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Scientists & Staff

Robert G. Haight

Research Forester
People and Their Environments: Social Science Supporting Natural Resource Management and Policy
1992 Folwell Ave
St. Paul, Minnesota 55108
Phone: 651-649-5178

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Current Research

I am a native Californian who became interested in forestry and resource management while attending the University of California, Berkeley. My early experiences in northern California as a logger for a large forest products company and a silviculturist for the Plumas National Forest shaped my interest in public resource management policy and economics, and I earned a Ph.D. in forest management from Oregon State University in 1985. Since joining Forest Service Research in 1987, I have studied public policy issues involving the economics of wildlife protection, metropolitan open space protection, wildfire management, and invasive species management. My approach is to build models of resource management problems and use simulation and optimization methods to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative policies.

Research Interests

I am interested in the optimal control of invasive species and beginning to build and analyze models to help allocate scarce resources among the four invasive species management strategies: prevention, detection, control, and rehabilitation. I am aware of the inherent uncertainties of the invasion process and have promising ideas about how to model this uncertainty and measure its effects on resource allocation strategies.

Why This Research is Important

My work is important because public resource managers allocate significant resources to protect endangered species, open space, and forests from unwanted disturbances associated with urban development, wildfire, and invasive species. My work provides information to decision makers about the benefits and costs of alternative protection strategies.


  • Oregon State University, Ph.D. Forest Management, 1985
  • University of California, B.S. Forestry, 1978

Professional Organizations

  • Society of American Foresters
  • Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences

Featured Publications & Products

Publications & Products

National Research Highlights

Balanced Approach to Surveillance Reduces the Costs of Invasive Species Detection and Control (2012)
New planning tool helps organizations make decisions on where and how much money to spend on invasive pests detection programs

Cost of Potential Emerald Ash Borer Damage to United States Communities for 2009-2019 (2010)
Emerald ash borer (EAB), a nonnative invasive bark boring beetle discovered near Detroit, MI, and Windsor, Ontario, in 2002, is now found in fourteen states and two Canadian provinces (May 2010) and is causing widespread ash mortality in urban forests. NRS scientist Robert Haight was a member of a working group that assessed the economic impacts of non-native forest pests, including EAB.

Feedbacks Through the Land Market Affect Success of Open Space Conservation Policy (2012)
A new planning tool helps decide which land parcels to save

Improving the Deployment of Wildland Fire Suppression Resources (2013)
While managers typically aim to minimize the number of escaped fires, they have limited funds to acquire suppression resources or construct operating bases. A new computer model developed by Forest Service scientists helps managers evaluate and improve equipment and crew deployment by optimizing both seasonal deployment and daily dispatch decisions with an objective of minimizing the number of fire ignitions that do not receive a standard response subject to funding and capacity constraints. A standard response is defined as the required number of resources that must reach a fire within a maximum response time.

Municipal Cooperation in Managing Emerald Ash Borer Increases Urban Forest Benefits (2014)
The best approach to managing an emerald ash borer (EAB) infestation is to fight it like a human health epidemic. Just as epidemiologists cannot fight a flu epidemic city by city, EAB cannot be efficiently fought city by city. Better results are achieved through regional cooperation and implementation of treatment strategies.

Non-native Forest Pathogens Cost Homeowners Millions of Dollars Annually (2011)
Two big killers of residential trees--the oak wilt pathogen in the East and the sudden oak death (SOD) pathogen in the West cost homeowners millions of dollars annually. Millions are spent to treat, remove, and replant oak trees and millions are lost in property value where ever these diseases have spread. Forest Service researchers calculated economic costs and losses to homeowners and communities and found that programs to slow the spread of forest diseases such as oak wilt and sudden oak death provide important benefits, in terms of reduced expenditures and losses, to both homeowners and communities.

Protecting Habitat for Bats in the Face of Development Pressure (2013)
Wildlife managers and planners make their best estimates of where to purchase or acquire conservation easements on areas for habitat protection before they are developed. A new modeling framework developed by Forest Service scientists helps planners to select habitat reserves that wildlife populations need for food, shelter, and reproduction.

The Value of Urban Tree Cover (2013)
Forest Service researchers are estimating how much home buyers are willing to spend for greater neighborhood tree cover; and, the results for home buyers in the Twin Cities metropolitan area of Minnesota suggest an average homeowner is willing to spend hundreds of dollars for a 10 percent increase in neighborhood tree cover. This willingness to pay reflects a preference for tree-lined streets and the shading and aesthetic environment they offer, and it represents an important portion of the economic value of services associated with urban trees: the portion that contributes directly to tax bases.

Last updated on : 21-Dec-2015