U.S. Forest Service R&D Newsletter - April 2018
News from the Washington Office and Research Stations


A USDA Forest Service review explores the influence on human stress of outdoor activities such as nature viewing, outdoor walks, outdoor exercise, and gardening. The report provides convincing evidence that spending time outside--especially in places with green space--improves both heart rate and blood pressure, helping to reduce stress and boost overall health.
Since 2010, about 129 million trees have died in California’s national forests due to conditions caused by climate change, unprecedented drought, bark beetle infestation and high tree densities. As a result, many hazard trees exist in and around communities. R&D's work with the National Forest System to address tree mortality in California is presented in multimedia materials on drought, bark beetles, wildfire risks, wildlife management and restoration strategies.
Forest Service researchers studied abandoned land, vegetation regrowth, and community recovery after Hurricane Katrina in eight New Orleans neighborhoods. Results indicate that non-native, invasive trees were more common in areas with higher proportions of non-white residents, which the researchers attributed to uneven implementation of recovery and resettlement programs.
The Forest Service is working with the American Forest Foundation, GreenBlue, the Environmental Systems Research Institute, and other diverse partners to develop a mapping tool called Forests in Focus. The tool will assess the sustainability of family-owned forests and inform the sustainability strategies of companies that source wood fiber.

As the world's first multi-use elevated trail, “The 606” extends 2.7 miles through diverse neighborhoods that have some of the least open space per person in Chicago. Forest Service scientists are providing information about the trail’s use to help the Trust for Public Land maintain safe experiences for users, design maintenance plans, and document the multiple public benefits of trail development.
Forest Service scientists surveyed mature and old-growth trees in Mount Rainier National Park in Washington to investigate how a combination of climate and competition affects tree growth. Their results suggest that changes in climate will likely increase individual tree growth most in uncrowded areas that are characterized by less competition.

A video by the Forest Service and the Western Forestry Leadership Coalition explains how healthy fire can provide ecological benefits and decrease unplanned fire risk, and reveals why fires in the West are unique.
Resource managers traditionally map biophysical forest data without including relevant social science data. A Forest Service social scientist and colleagues are using in-person mapping exercises and workshops to develop maps depicting the diversity and intensity of human-resource interactions.
The Republic of Palau, an archipelago of over 500 islands in the western Pacific Ocean, has become the latest addition to the Smithsonian Institution's Forest Global Earth Observatory Network. Its induction was made possible by forest inventory research from the Forest Service's Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry. This inventory research also led to the discovery of a new tree species, Osmoxylon ngardokense.
Susannah Lerman, a Forest Service research ecologist, explains on the March 30th episode of Science Friday how to attract more native bees to your backyard. The episode also featured the author of a book chronicling the lives and challenges facing native North American bees.
Experimental forests are available for all Forest Service station-level scientists and their partners to conduct research, but many scientists aren't aware of the opportunities they provide. In February, the Southern Research Station hosted its second experimental forest tour, showing scientists 11 of its 19 forests.
As part of the annual conference of the American Society for Environmental History in Riverside, California, Forest Service historian Dr. Lincoln Bramwell helped educators review issues facing fire researchers and managers in Southern California by co-leading a tour of the Southern California Geographic Coordination Center and the San Bernardino National Forest.
The Forest Service manages some of the best, and in some cases only, habitat for many valuable and culturally important fish and aquatic resources—including habitat for more than half of federally-listed freshwater fish, mussels, and amphibians. Fishing, boating, and other aquatic activities benefit communities economically, socially, and culturally. (Scroll down for related infographic.)

The agency’s sustainable approach to managing healthy watersheds and aquatic habitat supports these vital recreational and commercial economies. The Forest Service recently completed an updated national fish and aquatic strategy titled Rise to the Future: National Fish and Aquatic Strategy .
Recent Blogs

Tests of two-story cross-laminated timber (CLT) structures show the material can survive blasts large enough to cause lethal injuries. This demonstrates CLT's potential for use in military construction projects.

The USDA Forest Service Forest Taxation and Estate Planning Program helps private forest landowners, foresters, loggers, and timber businesses navigate the new federal tax code.

John Pye manages the computer systems that help make Forest Service Research and Development tick.

Cindy Miner serves as assistant station director for the Pacific Northwest Research Station, where she focuses on strategic communications.