Existing Forest Vegetation Mapping
The LEMMA team (PNW Research Station and Oregon State University, based at the Corvallis Lab) provides maps of existing forest vegetation that are one component of the landscape stratification used in ILAP scenario modeling. Detailed maps of forest composition and structure are developed using gradient nearest neighbor (GNN) imputation (Ohmann and Gregory 2002). GNN uses multivariate gradient modeling to integrate data from regional forest inventory (FIA and CVS) and other field plots with satellite imagery and mapped environmental data. A suite of fine-scale plot variables is imputed to each pixel in a digital map, and regional maps can be constructed for many of the same vegetation attributes available for the plots. Nonforest areas are mapped using ancillary data such as the National Land Cover Data and the Gap Analysis Program. All GNN map products are grid-based at 30-m spatial resolution, and span all land ownerships. Data are now available for most of Oregon and Washington, as well as parts of California. The GNN mapping was conceived as an ongoing program to monitor landscape change on a five-year mapping cycle, but future work depends on funding availability.
Research is an important component of this project. We are addressing research questions on:
- Statistical methods for spatial prediction;
- Landscape characterization (environmental and disturbance factors influencing patterns and dynamics of ecological communities); and
- Scaling and linking of vegetation maps to models of stand and landscape dynamics for regional analysis of management and disturbance effects.
The GNN modeling has relied on several collaborators and supporters, and GNN products are being used in a variety of research and management applications in addition to ILAP (see various project links on the LEMMA website. Most importantly, funding has been provided by the Western Wildlands Environmental Threats Assessment Center and Northwest Forest Plan Effectiveness Monitoring, the Forest Inventory and Analysis Program has provided plot data, and the Remote Sensing Applications Center has provided multi-scene Landsat imagery mosaics.
Contact: Janet Ohmann, US Forest Service
The Central Washington Landscape Analysis (CWLA)
This collaborative project between many organizations (U.S. Forest Service, the Yakama Nation, The Nature Conservancy, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife) materialized from the recognition that many eastern Washington forest issues are common to all landowners. The project goal is to address several questions of interest to all landowners that will spur additional cross-boundary collaboration. Questions this project will help address include:
- How has fire exclusion and past management changed the current condition of forests compared to conditions prior to about 1850, including changes in composition, structure, and fire hazard?
- What are the ecological and economic tradeoffs of different land management policy and management choices? For example:
- What are the impacts and outcomes for wildlife habitat, including habitat of the northern spotted owl and northern goshawk, under each scenario?
- How might the type of forest products change under each scenario?
- What might the flow of biomass be from different parts of the study area under different management scenarios? How sustainable is biomass flow likely to be?
- What are the impacts to carbon sequestration under different scenarios?
- How might the expansion of the wildland urban interface (WUI) and fire influence the sustainability of particular landscapes over time in terms of older forest structures, biodiversity and forest commodity production?
- How might stochastic events such as fire and insect outbreaks influence achieving desired landscape conditions and flows of benefits?
- What might forests in the study area landscape look like in the future under different management approaches?
Model completion: 07/31/09
Contact: Joshua Halofsky, WDNR
Olympic Peninsula VDDT Model Development
This project will begin in July 2009 and will create VDDT models for the entire Olympic Peninsula. Specific questions addressed by these models will be developed in collaboration with other land owners and managers on the Peninsula.
Model Completion: 12/31/2010
Contact: Joshua Halofsky, WDNR
Assessing plant vulnerability to climate change on the Olympic Peninsula through integration of process-based, niche-based and probabilistic vegetation models
The purpose of this study is to examine the influence of projected changes in temperature and precipitation, and associated changes in ecosystem disturbances such as fire and wind storms, on tree species distribution and forest composition on the Olympic Peninsula. Such information could inform projections of changes in wildlife habitat and cumulative impacts. In addition to ILAP members, other research collaborators include faculty from Oregon State University and the University of Washington, and scientists affiliated with the Fire and Environmental Research Applications (FERA) Pacific Northwest Research Station lab. Model Completion: 6/30/2011
Contact: Joshua Halofsky, WDNR
Cascade Timberlands Project
The conversion of land from uses such as forestry to rural and exurban development has implications for wildlife, local economies, and broad scale land development patterns, among other things. In central Oregon, two large areas of private forest (the Bull Springs and Gilchrist tracts) are currently for sale and might be developed for non-forestry uses in the future. A political and social debate about the future of important natural resources in the area hinges on the interactions of:
- the conversion of wildlands to developed areas,
- the rate at which development might occur, and
- the interactions of development with a variety of natural resource services and values.
As these two parcels sit on the verge of changing ownerships, the State of Oregon and private non-profit entities have contemplated the tradeoffs: should these organizations invest funds to purchase these tracts to forestall development? The Oregon Department of Forestry and Department of Land Conservation and Development asked the Pacific Northwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service, to examine the consequences of potential future land development, especially regarding these two tracts, and provide information that might help policy makers. We used simulation models to look at many different kinds of effects, but focused on changes in:
- Important wildlife habitat (particularly mule deer);
- Fforest products potentials, and;
- Forest conditions in terms of fuels and wildfire hazards. Future work will include examination of changes in several focal species habitats, aesthetics, recreation value, and local economics due to changes in forest products fluxes.
Contacts: Miles Hemstrom or Theresa Burcsu, US Forest Service