies and livelihoods. Brown said that collaborations – like the Fire Summit – will be key in preventing devastating wildfires.

“By taking an ‘all-lands, all-hands’ approach and committing to work together across jurisdictional boundaries, we can sustain robust rural economies and preserve our natural resources for future generations,” Brown said.

Anthony S. Davis, interim dean of the College of Forestry agrees, “The Western USA is home to the world’s leading scientists who focus on fire on our landscapes. The Fire Summit was a unique opportunity for those scientists to interact with the policymakers who are asking for guidance in addressing this phenomenal challenge.”

The collective remarks of the panelists and speakers offered a big-picture perspective of the intertwined views of fire in the West, from the variety of jurisdictions, landscapes and vegetation types, and cultural experiences and expectations.

The experts compiled their feedback and made specific recommendations:

• Expand strategic use of commercial thinning, prescribed fires, and managed wildfire as forest management tools.

• Improve coordination across jurisdictions and ownership boundaries.

• Develop and implement cross-boundary ‘pre-fire response’ plans and strategies.

• Address inequities associated with liability for cross-boundary fires.

• Invest in data mapping, risk assessment, and applied research that directly supports cross-boundary management and suppression.

Oregon State officials recognize discussions like this are critical for encouraging stakeholder engagement when it comes to wildfire issues.

Work is also underway to identify opportunities to directly and regularly inform federal elected officials and staff in Washington, D.C., about summit outcomes and subsequent efforts. Direct dialogue and discussion of the opportunities for real progress is an important goal of Summit participants seeking to inform policies designed to help mitigate the risks and impacts of high-severity fire events in the West.

“The scale of our fire problem is likely measured in decades and centuries, not a handful of years, and across millions of acres, not localized forests and landscapes,” says Davis. “To address this serious challenge, we have to step out of our own way and not go back to the false promise of landscape stability maintained through unsustainable practices. The Fire Summit served to bring the widest range of partners to the table for a first conversation in this direction.”