University of Vermont

Northeastern States Research Cooperative Concludes Another Successful Year

Robin Orr, Ryan Morra, and Kate Baldwin of NSRC
Robin Orr, Ryan Morra, and Kate Baldwin of NSRC

The Northern Forest, stretching from northern New York to Maine, is a working landscape, and for the people who live in the Northern Forest region, both its ecological integrity and commercial productivity are of utmost importance. This year, the Northeastern States Research Cooperative (NSRC) continued to support research relevant to the people that live in, work in, and care about the Northern Forest through its competitive grant program supported by the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station.

The University of Vermont manages grants that fall under Theme One of the NSRC, which includes projects focused on finding sustainable solutions to the integrated social, economic, and ecological challenges of communities in the Northern Forest.  The University of New Hampshire, the University of Maine, and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) in Syracuse oversee the other research themes for NSRC. Five projects were funded through Theme One this year.

René Germain (FOR ’83) of SUNY-ESF was supported to work on determining the implementation costs of best management practices for family forests and Diane Kuehn, also from SUNY-ESF, will be assessing maple producer’s adaptability to climate change. At the University of Vermont, Jed Murdoch will be investigating how information about wildlife may affect the public accessibility of development projects. Jon Erickson will work to advance the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) as a tool for shaping forestry policy, and Bill Keeton will conduct an evaluation of carbon, methane, and habitat responses over time after silvicultural treatments.

In addition to the full projects above, the NSRC awarded small grants to fund 14 graduate students at the University of Maine, University of New Hampshire, SUNY-ESF, and the University of Vermont following a Graduate Student Research Competitive Grant process that brought in 48 proposals. Two RSENR students, Christopher Hansen and Christine Peterson, received support for their work with Allan Strong on using LiDAR for assessing structure of forest canopies and about powerline rights-of-way affecting early successional bird species, respectively.

Beyond funding research projects, NSRC Theme One has been working to publicly promote completed research through a series of webinars over the last two years. These began as in-person seminars several years ago but moved to a webinar format in order to reach a wider audience.

This past year, five webinars on a variety of research topics were hosted with over 130 participants. Topics included: effects of exurban development on wildlife in the Adirondacks; impacts of climate change on the composition of the Northern Forest; ecological value and conservation priorities for high-elevation spruce-fir forests; use of historic data for modeling and management implications on northern conifer forests; and Native American plant knowledge and conservation of culturally and economically important species. The webinar series will continue next year, and one of the first presentations will be given by Abby van den Berg of UVM’s Proctor Maple Research Center on birch syrup production as a means to increase economic sustainability of the maple syrup industry.

The NSRC is happy to announce that Robin Orr will be joining the NSRC Theme One team as the graduate research assistant for 2013-14. Robin is a Master’s student working in Professor Bill Keeton’s Carbon Dynamics Lab, investigating the effects of medium-scale windthrow events on forest stand dynamics. Look for e-mails from Robin soon enough about next year’s webinar series.

Be aware that the Request for Proposals for the 2014 grant cycle will be here before you know it! It is anticipated that the RFP will be issued at the end of August or early September 2013. The NSRC looks forward to reviewing proposals that will aid in understanding and addressing the social, economic, and environmental potential of the Northern Forest region.

As the 2013-2014 academic year comes to a close, NSRC Theme One Director Breck Bowden and Manager Kate Baldwin want to thank Ryan Morra, the NSRC Theme One graduate research assistant for 2012-13.  Ryan organized and often single-handedly ran the five webinars hosted by NSRC. He prepared webinar videos for the NSRC website, so others could learn about NSRC research.  We are indebted to Ryan for his additional and multiple contributions to increasing NSRC outreach by writing graduate student profiles for the website, serving as a point person for Theme One NSRC, improving the data system, and maintaining the bibliography of project outputs.

Ryan has left his mark on the NSRC program, and we are grateful for his professionalism and outstanding work.