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Northern Research Station

  1.  GTR-NRS-151.  Future forests of the northern United States.  Shifley, Stephen R.; Moser, W. Keith.    

The U.S. North - the 20 states bounded by Maine, Maryland, Missouri, and Minnesota - have a greater forest cover (42 percent of land area) and population density (194 people per square mile) than other large regions of the nation. Ecological, social, and economic changes anticipated over the next 50 years will profoundly affect future forest management needs and opportunities in the North. This report draws on data from numerous sources to analyze 13 scenarios that consider future forest change in response to assumptions about land-use change, economic change, greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, forest growth, forest harvest, and other factors. Results are organized using the Montreal Process Criteria and Indicator framework.


  2.  GTR-NRS-154.  The U.S. forest carbon accounting framework: stocks and stock change, 1990-2016.  Woodall, Christopher W.; Coulston, John W.; Domke, Grant M.; Walters, Brian F.; Wear, David N.; Smith, James E.; Andersen, Hans-Erik; Clough, Brian J.; Cohen, Warren B.; Griffith, Douglas M.; Hagen, Stephen C.; Hanou, Ian S.; Nichols, Michael C.; Perry, Charles H. (Hobie); Russell, Matthew B.; Westfall, Jim; Wilson, Barry T. (Ty).    

As a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United States annually prepares an inventory of carbon that has been emitted and sequestered among sectors (e.g., energy, agriculture, and forests). For many years, the United States developed an inventory of forest carbon by comparing contemporary forest inventories to inventories that were collected using different techniques and definitions from more than 20 years ago. Recognizing the need to improve the U.S. forest carbon inventory budget, the United States is adopting the Forest Carbon Accounting Framework, a new approach that removes this older inventory information from the accounting procedures and enables the delineation of forest carbon accumulation by forest growth, land use change, and natural disturbances such as fire. By using the new accounting approach with consistent inventory information, it was found that net land use change is a substantial contributor to the United States forest carbon sink, with the entire forest sink offsetting approximately 15 percent of annual U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. The new framework adheres to accounting guidelines set forth by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change while charting a path forward for the incorporation of emerging research, data, and the needs of stakeholders (e.g., reporting at small scales and boreal forest carbon).


  3.  GTR-NRS-158.  Urban tree mortality: a primer on demographic approaches.  Roman, Lara A.; Battles, John J.; McBride, Joe R.    

Realizing the benefits of tree planting programs depends on tree survival. Projections of urban forest ecosystem services and cost-benefit analyses are sensitive to assumptions about tree mortality rates. Long-term mortality data are needed to improve the accuracy of these models and optimize the public investment in tree planting. With more accurate population projections, urban forest managers can also plan for cycles of tree planting, death, removal, and replacement to achieve canopy cover goals. Analytical tools from demography, such as life tables and mortality curves, could be used to improve our understanding of urban tree mortality and longevity. Demographic approaches have been widely used in forest ecology to quantify population dynamics and project future changes in wildland systems. This report is a primer on demographic concepts applied to urban trees, with terms and analytical methods adapted to the cultivated urban landscape. We include an overview of the uses of urban tree mortality rate data for research and management, a summary of lessons learned from ecological monitoring in other systems, and a discussion of opportunities for long-term urban forest monitoring by researchers and practitioners.


  4.  RB-NRS-96.  Forest resources within the Lake States ceded territories 1980 - 2013.  Kurtz, Cassandra M.; Moser, W. Keith; Hansen, Mark H.; Gormanson, Dale D.; Hatfield, Mark A.; Sowers, Paul A.; Dockry, Michael J.; Emery, Marla R.; Woodall, Christopher W.; Walters, Brian F.; Domke, Grant M.; Gilbert, Jonathan; Wrobel, Alexandra.    

The Lake States ceded territories are the portions of northern Michigan, northeastern Minnesota, and northern Wisconsin that were ceded by tribes of the Ojibwe to the government of the United States of America in the treaties of 1836, 1837, 1842, and 1854. The tribes retain rights to hunt, fish, and gather in the 1837, 1842, and 1854 treaty areas. This report summarizes the results of a series of forest inventories in the region between 1980 and 2013. Inventory results show the region has 30.7 million acres of forest land with forests covering 65.3 percent of the total land area. Forest features reported here focus on the status of six species of trees (sugar maple, black ash, paper birch, northern white-cedar, hophornbeam, and balsam fir) that have special historic and cultural value to the Ojibwe, in addition to the standard reporting of volume, biomass, growth, removals, and mortality of all trees that are typically included in the state-level reports produced by the Forest Inventory and Analysis program of the U.S. Forest Service. Sections of this report also focus on carbon, standing dead trees, invasive plant species, and ground flora.


  5.  RB-NRS-97.  The forests of Southern New England, 2012.  Butler, Brett J.; Crocker, Susan J.; Domke, Grant M.; Kurtz, Cassandra M.; Lister, Tonya W.; Miles, Patrick D.; Morin, Randall S.; Piva, Ronald J.; Riemann, Rachel; Woodall, Christopher W.    

This report summarizes the U.S. Forest Service, Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) forest inventory data, collected from 2008 to 2012, for Southern New England, defined as Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Forests cover an estimated 5,128,000 acres or 59 percent of Southern New England?1,736,000 acres in Connecticut (56 percent of the State), 3,028,000 acres in Massachusetts (61 percent), and 364,000 acres in Rhode Island (55 percent). There was no substantial change in the area of forest land between the current, 2012, and the previous, 2007, FIA inventories. Nearly two-thirds of the forests of the region are privately owned and most of these forests are owned by families and individuals who own the land primarily for the amenity values their forests provide. Seventy-six species of trees were observed on the FIA inventory plots. Red maple is the most common species across the region, but eastern white pine, northern red oak, black oak, eastern hemlock, scarlet oak, and sweet birch are also common. Although the forests of the region are fairly healthy, there are several issues that are threatening them, including invasive plants and introduced pests. Also, human disturbances, such as development, are projected to have a substantial impact on the region and broad-scale natural disturbance, such as hurricanes, are other potential factors that will influence the future of the forests.


  6.  RB-NRS-98.  New York Forests, 2012.  Widmann, Richard H.; Crawford, Sloane; Kurtz, Cassandra M.; Nelson, Mark D.; Miles, Patrick D.; Morin, Randall S.; Riemann, Rachel.    

This report summarizes the second annual inventory of New York's forests, conducted in 2008-2012. New York's forests cover 19.0 million acres; 15.9 million acres are classified as timberland and 3.1 million acres as reserved and other forest land. Forest land is dominated by the maple/beech/birch forest-type group that occupies more than half of the forest land. The sound wood volume on timberland has been rising and is currently 37.4 billion cubic feet, enough to produce saw logs equivalent to 93.7 billion board feet. On timberland, the average annual growth in volume of live trees outpaced removals by a ratio of 2.1:1. The net change in volume averaged 1.1 percent per year. This report includes additional information on forest attributes, land use, forest fragmentation, forest ownership, forest health indicators, timber products, statistics, and quality assurance of data collection. Detailed information on forest inventory methods and data quality are available online at


  7.  RN-NRS-201.  Dominant-tree thinning in New England northern hardwoods?a second look.  Leak, William B.    

A dominant-tree thinning was conducted in 2003 in a 69-year-old even-aged northern hardwood stand, clearcut in about 1935, where a precommercial thinning study had been conducted in 1959. The 2003 commercial thinning concentrated on the removal of the early maturing, short-lived paper birch and aspen, the largest-diameter trees in the stand (hence the term "dominant-tree thinning"). Diameter growth rates after thinning, up to about 6 years per inch over the following 12 years, were acceptable although not greatly different from the unthinned plots. Basal area growth response was highly acceptable after thinning: about 2.3 ft2 per acre per year. Annual basal area growth was about negative 0.9 ft2 per acre on the unthinned plots. Understory development of beech and shrub species was dense under the thinned plots, and will require treatment/removal during the regeneration phase.


Copies still available

  8.  GTR-NRS-90ES.  Executive Summary: Forests of the Northern United States.  Shifley, Stephen R.; Aguilar, Francisco X.; Song, Nianfu; Stewart, Susan I.; Nowak, David J.; Gormanson, Dale D.; Moser, W. Keith; Wormstead, Sherri; Greenfield, Eric J.    

This executive summary provides an overview of the 200-page report, Forests of the Northern United States, which covers in detail current forest conditions, recent trends, issues, threats and opportunities in the forests in the 20 Northern States. It provides a context for subsequent Northern Forest Futures Project analyses that will forecast alternative future scenarios and their potential impacts on forests and people in the North. Facts and figures cited in this executive summary come from numerous publications and online databases; specific sources and many additional details are included in the full report.


  9.  GTR-NRS-90.  Forests of the Northern United States.  Shifley, Stephen R.; Aguilar, Francisco X.; Song, Nianfu; Stewart, Susan I.; Nowak, David J.; Gormanson, Dale D.; Moser, W. Keith; Wormstead, Sherri; Greenfield, Eric J.  202 p.  

Bounded by Maine, Maryland, Missouri, and Minnesota, the 20 Northern States have a larger population and a higher proportion of forest cover than other comparably sized U.S. regions. Forest-associated issues across the North include insect and disease pests, invasive species, forest management capacity, management standards, biodiversity, forest fragmentation, water quality, water quantity, output of forest products, recreation, and environmental literacy - all related to sustainability at local, State, and regional scales. This report uses the Montreal Process to summarize current conditions and recent trends in seven categories - biodiversity; forest productive capacity; forest ecosystem health; soil and water resources; forest carbon and biomass; long-term socioeconomic benefits; and the legal, institutional, and economic framework for sustainable management - and adds an eighth category to reflect the importance of urban and community forests to the Northern States. Since 1953, population in the North increased by 40 percent, forest area by 28 percent, and timber volume by 140 percent. The increases in forest area appear to be leveling off as urban expansion subsumes about 1.5 million acres of forest land per decade. Seventy-four percent of forests are privately owned, yet one acre in six is in some category of protected status. Forests are aging; and although total mortality for the region has been relatively stable in recent years, emerald ash borer and other invasive species are now poised to kill billions of trees. Forests supply 48 percent of the region's water needs and employ 441,000 in its forest products sector. Participation in a wide range of nature-based recreation activities is increasing at 10 to 20 percent per decade. These and many other characteristics of northern forests summarized in this report become interrelated on the North's forest landscapes, sometimes in complex ways. The information in this report provides a basis for ongoing, detailed discussions about these large-scale interactions and how they affect the sustainability of northern forests.


  10.  GTR-NRS-100.  Outdoor Recreation in the Northern United States.  Cordell, H. Ken; Betz, Carter J.; Mou, Shela H.; Gormanson, Dale D.  74 p.  

In the last two decades, the North's population grew at a considerably slower rate than the Nation as a whole. Nevertheless, this region's population is large and in all likelihood will continue to grow. This means greater development of land and water resources at the same time that there is growth in demand for outdoor recreation. This report looks at recent population trends and forecasts within the context of other U.S. regions, demographic composition of population, recreation participation by residents age 16 and older, trends in activities and time spent outdoors by its youth, and the changes occurring in recreation resources, both public and private. The region referenced here includes the area within the corner States of Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, and Maryland. Much of the research reported here ties to data, analyses, and findings developed for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service 2010 Renewable Resources Planning Act (RPA) Assessment (Cordell 2012) and how they affect the sustainability of northern forests.


  11.  GTR-NRS-120.  Outlook for outdoor recreation in the northern United States. A technical document supporting the Northern Forest Futures Project with projections through 2060.  Bowker, J.M.; Askew, Ashley E.  62 p.  

We develop projections of participation and use for 17 nature-based outdoor recreation activities through 2060 for the Northern United States. Similar to the 2010 Resources Planning Act (RPA) assessment, this report develops recreation projections under futures wherein population growth, socioeconomic conditions, land use changes, and climate are allowed to change over time. Findings indicate that outdoor recreation will likely remain a key part of the region's future social and economic fabric. The number of participants in 14 of the 17 recreation activities is projected to increase over the next five decades. In about two-thirds of 17 activities, the participation rate will likely decrease, but population growth would ensure increases in the number of adult participants. Some climate futures could lead to participant decreases for certain activities. Hunting, snowmobiling, and undeveloped skiing appear to be the only activities for which a decrease in participants is likely. Total days of participation would generally follow the pattern of participant numbers. With the exceptions of hunting, visiting primitive areas, and whitewater activities, snowmobiling, undeveloped skiing, total days are expected to increase for the remaining 14 activities, some less so than others because of climate differences.


  12.  GTR-NRS-155.  Indicators of climate impacts for forests: recommendations for the US National Climate Assessment indicators system.  Heath, Linda S.; Anderson, Sarah M.; Emery, Marla R.; Hicke, Jeffrey A.; Littell, Jeremy; Lucier, Alan; Masek, Jeffrey G.; Peterson, David L.; Pouyat, Richard; Potter, Kevin M.; Robertson, Guy; Sperry, Jinelle; Bytnerowicz, Andrzej; Jovan, Sarah; Mockrin, Miranda H.; Musselman, Robert; Schulz, Bethany K.; Smith, Robert J.; Stewart, Susan I.  62 p.  

The Third National Climate Assessment (NCA) process for the United States focused in part on developing a system of indicators to communicate key aspects of the physical climate, climate impacts, vulnerabilities, and preparedness to inform decisionmakers and the public. Initially, 13 active teams were formed to recommend indicators in a range of categories, including forest, agriculture, grassland, phenology, mitigation, and physical climate. This publication describes the work of the Forest Indicators Technical Team. We briefly describe the NCA indicator system effort, propose and explain our conceptual model for the forest system, present our methods, and discuss our recommendations. Climate is only one driver of changes in U.S. forests; other drivers include socioeconomic drivers such as population and culture, and other environmental drivers such as nutrients, light, and disturbance. We offer additional details of our work for transparency and to inform an NCA indicator Web portal. We recommend metrics for 11 indicators of climate impacts on forest, spanning the range of important aspects of forest as an ecological type and as a sector. Some indicators can be reported in a Web portal now; others need additional work for reporting in the near future. Indicators such as budburst, which are important to forest but more relevant to other NCA indicator teams, are identified. Potential indicators that need more research are also presented.


Available Online Only

13.  GTR-NRS-156.  Available Online Only.
Stewardship mapping and assessment project: a framework for understanding community-based environmental stewardship.  Svendsen, Erika S.; Campbell, Lindsay K.; Fisher, Dana R.; Connolly, James J.T.; Johnson, Michelle L.; Sonti, Nancy Falxa; Locke, Dexter H.; Westphal, Lynne M.; Fisher, Cherie LeBlanc; Grove, Morgan; Romolini, Michele; Blahna, Dale J.; Wolf, Kathleen L.  62 p..

The Stewardship Mapping and Assessment Project (STEW-MAP) is designed to answer who, where, why and how environmental stewardship groups are caring for our urbanized landscapes. This report is intended to be a guide for those who wish to start STEW-MAP in their own city. It contains step-by-step directions for how to plan and implement a STEW-MAP project. STEW-MAP is both an empirical study of a city's or region's civic environmental stewardship resources and a publicly available online database to help support environmental stewardship broadly in these cities. The project adds a social layer of information to biophysical and urban geographic information on "green infrastructure" in cities. STEW-MAP highlights existing stewardship gaps and overlaps in order to strengthen organizational capacities, enhance citizen monitoring, promote broader public engagement with on-the-ground environmental work, and build effective partnerships among stakeholders involved in urban sustainability.


14.  GTR-NRS-157.  Available Online Only.
USDA Forest Service National Woodland Owner Survey, 2011-2013: design, implementation, and estimation methods.  Butler, Brett J.; Dickinson, Brenton J.; Hewes, Jaketon H.; Butler, Sarah M.; Andrejczyk, Kyle; Markowski-Lindsay, Marla.  62 p..

The National Woodland Owner Survey (NWOS) is conducted by the U.S. Forest Service, Forest Inventory and Analysis program to increase the understanding of the attitudes, behaviors, and demographics of private forest and woodland ownerships across the United States. The information is intended to help policy makers, resource managers, educators, service providers, and others interested in the forest and woodland resources of the United States better understand the social context of these lands in order to facilitate more informed opinions and decisions. This report describes the design, implementation, and analysis of data for the NWOS implemented from 2011 through 2013. The NWOS is concerned with three non-overlapping populations of interest: family, corporate, and other private. To simplify the discussion, the focus of this report is on family forest and woodland ownerships, but identical methods were used for the other populations of interest. Results from this research are being published separately. For additional information visit: See also


15.  RB-NRS-99.  Available Online Only.
USDA Forest Service National Woodland Owner Survey: national, regional, and state statistics for family forest and woodland ownerships with 10+ acres, 2011-2013.  Butler, Brett; Hewes, Jaketon H.; Dickinson, Brenton J.; Andrejczyk, Kyle; Butler, Sarah M.; Markowski-Lindsay, Marla.  62 p..

This report summarizes the results from the 2011-2013 National Woodland Owner Survey (NWOS) conducted by the U.S. Forest Service, Forest Inventory and Analysis program. The focus of the results reported here is family forest and woodland ownerships with holdings of at least 10 acres. Summaries are based on responses from 8,576 family ownerships with at least 10 acres of forest or woodland across 47 U.S. states. Survey summary tables are available at and include the 36 states in which the minimum target effective sample size of 100 respondents was obtained plus tables for the nation and four regions (North, South, Rocky Mountain, and Pacific Coast). An additional 11 states (Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, and Washington) have sample sizes between 10 and 99 and are included in national and regional summary tables, but state- level survey summary tables are not being published due to small sample sizes. Data for three states (Alaska, Nevada, and Wyoming) are excluded due to the low numbers of respondents (n&<10) in each of these states. The survey summary tables provide statistics on general forest ownership patterns, effective sample sizes, and responses to the questions asked on the survey. The 37 survey questions, many with multiple parts, focus on ownership characteristics, land characteristics, reasons for owning land, land ownership history, uses of the forest and woodland, sources of information, concerns, the future of their land, and demographics. For comparison purposes, summary tables from the 2002-2006 iteration of the NWOS are provided along with an additional set of 2011-2013 regional and national summary tables where only states in common with the 2002-2006 iteration are included. In addition, this report includes separate tables with estimated area and estimated number of private, nonindustrial private, and family forest and woodland ownerships by state.


16.  RB-NRS-100.  Available Online Only.
Austin's Urban Forest, 2014.  Nowak, David J.; Bodine, Allison R.; Hoehn, Robert E.; Edgar, Christopher B.; Hartel, Dudley R.; Lister, Tonya W.; Brandeis, Thomas J.  62 p..

An analysis of the urban forest in Austin, Texas, reveals that this area has an estimated 33.8 million trees with tree canopy that covers 30.8 percent of the city. The most common tree species are Ashe juniper, cedar elm, live oak, sugarberry, and Texas persimmon. Trees in Austin currently store about 1.9 million tons of carbon (7.0 million tons of carbon dioxide [CO2]); such storage is valued at $242.0 million. In addition, these trees remove about 92,000 tons of carbon per year (336,000 tons CO2/year) ($11.6 million per year) and about 1,253 tons of air pollution per year ($2.8 million per year). Austin's urban forest is estimated to reduce annual residential energy costs by $18.9 million per year. The compensatory value of the trees is estimated at $16.0 billion. The information presented in this report can be used to improve and augment support for urban forest management programs and to inform policy and planning to improve environmental quality and human health in Austin. The analysis also provides a basis for monitoring changes in the urban forest over time. Appendices can be found online at


17.  RN-NRS-202.  Available Online Only.
An assessment of Japanese honeysuckle in northern U.S. forests.  Kurtz, C.M.; Hansen, M.H.  62 p..

This publication is part of a series that provides an overview of the presence of invasive plant species monitored on an extensive systematic network of plots measured by the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program of the U.S. Forest Service, Northern Research Station (NRS). Each research note features one of the invasive plants monitored on forested plots by NRS FIA in the 24 states of the midwestern and northeastern United States. Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) is native to east Asia and arrived in Long Island, NY, in 1806. In 1862, a horticultural variety of Japanese honeysuckle, called Hall?s honeysuckle, was found in Flushing, NY. This vigorous invader was promoted for wildlife habitat and erosion control as well as for a landscape plant; its sale is now illegal in some states (Kaufman and Kaufman 2007).


18.  RN-NRS-203.  Available Online Only.
An assessment of nonnative bush honeysuckle in northern U.S. forests.  Kurtz, Cassandra; Hansen, M.H.  62 p..

This publication is part of a series that provides an overview of the presence of invasive plant species monitored on an extensive systematic network of plots measured by the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program of the U.S. Forest Service, Northern Research Station (NRS). Each research note features one of the invasive plants monitored on forested plots by NRS FIA in the 24 states of the midwestern and northeastern United States. Nonnative bush honeysuckles (Lonicera species) are native to Eurasia and were introduced in the 1700s (Czarapata 2005, Rich 2000). These vigorous, woody shrubs are found throughout the United States and were promoted for ornamental use, wildlife habitat, and erosion control. Due to their widespread planting and vigorous spread, nonnative bush honeysuckles have become problematic in urban areas, abandoned fields, and forest land.


19.  RU-FS-78.  Available Online Only.
Michigan timber industry, 2010.  Haugen, David E.  62 p..

This resource update provides an overview of timber product output (TPO) and use in Michigan based on questionnaires designed to determine the size and composition of the State's primary wood-using industry, its use of roundwood, and its generation and disposition of wood residues. This study was a cooperative effort between the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MI-DNR) and the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) unit at the Northern Research Station (NRS) of the U.S. Forest Service. The MI-DNR surveys all known primary wood-using mills and FIA processes and analyzes the survey responses. This update presents results from the 2010 survey with comparisons to the 2008 survey. The data were accessed from the FIA database in September 2014. Certain terms used in this report--retained, export, import, production, and receipts--have special meanings and relationships unique to the FIA program that surveys timber product output.


Resource Update

The following publications provide an overview of forest resource attributes for the respective State based on an annual inventory conducted by the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program at the Northern Research Station of the U.S. Forest Service. These are available only online.



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Last Modified: May 11, 2016