New Station Publications

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Northern Research Station

  1.  GTR-P-NRS-187.  The Forest Futures Horizon Scanning project.  Hines, Andy ; Bengston, David N.; Dockry, Michael J.  81p.  

Horizon scanning is a method for detecting and interpreting the implications of emerging issues and other signals of change, both within and outside of an organization or field. Anticipating possible changes that may affect an organization is a first step toward strategic thinking, planning, and actions that can help prepare it for an uncertain future. Developing insight into emerging possible futures—or strategic foresight—can help decisionmakers respond proactively to seize opportunities and mitigate potential threats. Decisionmaking in forestry and other natural resource management fields has underutilized formal horizon scanning.

The USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station's Strategic Foresight Group recently worked with the University of Houston Foresight graduate program to design and implement a formal horizon scanning system for the agency, with the goal of increasing strategic foresight. The nine papers in this report summarize the early phases of this process and lessons learned. Among the topics are the development of a method to identify useful scanning sources pertinent to forest futures, ways to analyze scanning hits, and distinguishing between current and emerging issues for the Forest Service. Also discussed is the range of communication products generated to date by the project. The report contains the complete guide written for those volunteering to do the scanning. This collection will acquaint forest planners, managers, and policymakers with horizon scanning as an integral step in anticipating the consequences of potential change and making better decisions in a rapidly changing environment.


  2.  RB-NRS-118.  Ohio Forests 2016.  Albright, Thomas A.; Butler, Brett J.; Crocker, Susan J.; Kurtz, Cassandra M.; Lister, Tonya W.; McWilliams, William H.; Miles, Patrick D.; Morin, Randall S.; Nelson, Mark D.; Riemann, Rachel ; Smith, James E.; Woodall, Christopher W.  114p.  

This report constitutes the third full report of annualized inventory on Ohio forest land and summarizes field data collected from 2011 through 2016. Ohio has 8.0 million acres of forest land containing 103 tree species and 50 forest types. Net cubic-foot and sawtimber volumes continued to increase, as did the area occupied by large diameter stands. Growing-stock volume remained stable overall, though it decreased 3 percent on private land since 2006. The net-growth-to-harvest-removals ratio dropped from 2.3:1 in 2011 to 1.6:1 in 2016. Invasive insects have had a substantial impact on Ohio's forests, particularly for ash species. Additional information on land-use change, fragmentation, ownership, forest composition, structure, age, carbon stocks, regeneration, invasive plants, insect pests, and the possible future of Ohio's forests is also presented. Sets of supplemental tables are available online at and contain: 1) tables that summarize quality assurance and 2) a core set of tabular estimates for a variety of forest resources.


Copies still available

  3.  GTR-NRS-62.  Sustaining America's urban trees and forests: a Forests on the Edge report.  Nowak, David J.; Randler, Paula B.; Greenfield, Eric J.; Comas, Sara J.; Carr, Mary A.; Alig, Ralph J.  27 pp.  

Close to 80 percent of the U.S. population lives in urban areas and depends on the essential ecological, economic, and social benefits provided by urban trees and forests. However, the distribution of urban tree cover and the benefits of urban forests vary across the United States, as do the challenges of sustaining this important resource. As urban areas expand across the country, the importance of the benefits that urban forests provide, as well as the challenges to their conservation and maintenance, will increase. The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of the current status and benefits of America's urban forests, compare differences in urban forest canopy cover among regions, and discuss challenges facing urban forests and their implications for urban forest management.


  4.  GTR-NRS-73.  Threats to at-risk species in America's private forests: a Forests on the Edge report.  Carr, Mary A.; McRoberts, Ronald E.; Mahal, Lisa G.; Comas, Sara J.  20p.  

More than 4,600 native animal and plant species associated with private forests in the United States are at risk of decline or extinction. This report identifies areas across the conterminous United States where at-risk species habitats in rural private forests are most likely to decrease because of increases in housing density from 2000 to 2030. We also identify areas where the future of forested habitats for at-risk species could be compromised by additional pressures from wildfire, insects, and disease.


  5.  GTR-NRS-137.  Islands on the edge: housing development and other threats to America's Pacific and Caribbean Island forests: a Forests on the Edge report.  Stein, Susan M.; Carr, Mary A.; Liknes, Greg C.; Comas, Sara J.  55p.  

This report provides an overview of expected housing density changes and related impacts to private forests on America's islands in the Pacific and Caribbean, specifically Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. We discuss the vulnerability of island forests to conversion for housing development, introduction and spread of invasive species, and risk of uncharacteristic wildfire, among other concerns. Our maps and projections suggest that in localized areas from 3 to 25 percent of private forest land is likely to experience a substantial increase in housing density from 2000 to 2030. Resource managers, developers, community leaders, and landowners should consider the impacts of housing development and invasive species on ecosystem services in coming decades.


  6.  GTR-NRS-163.  Effectiveness of best management practices that have application to forest roads: a literature synthesis.  Edwards, Pamela J.; Wood, Frederica; Quinlivan, Robin L.  171p.  

Literature describing the effectiveness of best management practices (BMPs) applicable to forest roads is reviewed and synthesized. Effectiveness is considered from the perspective of protecting water quality and water resources. Both paved and unpaved forest roads are considered, but BMPs that involve substantial engineering are not considered. Some of the BMPs included are commonly used on roads; others are used less often. The synthesis focuses on quantitative BMP effectiveness and descriptions of processes or characteristics that influenced the effectiveness. Qualitative results and observations not supported by data are excluded. Most of the effectiveness results describe sediment losses and sediment delivery, but there is also some coverage of chemicals used as BMPs, such as dust palliatives and soil conditioners. Chapters and subheadings are based on how or where protection is provided, or type of BMP. The final chapter provides information on research needs and potential direction of BMP implementation in the future. Although there remains a great need to quantify BMP effectiveness more rigorously across more physiographic, topographic, climate, and soil conditions, the data provided in this synthesis give road and watershed managers and landowners a starting place for evaluating and selecting BMPs.


  7.  GTR-NRS-165.  Monitoring air quality in class I wilderness areas of the northeastern United States using lichens and bryophytes.  Dibble, Alison C.; Hinds, James W.; Perron, Ralph; Cleavitt, Natalie; Poirot, Richard L.; Pardo, Linda H.  44p.  

To address a need for air quality and lichen monitoring information for the Northeast, we compared bulk chemistry data from 2011-2013 to baseline surveys from 1988 and 1993 in three Class I Wilderness areas of New Hampshire and Vermont. Plots were within the White Mountain National Forest (Presidential Range—Dry River Wilderness and Great Gulf Wilderness, New Hampshire) and the Green Mountain National Forest (Lye Brook Wilderness, Vermont). We sampled epiphyte communities and found 58 macrolichen species and 55 bryophyte species. We also analyzed bulk samples for total N, total S, and 27 additional elements. We detected a decrease in Pb at the level of the National Forest and in a subset of plots. Low lichen richness and poor thallus condition at Lye Brook corresponded to higher N and S levels at these sites. Lichen thallus condition was best where lichen species richness was also high. Highest Hg content, from a limited subset, was on the east slope of Mt. Washington near the head of Great Gulf. Most dominant lichens in good condition were associated with conifer boles or acidic substrates. The status regarding N and S tolerance for many lichens in the northeastern United States is not clear, so the influence of N pollution on community data cannot be fully assessed. Continued monitoring of lichens and bryophytes, especially if integrated with IMPROVE aerosol data, may reveal changes in air quality, climatic conditions, and other potential stressors or stimuli. Lichen health was impacted by low air quality at some of our sites.


  8.  GTR-NRS-169.  The Forestry Reclamation Approach: guide to successful reforestation of mined lands.  Adams, Mary Beth.  128p.  

Appalachian forests are among the most productive and diverse in the world. The land underlying them is also rich in coal, and surface mines operated on more than 2.4 million acres in the region from 1977, when the federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act was passed, through 2015. Many efforts to reclaim mined lands most often resulted in the establishment of grasses, shrubs, and nonnative plants. Research showed that forests could be returned to these mined lands, also restoring the potential for the land to provide forest ecosystem services and goods. Scientists and practitioners developed a set of science-based best management practices for mine reforestation called the Forestry Reclamation Approach (FRA). To help practitioners implement the 5 steps of the FRA and achieve other restoration goals (such as wildlife enhancement), 13 Forest Reclamation Advisories have been written since 2005 and others are underway. The 12 Advisories that are most directly relevant to the Appalachian region are being published here in a single volume for the first time. These Advisories were originally posted on the Web site of the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative (ARRI), an organization created in 2004 by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement along with State mining regulatory authorities in the Appalachian region. Members of ARRI come from the coal mining industry, government agencies, and research institutions. The goal of this initiative is to promote forest reclamation and restoration on mine lands through planting of high-value hardwood trees, increasing those trees’ survival rates and growth, and speeding the establishment of forest habitat through natural succession. To accomplish these goals, ARRI promotes and encourages use of the FRA by reclamation specialists. The Advisories are intended to serve as easy-to-understand guides to implementing the FRA; they provide specific recommendations as well as illustrations and photos to demonstrate tasks. The reformatted Advisories in this volume contain updated information and the latest additional resources to guide reclamation practitioners and other stakeholders in the reestablishment of healthy, productive forests in the Appalachian region.


  9.  GTR-NRS-52.  A Guide to nonnative invasive plants inventoried in the north by Forest Inventory and Analysis.  Olson, Cassandra; Cholewa, Anita F.  191p.  

The Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program of the U.S. Forest Service is an ongoing endeavor mandated by Congress to determine the extent, condition, volume, growth, and depletions of timber on the Nation's forest land. FIA has responded to a growing demand for other information about our forests including, but not limited to, soils, vegetation, down woody material, and invasive plants. The intent of this guide is to aid FIA field staff in identifying 44 invasive plant species in the 24-state Northern Research Station region (Maine south to Delaware west to Kansas and north to North Dakota). However, this guide can be used by anyone interested in learning about these invasive plants. It contains distribution maps, short descriptions, space for notes, and numerous pictures of each plant.


  10.  GTR-NRS-132.  Silvicultural guide for northern hardwoods in the northeast.  Leak, William B.; Yamasaki, Mariko; Holleran, Robbo.  46p.  

This revision of the 1987 silvicultural guide includes updated and expanded silvicultural information on northern hardwoods as well as additional information on wildlife habitat and the management of mixed-wood and northern hardwood-oak stands. The prescription methodology is simpler and more field-oriented. This guide also includes an appendix of familiar tables and charts useful to practicing field foresters. Northern hardwood forest types can be managed as even- or unevenaged stands using a variety of silvicultural practices. In planning these practices, there are many factors to consider including access, species composition, desired regeneration, wildlife habitat needs and environmental concerns. The aim of this document is to provide guidelines to assist the manager in choosing the right methods to meet the landowner objectives consistent with stand conditions.


Available Online Only

11.  GTR-NRS-184.  Gaps in available data for modeling tree biomass in the United States.  Frank, Jereme ; Weiskittel, Aaron ; Walker, David ; Westfall, James A.; Radtke, Philip J.; Affleck, David L.R.; Coulston, John ; MacFarlane, David W.  57p.  

When estimating tree-level biomass and carbon, it is common practice to develop generalized models across numerous species and large spatial extents. However, sampling efforts are generally incomplete and trees are not randomly selected. In this analysis, of the more than 1,000 biomass-related articles that were reviewed, trees were destructively sampled in over 300 studies to estimate biomass in the United States. Studies were summarized and past sampling efforts were explored to illuminate where the largest data gaps occurred in terms of tree components sampled, tree size, tree form, tree species, and location. The most prominent gaps were in large trees, particularly in Douglas-fir trees in the Pacific Northwest. In addition, tree roots were notably undersampled. Lastly, trees of poor or unusual form and low vigor were often not sampled, and this may introduce a systematic bias if not dealt with appropriately. More than 200 species did not have a biomass model or a single data point. The gaps presented here can be viewed as suggestions for future destructive sampling efforts, but the magnitude of a gap for a given model will ultimately depend on the selected modeling framework and the user's objectives.


12.  GTR-NRS-188.  Dehumidification dry kiln construction plans.  Bennett, Neal.  13p.  

Small, complete dehumidification dry kilns under 5,000 board-foot capacity are not available for sale. Dehumidification drying equipment is available, but an enclosure must be built to house the equipment and dry the lumber. A dry kiln needs to be operated when it is filled with lumber and forces airflow through the tiers of lumber instead of around the ends or over the top of the stack(s). This construction plan is for an 800 board-foot capacity dry kiln structure that is designed to work with an EBAC LD800TM dehumidification unit. This size is suitable for the small woodworking shop or for portable sawmill owners.


13.  RP-NRS-32.  Heartwood taper in northern red oak (Quercus rubra L.).  Brown, John P.  9p.  

To better understand how the practice of long–term tree retention affects value, northern red oak (Quercus rubra L.) trees from the Menominee Indian Reservation in Wisconsin were harvested and examined for patterns of heartwood development in relation to several tree characteristics. A total of 69 mature northern red oak trees from three dbh size classes, small (34-47 cm, 20 trees), medium (48-60 cm, 20 trees), and large (= 61 cm, 29 trees), were logged and optimally bucked. Cross-sectional disks were then removed from the tops of the stumps and each log and were analyzed for patterns of change in heartwood radius. Four factors were found to have a statistically significant effect on heartwood radius: age of the tree, size class, height, and inside bark radius. The inside bark radius was the strongest predictor of heartwood radius. A 1 cm increase in inside bark radius led to approximately a 0.95 cm increase in heartwood radius. Increasing height had a small negative effect, with heartwood radius decreasing approximately 0.05 cm for each meter above ground. Age of the tree had a small positive effect of 0.0016 cm per year and was only significant in one expert model considered. These results provide consumers of oak logs and forest managers insight to the interior heartwood pattern and can lead to improved value assessments for northern red oak logs.


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