A McIntire-Stennis supported project

Early seral, or young forests are an important part of the landscape and ecological makeup of the Pacific Northwest. Understanding how contemporary post-fire forest management on federal lands and the intensification of forest management on private lands affects young forests is critical for characterizing their biodiversity. Recent fire years and a growing demand for wood and fiber amplify the need to understand variability in early seral forest biodiversity in the region.

Oregon State University Associate Professor Meg Krawchuk and Doctoral student Graham Frank are researching what happens to biodiversity in young forests as a result of different types of stand-replacing events, including intensive forest management, high-severity wildfire, and post-fire salvage logging.

Krawchuk and Frank are using a suite of biodiversity indicators including pollinator bees, carabid ground beetles, bird communities, plant communities, and forest conditions to compare biodiversity at various sites in young Douglas-fir forests in southwestern Oregon. They are quantifying how biodiversity changes over time in the three disturbance treatments – by looking at stands of different ages, from under six years old up to 20 years old. Recent years of extensive fire in the Pacific Northwest underscore that forest industry professionals must increasingly make decisions about early seral forest management in the context of post-fire environments, in addition to green tree harvesting. These decisions are relevant to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative certification, which requires managers to demonstrate how practices contribute to maintaining biological diversity. This project will help inform forest practitioners and decision-makers about biodiversity in young forests, with a particular focus on understanding the degree to which plantation forestry emulates its nearest natural counterpart – wildland fire.

This research project will provide forest managers with information about how different types of stand-replacing disturbances affect biodiversity in young forests. This will offer valuable insights for making decisions about how to manage both industrial and federal lands.

Oregon State University is collaborating with forest industry partners in the region, the United States Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, and The National Council for Air and Stream Improvement.

About McIntire-Stennis
The McIntire-Stennis program, a unique federal-state partnership, cultivates and delivers forestry and natural resource innovations for a better future. By advancing research and education that increases the understanding of emerging challenges and fosters the development of relevant solutions, the McIntire-Stennis program has ensured healthy resilient forests and communities and an exceptional natural resources workforce since 1962.

Jessica Hightower is a post-doctoral scholar in the department of forest ecosystems and society, and was one of the leaders of the faculty-led international program Oil Palms and Orangutans: Forest Conservation in Malaysian Borneo.

Students on an early morning bird walk at Deramakot

Tell me a little about the Borneo program – what types of activities did you engage in, what kind of students participated, etc
The Borneo program offers an opportunity to learn more about the unique flora and fauna of Borneo and the threats to their conservation. We visited popular eco-tourism spots, logged forests, oil palm plantations, and undisturbed tropical forests. We spoke to people living in these communities and learned more about what these forests mean to them and what they are doing to protect and restore their forests. We also learned more about oil palm, exploring a truly complex issue. Activities included plenty of opportunities for wildlife sightings, including night drives, birding walks, and boat rides, but also included time to talk to people in the community and learn more about their lives. Our last program had a wonderfully diverse cohort, which really strengthened the program. We had both on-campus and online students- the on-campus students were able to share their on-campus learning experiences, while the online students came from all over the US (and even abroad) and contributed their own unique experiences and perspectives. It was a great opportunity for on-campus students to expand their network, while online students were able to establish a sense of community with their peers that can be difficult to do over a screen.

Why were you interested in participating?
My dissertation research was in Borneo, where I investigated how logging and conversion to oil palm impacts bird communities. While I was out in the field I would daydream about how great it would be to bring students over for a study abroad course. While I worked there I lived in a state of constant amazement over the flora and fauna of Borneo and I wanted to share the experience with others. When I moved to Oregon and began working in the department of forest ecosystems and society at OSU, I was offered the opportunity to co-teach the Borneo program, which really was a dream come true!

What is one memory that sticks out?
So many that it is hard to pick! The night drives at Deramakot were a personal favorite and it was exciting to share the experience with the students, instructors, and guides. Going out to look for wildlife is always an adventure, but the sense of adventure is multiplied when you go out at night, driving through beautiful tropical forests with all the accompanying sights, smells, and sounds. Our first night drive we lucked out with an abundance of wildlife; we saw giant flying squirrels, slow loris, and palm civets. But we hit the jackpot with a binturong feeding far up in the canopy. We thought nothing could top that, but then one of the students spotted a colugo (look it up, they’re crazy!) and we got to watch it glide between trees. As we were riding that high and returning to camp around midnight our luck continued and we wrapped up the night with a leopard cat! It was during that drive that some of the students discovered they had a knack for spotting difficult to see wildlife at night!

What advice do you have for students thinking about going on one of our faculty-led international programs?
Have an open mind towards new experiences. It is great to prepare, but leave your expectations behind and be ready to adapt. Traveling abroad is one of the greatest ways to build confidence and discover just how much you can accomplish. The faculty-led international programs offer the experience of traveling abroad, but the knowledge and structure to really immerse yourself in an incredible learning experience.

Anything else you would like to share?
I was really impressed with how much students do and see on the Borneo program. Some people (like me) have worked in Borneo for multiple field seasons and never get to visit some of the places this program takes students. It is a whirlwind of an adventure and you will want to stay at each location for much longer than the time allotted, but it is truly amazing the amount of ground we covered. It was a life changing experience for both the students and instructors.

Heesung Woo recently joined the College of Forestry as an Assistant Professor of Advanced Forestry in the forest engineering, resources and management department. He is a dedicated researcher in the field of forestry and information technology, originally from South Korea. He holds two masters degrees, one in forestry and forest management from Kangwon National University, South Korea, and another in forest engineering from Humboldt State University in California, USA. His academic journey has been driven by a keen interest in the application of information and communication technology (ICT) techniques in forestry to enhance data quality and operational efficiency.

Tell us about your background – what drew you to your specialty area?
During my masters programs, I became deeply intrigued by the potential of ICT in forestry. This led me to pursue a Ph.D. in information technology at the University of Tasmania in Australia. My doctoral research focused on value chain optimization through the integrated use of ICT techniques in the forest supply chain. After completing my Ph.D. program, I had the privilege of receiving national research funding in South Korea. This funding allowed me to embark on an exciting project aimed at developing a multi-functional forest vehicle equipped with robotic, LiDAR, and vision sensors. This project aimed to gather crucial data for forest management through advanced technology. My primary and enduring research interest is centered around the development of autonomous forest machinery systems. I am driven to contribute to the advancement of robotics and automation technologies to enable efficient and sustainable forest management. My specific focus involves the design, construction, and optimization of autonomous machines capable of performing various tasks, including tree harvesting, thinning, and transportation.

What courses will you teach / labs will you lead?
Based on my research background and experiences, I want to teach and lead a lab related to forest operation and harvesting, advanced forestry, forest robotics application, ICT and sensors application in forestry, supply chain optimization.

What are your favorite hobbies?
My favorite hobby is cooking. I am happy to share my food with my family and friends.

Anything else you would like to share?
Currently, there is a significant demand for ICT applications in forestry. Drawing from my research background, I possess a strong foundation in both forestry and ICT technologies. I aspire to serve as a valuable bridge between the realms of forestry and ICT.

Steven Kontra is a graduate student in wood science and engineering, specializing in structural engineering. This summer he participated in the International Conference on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) in Chile.

What surprised you most during your travels? Why?
During my travels to Chile, what surprised me the most was the striking contrast between the vibrant urban life in Santiago and the serene coastal beauty of Viña del Mar and Valparaíso. I spent most of my time on the coast, and absolutely loved the colorful streets and unique artistic culture that helped reveal the rich history of the region.

How did your time abroad influence your thoughts on your field of study and/or career path?
Participating in the International Conference on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) in Chile was a transformative experience that deeply impacted my perspective as a student of structural engineering. This conference not only broadened my understanding of LCA but also underscored the vital importance of adopting a life-cycle mindset in design. Immersed in a new environment and surrounded by industry professionals who share this fervor, I gained a heightened appreciation for the implications of sustainable design choices that extend well beyond immediate project boundaries, but exert an influence on the environment and communities over time. This experience has reaffirmed my desire to integrate life-cycle principles into my future career in structural engineering.

If you had to pick one, what was your all-time favorite experience while abroad? Why was it so

The best memories I had on my trip were exploring the coastal cities surrounding Viña del Mar with my friends from the conference. Instead of an Uber, we opted to take the local bus system whenever possible, and immensely enjoyed the experience—though slightly chaotic at times. On these trips, we made many new local connections who offered suggestions of the best restaurants and attractions to visit which significantly enriched our adventure.

What advice would you give to students considering an international experience?
For students considering an international experience, I would highly recommend first connecting with international peers right within your own department. These international students are often well- traveled and have firsthand experience from various parts of the world—providing insights and perspectives that you won’t find online. In addition, having a network of international connections can be extremely beneficial when traveling abroad. As one of the friends in my research group is from Chile, he was able to connect me with his cousin who lived in Viña del Mar; this allowed me to stay for free while also significantly enriching my experience.

by Loren Kellogg

I have been working on the Lookout Fire, in the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, with my son, Scott. We have been there almost 50 days. Our work started out with help in building fire lines using our Ponsse harvester/forwarder. We have shifted to more reclamation work while the fire is being closely monitored. Most recently I was working on the division that is directly in the HJ Andrews. I found it real interesting looking at the fire coverage through the forest. I had a lot of thoughts of my OSU Forestry colleagues with all of their long term studies. I am hopeful that they will find that at least some of their research sites are still intact. I think that there will also be some exciting opportunities for establishing new research looking at the immediate ecological impacts from the fire and then follow the longer term vegetation development.

Working on the fire also brought back memories of George Brown and his early career days with watershed research. George conducted a state of the art watershed study in the 1960’s on the Andrews that evaluated soil and water impacts from “new” long span skyline logging with minimal roads compared with more conventional logging methods at that time. The long span skyline system involved unique technology from Switzerland (Wyssen system). I also later conducted commercial thinning research with Wyssen skyline carriage technology.

Loren Kellogg is an emeritus professor in the College of Forestry. Updates about the Lookout Fire can be found on the H.J. Andrews website.

David Hamilton is a Ph.D. student studying forest engineering and his research topic is electric logging trucks. He is beginning his third year and is an international student from Vancouver, BC, Canada. He is currently the CTO of a start up, Mauka Forestry Consulting, a forestry & GIS consulting company based out of Vancouver, Canada. This summer, he traveled to Merrit, BC, to collaborate with Edison Motors, the inventors of the first electric logging truck. This collaboration led him to write a paper on mapping electric logging truck range as a proof of concept for his tool using their truck schematics.

What is the focus of your Ph.D.?
Recent policy shifts have resulted in USA Pacific states encouraging the adoption of heavy-duty electrical vehicles (EVs). The state of California has mandated that by 2035 all heavy-duty non-freight vehicles must produce zero emissions. Similarly, Oregon has passed the Clean Trucks Rules requiring an increasing percentage of heavy-duty trucks to produce zero emissions, starting in 2024. To meet these policy requirements, automotive manufacturers have begun the mass production of EVs. This led to a 68% rise in global EV sales from 2017 to 2018. However, market penetration of heavy-duty EV trucks is still low compared to passenger EV penetration levels in the United States. Range anxiety driven by battery size limitations (capacity to weight ratio) and a lack of charging infrastructure is one factor hindering the adoption of EVs. I developed multiple tools for mapping electric log truck range across a forest landscape. The purpose of my tools are to help alleviate range anxiety amongst policy makers, truck manufacturers and buyers.

What did you work on this summer?
This summer I collaborated with OSU’s innovation team to develop a patent based on my research for the university. I was also awarded the dean’s international travel award to go to Canada and collect international educational harvest footage. While in Canada I traveled to Merrit, BC, to collaborate with Edison Motors, the inventors of the first electric logging truck. This collaboration led me to write a paper on mapping electric logging truck range as a proof of concept for my tool using their truck schematics.

What are the next steps?
This fall, John Sessions and I were awarded OSU’s $15,000 Accelerator Innovation and Development grant to improve my tool and implement it across a major forest owner’s land base. To achieve this, I will be collaborating with Edison motors and their clients in Canada and the USA. This grant will also fund a trade show booth along with Edison to promote collaboration and industry awareness. In September, Edison also deployed the first fully electric logging truck.

What do you do when you aren’t working on your Ph.D.?
My hands can rarely keep still when I’m not working on my Ph.D. I enjoy painting, playing music and games. I’m particularly fond of painting acrylic paintings and miniatures, the guitar and role-playing/strategy games. I also participate in the Corvallis Guitar Folk Society, lead the forestry grad student band, undercut, and plan various on and off campus social events. However by far my favorite activity is playing with my dog, Tango.

Podcast brings science-based information to woodland owners and managers.

When woodland owners encounter problems beyond their expertise, they often approach Oregon State University Forestry and Natural Resources Extension Service experts for help, either through email or phone or through professional Extension events like field days, workshops, seminars and short courses.

Those approaches can be limiting, though. Direct contact involves travel time for all involved and conflicting schedules and obligations mean some people can’t attend events.

In response, Lauren Grand, OSU Extension forester in Lane County, and her Extension colleagues created a podcast. Instead of having to be present at a certain time and place to reach a limited audience, Extension professionals present their educational content to an unlimited audience 24 hours a day, seven days a week, providing more people access to the information they want and need.

Twice a month, the “In the Woods” podcast shares stories and interviews with forest scientists, land managers and members of the public, communicating science-based and forest-related research. The podcast helps strengthen the forestry community, reaching both traditional and new audiences. While the traditional Oregon woodland owner is often older, listeners to “In the Woods” trend younger with 39% of listeners ages 28-34 and 26% ages 23-27. Reaching more young, urban, non-forest owners and natural resource professionals is in line with Extension’s mission of being accessible to all.

The podcast was one of the top 20% of podcasts shared globally on Spotify and the three highest-rated podcasts discussing water, soil and forest fungi. Half of listeners have, or plan to, adopt tips and skills they learned about in the episodes they’ve listened to. 75% of listeners report the podcast has improved their understanding of how research informs natural resource management.

A version of this story appeared in the 2021-2022 College of Forestry Biennial Report.

Prescribed fire training and education transforms rural residents’ relationship to fire and builds a foundation for effective landscape restoration.

For many Oregonians, fire means smoke, summer anxiety and blackened landscapes. With the increasing number and intensity or wildfires, the need to do something is urgent.

More than 1 million acres of land — many of them forest and wildlands — burned during the highly destructive wildfires of 2020. Clearing brush is essential to mitigating wildfire in Oregon, and one way to do this is through controlled burning — purposeful lighting of fire under ideal weather conditions, with safeguards in place. But controlled burning can be difficult for private landowners to implement.

The Oregon State University Extension Service, in partnership with the Rogue Valley Prescribed Burn Association, a cooperative composed of landowners and fire professionals, is doing work in the Rogue Valley to change perspectives and offer help through education and outreach.

To help normalize controlled burns, Chris Adlam, OSU Extension wildland fire specialist, is delivering hands-on learning opportunities, including live-fire trainings, workshops and conferences to help participants envision a better future dealing with fire.

This outreach has helped establish a new model for prescribed burning on private lands and has led to broader stakeholder involvement. With OSU Extension’s help, membership in the Rogue Valley Prescribed Burn Association has grown to include landowners, forest workers and wildland firefighters, including several federally qualified burn bosses, and attracted interest from collaboratives and community groups across the region.

North of the Rogue Valley, the day was gray and the skies threatened to open, but nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of the 20 trainees from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, who gathered in the Oregon State University Dunn Forest for lessons in prescribed fire.

The class — taught by OSU Forestry and Natural Resources Extension faculty — was a three-day learning experience for employees of NRCS, which consults with private landowners about land-use restoration solutions. In order to recommend prescribed fire, NRCS staff need to be certified.

Tom Snyder works in the Eugene NRCS field office and concentrates on oak woodland and savannah, a fire-adapted landscape that’s been shaped for thousands of years through intentional burning by the Indigenous peoples now known as the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians. Cultural burning supports wildlife habitat and plays an important part in the traditions, culture and Sovereignty of Tribes.

“We’ve been doing restoration without fire, which is the tool that created this landscape,” Snyder said. “We’ll be able to use fire in the future as part of our restoration methodology within the Willamette Valley.”

In most cases, according to Stephen Fitzgerald, Extension silviculture specialist and director of the OSU
College of Forestry Research Forests, landowners use heavy machinery, mowing, spraying and grazing to thin out overgrown land. Grazing is better than mowing because there’s no thatch buildup that remains as fuel for wildfires. But nothing beats fire.

“Fire recycles nutrients and causes a flush of growth. Then those plants support insects, which are important pollinators, and other wildlife,” he said.

Extension by the numbers
 -5381 educational presentations
 -1,140 consultations with Extension agents
 -7 extension agents carry out statewide fire program

A version of this story appeared in the 2021-2022 College of Forestry Biennial Report.

Assessing post-fire land management practices to improve recovery of soil health, vegetation and ecosystem services.

With the dramatic increase in wildfire activity in the western United States, post-fire land management has also increased to recoup economic value from burned forests, improve forest safety and expedite recovery and restoration of soil health, vegetation and forest and aquatic ecosystem functions.

However, limited research on post-fire land management strategies — like emergency stabilization, salvage logging or herbicide application — has led to uncertainty about the effectiveness of available management practices, particularly in relation to soil and water.

Professor Kevin Bladon is leading research to quantify the effects of wildfire and post-fire land management practices on soil physical properties, biogeochemical processes and vegetation recovery. He and his team hope to facilitate improved policy and management decisions that will reduce soil erodibility, improve soil nutrient availability and encourage vegetation regeneration in areas impacted by wildfires.

“Our research is occurring on the west side of the Oregon Cascade Mountains in collaboration with a range of landowners who have each approached post-fire land management differently,” Bladon said. “Our preliminary data has led to unexpected and conflicting results,” he added, “which indicates the need for additional research to inform the development of better decision support tools for land managers.”

A version of this story appeared in the 2021-2022 College of Forestry Biennial Report.

After a two-year COVID-19 hiatus, the College of Forestry was first out of the gate at Oregon State University to relaunch its international student programs.

Coordinating multiple international undergraduate and graduate student experiences, travel arrangements and academic details is no small feat. Adding a global pandemic to the mix? That adds a whole new level of stress and logistics.

But when the pandemic halted international travel, the International Programs team at the College of Forestry (Director Michele Justice, Manager Kerry Menn and Administrative Assistant Rona Bryan) rose to the challenge, shifting their focus to online engagement on a global scale. In 2021, the team hosted a virtual Future Forests workshop in partnership with the University of British Columbia and University of Helsinki, which drew over 500 viewers worldwide. Funded by the US Forest Service International Programs, the team also supported a cohort of 12 Peruvian students who completed the Master of Natural Resources program in an OSU-led project aimed at building capacity in the Peruvian forestry education sector.

In 2022, as travel restrictions lifted, the College of Forestry was first to relaunch their portfolio with five of the 11 programs offered university-wide originating from the college. Students embarked on exchange, study abroad and internship programs all over the world including Ireland, at Bangor University in Wales and at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. The Dean’s Tour resumed, and Dean DeLuca led a group to Finland and Sweden to learn about innovations in forestry and resource management.

Two new faculty-led programs also made their debut. The Salmon Coast: Forest + Resource Management for Sustainability in Canada launched on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The program introduced students to the interaction between sustainable forest management and Indigenous Knowledge.

Also new was the Land of the Long White Cloud: Ecosystems of New Zealand program. The popular Mountains to the Sea: Ecosystems of Chile program, in its fifth year, was relocated to Patagonia and hosted by a new university partner, Universidad Aysén de Chile.

“I returned from Chile with direction and hope,” said Maya Greydanus (‘23), a Forestry undergraduate specializing in forest restoration and fire option. “My time abroad influenced me to be more thoughtful and selfless in my planning. I now know I want to work towards reducing global waste, live like a citizen of an international community and seek out the humility of being a guest in another culture.”


A version of this story appeared in the 2021-2022 College of Forestry Biennial Report.