2016 Vermont Monitoring Cooperative Conference



Healthy Forests, Healthy Watersheds

Friday, December 2, 2016

Davis Center

University of Vermont

Agenda


2016 marks the 26th year of the Vermont Monitoring Cooperative, and at this year's meeting, the VMC collaborative network will be exploring the theme "Healthy Forests, Healthy Watersheds" - how forest management influences watershed conditions and responds to changes in those conditions.

Below is our current draft of the agenda, and the latest details will be posted here as they become available.

Download the Agenda
8:45 - 9:00
Welcome and Introductory Remarks
Jen Pontius, Principal Investigator, Vermont Monitoring Cooperative
9:00 - 9:15
Update on the State of the Cooperative
VMC Director Jim Duncan will present a brief update on the Vermont Monitoring Cooperative network, structure, services and future.
9:15 - 10:45
Plenary Session

The plenary will seek to address the current state of understanding about the links between forest management and watershed-level health. Three speakers will give focused, 15-minute talks exploring the relationship between watershed-level indicators of ecosystem condition and how forest management and planning is adapted in response to changes in these indicators.

Confirmed panelists:
Karl Honkonen, USFS Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry, will speak on science and practice of forested buffers.
Toni Lyn Morelli, USGS Research Ecologist, DOI Northeast Climate Science Center, will speak to an emerging initiative that aims to co-develop management-relevant research to improve invasive species management in the face of climate change.
Colin Beier, SUNY-ESF, will speak on the use of monitoring data to measure how forest management, land use change, pollution, and other factors synergistically impact the multiple benefits provided by northern forests.

10:45 - 11:00
Coffee Break
11:00 - 12:00
Concurrent Session 1: Contributed Talks
Time Watershed Management 1

Moderator: Alexandra Kosiba

Room: Frank Livak

Watershed Management 2

Moderator: John Truong

Room: Silver Maple

Monitoring and Assessment 1

Moderator: Emma Tait

Room: Mildred Livak

11:00 to 11:20

The Role of Forests in Maintaining Water Quality in the Lake Champlain Basin

Kristen Underwood

+ ABSTRACT

Defining forest health in managed forests

Sandy Wilmot

+ ABSTRACT

Regional Environmental Monitoring Through Collaborative Research at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook New York

Vicky Kelly

+ ABSTRACT

The Role of Forests in Maintaining Water Quality in the Lake Champlain Basin

Kristen L. Underwood, Donna M. Rizzo, Corrie Miller, Matthew Witten

Presenter: Kristen Underwood, University of Vermont

Forests have been recognized for their role in moderating stormwater runoff and preserving water quality. Longterm monitoring data for Lake Champlain tributaries suggest a positive correlation between percent forest cover and higher-quality river water. Finer-scale analysis of land cover and soil factors correlated to water quality would be helpful to towns and regional stakeholders engaged in planning efforts to reduce stormwater runoff and sediment/nutrient loading to Lake Champlain. We analyzed water quality data from years 2010 through 2015 for 36 stations in six Lake Champlain Basin watersheds monitored by the Addison County River Watch Collaborative and Friends of the Mad River under the LaRosa Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Partnership. Analysis of soil and land use characteristics in direct-drainage areas (DDAs) to each of these stations, at both the Sub-watershed and Corridor scale, revealed strong, and statistically-significant, positive correlations between mean water quality concentrations (for Total Phosphorus[TP], Turbidity and E. coli ) and percent glacial lake soils, percent very-low- and low-infiltration soils, and percent agricultural land use. Conversely, percent forest cover was strongly correlated, in a negative sense, to concentrations of these same constituents. Results underscore the importance of intact, healthy forest blocks and forested riparian areas for maintaining water quality in these watersheds.

Defining forest health in managed forests

Presenter: Sandy Wilmot, VT Department of Forest, Parks and Recreation

Definitions are important when attempting to detect changes that will have extensive and/or long-lasting impacts on forest functions, on landowner’s products, and on nature-based services that forests provide to us free of charge. Our State definition of healthy forests builds off Aldo Leopold’s concepts of self-renewal and resiliency. Is this even possible under our new climate future? This presentation will review current forest conditions, current stress agents, and explore the various situations where new definitions and metrics may be needed.

Regional Environmental Monitoring Through Collaborative Research at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook New York

Vicky Kelly

Presenter: Vicky Kelly, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook NY

Environmental monitoring at the Cary Institute is designed to provide long-term data about environmental conditions, especially those that have been altered by human activities. The program includes monitoring of weather and climate, air, precipitation and streamwater chemistry, as well as solar radiation and the movement of water in the landscape. Other long-term research programs at Cary monitor organisms and conditions such as deer and their impact on forest structure, birds, ticks and Lyme disease and forest health. Collaborative research and network participation allows us to contribute to regional monitoring and to help inform regional policy and management. We currently host sites for National Atmospheric Deposition Program for air ammonia, US Climate Reference Network for climate and the NY Department of Environmental Conservation for atmospheric ozone and SO2 monitoring. Other collaborations include work with NOAA Cooperative Remote Sensing and Technology Center and USDA Agricultural Research Service to monitor soil moisture and temperature at multiple sites as part of the NASA Soil Moisture Active Passive mission. The Cary Institute is a member of the Environmental Monitoring and Management Alliance (EMMA), a regional alliance of sites along an urban to rural gradient from New York City to near Albany. The EMMA network aims to monitor environmental conditions across a regional gradient in order to provide information to develop, justify or adjust management strategies in the face of pressing environmental issues such as climate change and deer overabundance. EMMA monitors phenology via citizen science volunteers using the framework of the USA National Phenology Network. EMMA weather and deer impact data are managed via the Vermont Monitoring Cooperative (VMC). This talk will provide an overview of the Cary Institute's environmental monitoring with emphasis on the EMMA collaborative and its data management with the VMC.
11:20 to 11:40

Regeneration responses to management for old-growth characteristics in northern hardwood-conifer forests

William Keeton

+ ABSTRACT

Vermont Conservation Design: Maintaining and Enhancing an Ecologically Functional Landscape

Eric Sorenson

+ ABSTRACT

Continuous Forest Inventory across Vermont State-owned Land in the Northeast Kingdom

Emily P. Meacham

+ ABSTRACT

Regeneration responses to management for old-growth characteristics in northern hardwood-conifer forests

Dr. William S. Keeton, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT, USA
Aviva Gottesman, RSNER M.S. Candidate in Forestry

Presenter: William Keeton, RSENR, UVM

Forest management practices interact with multiple sources of variability to influence regeneration trends in northern hardwood forests. There is uncertainty whether low-intensity selection harvesting techniques will result in adequate and desirable tree regeneration. Our research is part of a long-term study that tests the hypothesis that a silvicultural approach called "structural complexity enhancement" (SCE) can promote accelerated development of late-successional forest structure and functions. Our objective is to understand the regeneration dynamics following three uneven-aged forestry treatments modified to increase postharvest structural retention: single-tree selection, group selection, and SCE. In terms of regeneration densities and composition, how do light availability, competition, substrate, and herbivory interact with treatment effects? To explore these relationships, manipulations and controls were replicated across 2-hectare treatment units at two sites in Vermont, USA. Forest inventory data were collected pre-harvest and 13 years post-harvest. We used linear mixed effects models with repeated measures to evaluate the effects of treatment on seedling and sapling abundances and diversity (Shannon-Weiner H'). Multivariate analyses evaluated the relative predictive strength of treatment versus alternative sources of ecological variability.
Thirteen-years post-harvest, the harvested treatments were all successful in recruiting a sapling class with a significantly higher mean than the control. However, in all of the treatments prolific beech sprouting dominated the understory in patches. Seedling densities exhibited pulses of recruitment and mortality with a significant positive treatment effect on all harvested treatments in the first four years post-harvest. Seedling diversity was maintained, while sapling diversity was negatively influenced by the presence of herbivory (deer and moose browse) and leaf litter substrate. Multivariate analyses suggest that while treatment had a dominant effect, other controls were strongly influential in driving regeneration responses. Results indicate variants of uneven-aged systems that retain or enhance stand structural complexity, including old-growth characteristics, generally show resilience to regeneration limitations depending on site conditions.

Vermont Conservation Design: Maintaining and Enhancing an Ecologically Functional Landscape

Presenter: Eric Sorenson, Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department

Climate change and the expected effects on species distribution and natural community composition have led to refinements in how we plan for biodiversity conservation. Coarse-filter conservation focused on representing high quality examples of natural communities and ecosystems is still very important, but we also need to address coarse filter conservation at the landscape scale.
The Vermont Conservation Design is a practical approach to protecting and enhancing an ecologically functional landscape - a landscape in which plants and animals are able to thrive, reproduce, migrate, and move as climate changes and in which ecosystems can continue to function under natural processes. The project is a collaboration between the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, conservation partners, and is part of Vermont’s Wildlife Action Plan.
We identified five landscape features that will be most effective as coarse filters for conserving finer-scale elements. The documentation of which species, natural communities, and habitats will be captured by these coarse filters was a key step. The five landscape features are Interior Forest Blocks, Connectivity Blocks, Surface Waters and Riparian Areas, Riparian Areas for Connectivity, and Physical Landscape Diversity Blocks. Selection criteria for each of these elements results in a landscape-scale conservation design and map. The project used readily available GIS data in which we have high confidence in the quality. Future steps will be to identify which natural community types, rare species, and habitats (including young and old forests) are effectively captured by this coarse-filter design and to set conservation targets for those that need specific conservation attention.

Continuous Forest Inventory across Vermont State-owned Land in the Northeast Kingdom

Presenter: Emily P. Meacham, Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation - State Lands Program

The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation State Lands Program has established over 100 permanent plots in the Northeast Kingdom to begin Continuous Forest Inventory for Vermont State-owned Lands. Continuous Forest Inventory (CFI) is a monitoring system started in 1947 by C.B. Stott to address the need to measure forest growth in addition to current forest conditions. Data collected from CFI plots will help land managers calculate growth rates and monitor changes in the forest ecosystem. This type of inventory will also improve our ability to understand changes in the forest over time and across management regimes due to both natural disturbance events and active management. Additionally, CFI provides a consistent set of inventory data and creates a solid baseline for forest research.
Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation Continuous Forest Inventory will include a complete measurement of tree growth, decay, and regeneration. Each plot will be measured every 5 years. After the second season of plot establishment, there are now over 100 permanent plots across the Victory Management Unit and Willoughby State Forest at a density of one plot per approximately 200 acres. The Vermont Monitoring Cooperative has taken the CFI raw data and created a coherent database that is available for public use. This data can be used for a variety of projects and research. For example, UVM Forestry Professor Anthony D'Amato intends to use the CFI data to develop fine-resolution maps for use in his work. Additionally, the Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation hopes to use this data to calculate forest growth and accelerate the long range planning process.
11:40 to 12:00

Watershed-scale conservation, restoration and management in the Maine Woods

David Publicover

+ ABSTRACT

Strategies for Reducing Phosphorus Loading and Sedimentation from Forestry Operations in Vermont

Gary Sabourin

+ ABSTRACT

Bioassessment in Vermont's Forested Wetlands: Past, Present, and Future

Charlie Hohn

+ ABSTRACT

Watershed-scale conservation, restoration and management in the Maine Woods

Presenter: David Publicover, Appalachian Mountain Club

The Appalachian Mountain Club’s Maine Woods Initiative encompasses 70,000 acres of forest land east of Moosehead Lake purchased from commercial timber companies since 2003. The land is managed for a combination of backcountry recreation, sustainable forestry, habitat conservation and outdoor education. The property is encumbered by five conservation easements held by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, The Nature Conservancy and the Forest Society of Maine and has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
AMC’s property contains the headwaters of two rivers and several lake and stream systems. Of particular note is the West Branch of the Pleasant River, one of Maine’s most significant wild brook trout fisheries. The river was described by the Maine Rivers Study as “one of the most primitive areas in the state” and is a Nature Conservancy priority portfolio aquatic ecosystem. Of the 32,000-acre watershed upstream of Gulf Hagas, 77% lies within AMC’s ownership. In 2003 just 11% of this watershed was conserved; today 94% is conserved, with 64% in permanent ecological reserve.
In cooperation with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, AMC has undertaken a major effort to improve aquatic habitat connectivity across its property. Over the last five years AMC has removed 19 barrier culverts and reconnected 22 miles of tributary headwater streams to their main stem rivers. These streams provide important cold-water spawning habitat for brook trout and Atlantic salmon.
About half of AMC’s property is designated for active timber management. The long-term goal is to promote the restoration of mature multi-aged forests that more closely reflect the natural composition and structure of the region’s forests. A strong emphasis is put on the retention and recruitment of large old trees and large woody debris. Complete overstory removals and even-aged management are avoided.
AMC’s management incorporates many of the climate change adaptation principles set forth in the USFS publication Forest Adaptation Resources: Climate Change Tools and Approaches for Land Managers. In addition to landscape-level conservation and restoring aquatic connectivity, these include improving forest road stability and drainage structures, retaining a diverse species mix during harvesting, and retaining mature white pine as seed source. (This species is currently limited on the property but is expected to increase in a future warmer climate.) AMC has also completed a verified forest carbon offset project with the Climate Action Reserve on a portion of the property.
AMC’s activities are monitored annually by the easement holders and FSC. Long-term changes in forest composition and structure will be monitored through period timber management and carbon project inventories. AMC is a cooperator in the Maine Forest Service statewide spruce budworm monitoring program and has assisted with the USGS Appalachian Trail Mega-Transect monitoring project.

Strategies for Reducing Phosphorus Loading and Sedimentation from Forestry Operations in Vermont

Presenter: Gary Sabourin, VT Dept. of Forests, Parks and Recreation

Sediment is the most common pollutant associated with timber harvesting. Soil is carried by rainwater after timber harvesting equipment and trees dragged or carried over the ground loosen and expose the soil. Bare ground exposed during harvesting operations can be eroded by rainwater and enter nearby streams. Stream crossings used during harvesting are a particular area of concern. An estimated 16% of the total phosphorus load delivered to Lake Champlain comes from Vermont forestland. With forest covering more than 4.4 million acres state-wide and representing 75% of Vermont's total land base, forestry is an important area of focus for reducing sediment and phosphorus loading to state waters.

Bioassessment in Vermont's Forested Wetlands: Past, Present, and Future

Charlie Hohn, Tina Heath, and Laura Lapierre

Presenter: Charlie Hohn, Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, Wetlands Program

The Vermont Wetlands Program conducts bioassessments on Vermont wetlands, many of which are forested ecosystems. Monitoring and assessment work includes intensive field surveys (including the EPA National Wetland Condition Assessment) in which data on plant species, soil, hydrology, and water quality are collected to determine wetland condition across the state. Additionally rapid assessment data on the wetland's landscape characteristics, functions, and conditions are collected with a protocol known as the Vermont Rapid Assessment Method(VRAM). This tool is meant to complement and approximate overall wetland quality in a shorter amount of time. The VRAM protocol is being updated and will soon be rolled out with a web portal and citizen science manual for use by the public and interested stakeholders.
General findings from our data collection confirm that wetlands with lower disturbance and with large intact forested buffers tend to be in good condition with better water quality, and score higher on several condition and function metrics than those without these features - underscoring the importance of both intact forested wetlands and the upland forests in their buffers and watersheds. Our plant diversity data also illustrate the importance of forested wetlands as among the most biodiverse of Vermont's forested ecosystems.
12:00 - 1:00
Lunch
1:00 - 2:20
Concurrent Session 2: Contributed Talks
Time Landscapes

Moderator: Rebecca Stern

Room: Frank Livak

Wildlife

Moderator: Emma Tait

Room: Chittenden

Monitoring and Assessment 2

Moderator: Julia Runcie

Room: Mildred Livak

Drivers of Change

Moderator: Alexandra Kosiba

Room: Jost

1:00 to 1:20

Modeling hemlock woolly adelgid risk and impacts of presalvage harvesting on carbon stocks in northern hemlock forests

Jennifer Pontius

+ ABSTRACT

Moose in Northern New England - Populations, Forest Management, and Climate Change

Peter Pekins

+ ABSTRACT

The Environmental Monitoring and Management Alliance (EMMA) and White-tailed Deer Monitoring for Management

Lynn Christenson

+ ABSTRACT

Identifying species at risk from nitrogen deposition in forests in the northeastern U.S.: a geospatial analysis using exceedance of critical loads

Linda H. Pardo

+ ABSTRACT

Modeling hemlock woolly adelgid risk and impacts of presalvage harvesting on carbon stocks in northern hemlock forests

Jennifer A. Pontius, University of Vermont and USFS Northern Research Station, Jeffrey Krebs, University of Vermont William Livingston, University of Maine Kara Lorion, University of Maine Stacy Trosper, University of Maine Paul Schaberg, USFS Northern Research Station

Presenter: Jennifer Pontius, USFS NRS and UVM

Two recent studies provide useful information on the management of northern hemlock stands in light of encroaching hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) infestations:
- Dendrochronological assessments of HWA impacts on hemlock allowed us to examine variable rates of growth decline following incipient infestation. Results indicate that the magnitude of growth decline was significantly greater on sites with specific site characteristics. Applying a spatial logit model based on these characteristics differentiated high- and low-BAI-reduction stands with 80% accuracy across 41 calibration sites and 73% accuracy across 15 independent validation sites. Applied across the northeast, the resulting spatially explicit risk model shows the likelihood of hemlock growth declines when HWA arrives.
- Stand development simulations under various management scenarios allowed us to model the potential impact of HWA infestation and management activities on C dynamics in northern hemlock stands. Using FVS and FIA data to model C storage and successional pathways under presalvage harvesting, HWA infestation and no disturbance scenarios we found that both presalvage and HWA scenarios had significantly lower total C than the control at the end of the 150 year simulation. However, the cumulative net C gain was lower for the presalvage than HWA scenario, indicating that allowing HWA to progress naturally through a stand may result in the least impact to net C storage.
These studies, along with knowledge of current HWA infestation borders, can be used to direct management efforts, with the intention of minimizing HWA-induced hemlock mortality and maintaining the regions carbon stocks.

Moose in Northern New England - Populations, Forest Management, and Climate Change

Presenter: Peter Pekins, University of New Hampshire

The New England moose (Alces alces) story is only 35-40 years old and continues to evolve. Population dynamics (growth, decline, stability), both moose and forest harvest strategies, economics and cultural values, and parasites/pests including the winter tick (Dermacentor albipictus), brainworm (Parelaphostrongylus tenuis), and spruce budworm (Choristoneura fumiferana) all influence moose populations. Although local moose density can be high and affect forest regeneration and species composition, studies in 3 states have found minimal impact when accounting for growth out to 20 years. Local populations can and have been reduced to address specific forest management concerns and moose-vehicular collision rates. However, of more concern is the winter tick, an ectoparasite of moose that has had increasing impact on calf survival and adult productivity. Population models based on current research point to a slow, long-term moose decline due to its impact. Climate change in the form of shorter winters is the driver in these models because of its positive influence on winter tick abundance. Because adult moose mortality from winter tick parasitism is uncommon, yet productivity is reduced, maintaining and/or enhancing productivity will depend on the continual availability of optimal habitat provided by commercial forestry.

The Environmental Monitoring and Management Alliance (EMMA) and White-tailed Deer Monitoring for Management

Presenter: Lynn Christenson, Vassar College

In the NE USA, white-tailed deer have become a target species for both forest managers and animal rights activists. This leaves managing deer a complicated prospect. EMMA is a group of Hudson Valley Preserves utilizing multiple methods to control deer, while collecting ecosystem scale data that is relevant to other land managers challenged by deer overabundance. By partnering with the VMC, EMMA can provide both data and insights into the area of deer management in urbanized landscapes. A continuing long-term project for EMMA, established in 2013, monitors ecosystem response to varying deer densities. Using multiple, paired-plot, exclosed and unexclosed areas, located along an urban to rural gradient, this project measures and evaluates a suite of ecosystem variables under no deer activity, low deer activity, moderate and high deer activity and include; plant response (success and survival), soil and microbial response (carbon and nitrogen dynamics) and biodiversity response (plant and animal populations).

Identifying species at risk from nitrogen deposition in forests in the northeastern U.S.: a geospatial analysis using exceedance of critical loads

Linda H. Pardo, Molly Robin-Abbott, Claire B. O'Dea, Jennifer Pontius, Jason A. Coombs

Presenter: Linda H. Pardo, USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station

Maintaining commercially important tree species, as well as species valued for ecological, social, and cultural reasons, is becoming increasingly challenging in the northeastern U.S. due to the significant threats impacting ecosystem health and sustainability over the long term, in particular climate change and nitrogen (N) deposition. We developed a GIS-based tool, Nitrogen Critical Loads Assessment by Site (N-CLAS), to evaluate the impact of multiple stressors (N deposition and climate change) simultaneously for species of management concern on public and private forest lands. In addition to calculating species-specific critical loads, N-CLAS is designed to take into account the impact of site abiotic factors on the response of trees to N deposition. The abiotic modifying factors include, precipitation, temperature (e.g., January T, July T, May-September T), and soil characteristics. Application of N-CLAS across the northeastern U.S. allows us to evaluate which areas and tree species are most susceptible to impacts from N deposition. N-CLAS can determine the critical load and exceedance for individual tree species or all the species present. N-CLAS also provides information about the % of the area where deposition is in exceedance of the critical load and the % area by species at risk at any given deposition level. We are incorporating climate change scenarios in order to explore the interaction between climate change and nitrogen deposition. Thus, we will also be able to determine the fraction of the region that is susceptible to detrimental impacts of N deposition under projected climate scenarios. Use of this tool provides resource managers with a simple way to incorporate the current state-of-the-science knowledge into their planning and management decisions.
1:20 to 1:40

15,001 Trees and Counting

Elise Schadler

+ ABSTRACT

Spruce Grouse Habitat Ecology in Maine’s Commercially Managed Acadian Forest

Stephen Dunham

+ ABSTRACT

Defining and Targeting High Flows

Bill Hoadley

+ ABSTRACT

Do Invasive Earthworms Affect Maple Regeneration?

Josef H. Gorres

+ ABSTRACT

15,001 Trees and Counting

Elise Schadler, Technical Assistance Coordinator, VT Urban & Community Forestry Program, UVM Extension

Presenter: Elise Schadler, Vermont Urban & Community Forestry Program

In 2013 the VT Urban & Community Forestry Program (VT UCF), a collaborative effort of the VT Dept. of Forests, Parks, & Recreation and UVM Extension, received a multi-year grant from the USDA Forest Service to support 20 priority Vermont communities in moving their urban and community forestry programs forward. The project focused on a three-pronged approach: 1) Providing assistance in inventorying the public trees in the community, 2) Working with municipal staff and/or volunteers to develop (or update) a management plan for the community's public trees, and 3) Coordinating a training for municipal staff (Public Works, Roads Dept., Parks & Recreation) and citizen volunteers to be trained in basic tree care best practices. VT UCF collaborated with the GIS Team at the Agency of Natural Resources to develop a robust, cloud-based, user-friendly inventory tool for this effort; in addition to the 20 towns included in the project, an additional 7 communities' public trees have been inventoried based on local interest. To date, data have been collected on 15,0001 trees along residential streets, in downtowns, in parks, and at schools. We are eager to share our analysis of the trees that make up Vermont's urban forests, as well as our VT-specific tree inventory tool and lessons learned from engaging with the municipal leaders, staff, and citizens that manage and care for public trees.

Spruce Grouse Habitat Ecology in Maine’s Commercially Managed Acadian Forest

Daniel J. Harrison and Erik J. Blomberg

Presenter: Stephen Dunham, Cooperative Forest Research Unit; University of Maine

Spruce grouse (Falcipennis canadensis) inhabiting Acadian forest of the northeastern United States are at the southern extent of their range and are listed as state-endangered in two (New York and Vermont) of the four states where they persist in the northeast. Often assumed to be associated with mature, unharvested forests in this region, few studies have addressed spruce grouse habitat ecology in commercially managed forests. We investigated occupancy and abundance of male spruce grouse during the breeding season and patterns of within stand-scale habitat selection of spruce grouse hens during the brood-rearing season in the commercial forests of northcentral Maine. Patterns of occupancy and abundance by male spruce grouse were examined by surveying 30 stands during each breeding season (May-June) in 2012-2014. Areas surveyed represented four common forest harvest histories including regenerating clearcut, pre-commercially thinned, selection harvest, and mature unharvested conifer stands. Probability of detection given occupancy was 0.61, and the probability of occupancy varied by successional stage from 0.37 to 0.77. Across our study area, individual male grouse had a probability of detection of 0.24 and the abundance of male grouse also varied by successional stage from 0.67 to 2.75 grouse per surveyed stand. Based upon the covariates included in the models, both occurrence and abundance of breeding male spruce grouse were highest in mid-successional, moderately dense, conifer-dominated stands that have experienced intensive forestry practices. We investigated within stand-scale (i.e., 3rd-order selection) habitat selection by female spruce grouse during the brood-rearing season (June-October) in 2012-2014 by tracking 30 radio-marked hens captured in 12 stands. We used general linear mixed models to construct resource selection functions to compare use to availability for each hen. Female spruce grouse selected for abundant low vegetation structure (<0.5m), lowest tree branches 3-9 m above ground, and for tree densities <1000 /ha. We also developed home range estimates based on 80% fixed kernel utilization distributions to determine appropriate scales for managing brood season habitat. We estimated fixed kernel home ranges for 27 hens, and observed an average home range area of 37.7 ha (SE = 23.9 ha). Spruce-fir forests in the region have declined in recent years and are predicted to decline further under all future climate scenarios. Currently, the conditions selected for by spruce grouse occur predominantly in northern Maine within stands with a past history of clearcutting followed by post-harvest treatments of herbicide and/or pre-commercial thinning to suppress hardwood regeneration. Our results suggest substantial opportunities to provide for habitat needs of spruce grouse within commercial forests managed for conifer regeneration following stand replacing harvests.

Defining and Targeting High Flows

Presenter: Bill Hoadley, South Chittenden River Watch

The SCRW Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program samples the LaPlatte River and McCabe's Brook which drain into Shelburne Bay and Thorp and Kimball Brooks which discharge into Town Farm Bay. Program objectives include 1) identification of "hot spots" and need for mitigation and improved watershed management practices, 2) informing efforts to protect and improve water quality in our streams and receiving waters, and 3) establishment of baseline conditions for assessing trends and the effectiveness of measures taken to improve water quality in streams and nutrient loadings on their receiving water bodies.
Since the initiation of the SCRW program in 2004, our sampling program and monitoring strategies have evolved as our understanding of factors affecting water quality in our streams and of loadings on the lake and as our priorities have come increasingly into focus. Key to this evolution have been an emphasis on the analysis and interpretation of our data, undertaking related studies outside the LaRosa program, redesign of our program in the context of the proposed 5-year basin planning cycle, and a willingness of the DEC to accommodate significant changes from the monitoring program as initially conceived.
Among the changes initiated have been1) the establishment of strategically located "sentinel" sites sampled yearly and more extensive coverage sampled for 2-year periods tied to the planning process, and 2) a shift from random flow sampling to the targeting of high flows. It is the purpose of this presentation to discuss the basis for defining and targeting of high flow rates, including 1) analysis of phosphorus burdens associated with suspended sediment, 2) particle size analysis, 3) in-stream sediment and nutrient mass balance analysis based on in-stream flow measurements, and 4) nutrient loading rates in relation to stream discharge rates.
Results of our analyses revealed a "critical" or "threshold" stream discharge rate above which 1) the bulk of the sediment and nutrients are discharged to the receiving waters and 2) discharges into receiving waters are representative of contributing watersheds. These results have provided a basis for defining high flows. We have found, furthermore, that in spite of local variations in rainfall, flow measured at the USGS gaging station on the LaPlatte river was a fairly good indicator of discharge levels in all streams we sample. Whereas stream monitoring of flow contributed greatly to our understanding sources of sediment and nutrients at sub-watershed level and their behavior in relation to discharge rates, as well as for comparing watersheds, installation and maintenance of staff gages was found to be too costly to continue monitoring flow rates at sub-watershed level. The targeting of high flow rates, however, while it requires careful monitoring of discharge rates and weather forecasts, and flexibility and depth of sampling teams, as well as willingness of the laboratory to accommodate unpredictable sampling schedules, has proved feasible.

Do Invasive Earthworms Affect Maple Regeneration?

J. Gorres, B. Parker, M. Skinner, D. Toby, N. Cunningham, L. Sisco, C. Sullivan

Presenter: Josef H. Gorres, Plant and Soil Science, University of Vermont, Burlington


The invasion of earthworms in northeastern hardwood forests has affected considerable changes in soil structure and understory vegetation. In combination these understory modifications with browsing by deer is thought to reduce seedling survival. We are reporting on two years of monitoring of earthworm invested 10 sugar maple stands in 2015 and 39 stands in 2016 in four frost-hardiness zones from Vermont to Connecticut. We measured forest floor damage using the Invasive Earthworm Rapid Assessment Tool, determined earthworm and plant community, as well as sapling abundance. We found 10 different earthworm species during out investigation which represents about 50% of the known species in Vermont and 30% of known species that occur in New England. Many sites had been affected by earthworms. Those that showed the most damage were invaded by Lumbricus terrestris (Night Crawler) and Amynthas spp. (Snake Worm species). In 2015, there were strong effects of L. terrestris and A. spp. on plant cover, species richness and maple seedlings. However, in 2016 we found little evidence that invasion made a difference in plant community and seedling recruitment. We attribute this to the effect of the drought that afflicted most of New England during the summer of 2016 when the monitoring was done. Most seedlings in earthworm affected stands were first year seedlings that are still vulnerable to deer browsing. In the absence of effective earthworm controls, care should be taken to protect uninvaded sites.
1:40 to 2:00

The Application of LiDAR to Watershed Management on the White Mountain National Forest

Landon Gryczkowski

+ ABSTRACT

Rusty Blackbirds in the Northern Forest: Breeding Season Status and Habitat Associations at Local and Landscape Scales

Stacy McNulty

+ ABSTRACT

Changing tree species distributions: a 30 year investigation into spatiotemporal trends

David Gudex-Cross

+ ABSTRACT

Bioaccumulation and Trophic Transfer of Methylmercury in Wood Frogs and Spotted Salamanders in Vermont Vernal Pools

Steve Faccio

+ ABSTRACT

The Application of LiDAR to Watershed Management on the White Mountain National Forest

Presenter: Landon Gryczkowski, White Mountain National Forest

Newly-acquired LiDAR data across many parts of the country have allowed land management agencies to see and analyze the landscapes they manage in new ways. One of the products of LiDAR is a high-resolution digital elevation model (DEM) of the ground surface. Using this DEM, many aspects of watershed management are improved; for example, headwater streams can be visualized and mapped, geomorphic landforms can be identified for use in soil surveys, and watershed boundaries can be refined. Field efforts to map important features within a watershed are therefore streamlined, which increases efficiency. As LiDAR data become increasingly available across the White Mountain National Forest, land managers are beginning to apply the tools and techniques enabled by LiDAR data to better manage the Forest and its watersheds.

Rusty Blackbirds in the Northern Forest: Breeding Season Status and Habitat Associations at Local and Landscape Scales

Shannon H. Buckley Luepold, Amanda L. Pachomski, Carol R. Foss, Thomas P. Hodgman, Jonathan Cohen and Shannon Farrell

Presenter: Stacy McNulty, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus) populations have plummeted since the mid-20th century. This boreal wetland-breeding bird has experienced one of the most significant declines ever documented among extant North American birds (> 90% since 1960). We explored the mechanisms by which an ecological trap may be operating in New England through a multiscale analysis of Rusty Blackbird habitat selection and nest survival, as well as predator identification and quantification. We located 72 nests in Maine and New Hampshire in two breeding seasons, and modeled habitat selection and nest survival as a function of habitat characteristics at the nest patch (5 m) and home range (500 m) scale. We placed camera traps at 29 nests to identify nest predators, and surveyed squirrel abundance each year. Rusty Blackbirds selected nest patches with high basal area of small conifers and low canopy closure. Nest survival was not reduced in harvested stands, but increased with increasing basal area. Percent cover of wetlands and young softwood stands were the best predictors of Rusty Blackbird selection at the home range scale. Red squirrels were the most frequent predator of nests following a conifer mast year. Dense cover of small softwoods is important for habitat selection and survival of Rusty Blackbird nests; some management activities such as roads or pre-commercial thinning near wetlands may negatively impact habitat quality for this species. We did not find evidence that harvested stands acted as ecological traps for Rusty Blackbirds, as the preference for patches of short, dense conifers appeared to be adaptive even when such habitat was the result of logging activities. We will also share results of a recent Rusty Blackbird foraging study in beaver-influenced wetlands in New Hampshire and survey results from the Adirondack Mountains of New York that have implications for forest and watershed management at fine and landscape scales and for conservation of this sentinel boreal species.

Changing tree species distributions: a 30 year investigation into spatiotemporal trends

D. Gudex-Cross, J. Pontius

Presenter: David Gudex-Cross, UVM RSENR

Northeastern forests are dynamic assemblages of tree species whose composition is influenced by succession, disturbance, and forest management. Recent evidence suggests that climate change is also impacting species distributions, with species such as northern red oak (Quercus rubra) projected to become more common across the region while others, like sugar maple (Acer saccharum), are likely to become less common. However, these projected changes have largely been modeled at a coarse spatial resolution based on relationships between current species ranges and environmental variables.
Here, we present preliminary results on how the abundance and distribution of ten key northeastern tree species has changed over the past 30 years by leveraging a novel set of species abundance maps. In five year timesteps beginning in 1985, we quantify overall trends in species percent basal area to identify species generally increasing ("winners") and decreasing ("losers") in abundance across the region. By fitting a regression to the percent basal area data at each 30m pixel, areas of generally increasing and decreasing composition can also be identified for each species. Linked to ancillary environmental variables such as elevation, climate, soil, and site characteristics, we begin to explore spatial patterns in changing forest composition and what this implies for the future of the region's forests.

Bioaccumulation and Trophic Transfer of Methylmercury in Wood Frogs and Spotted Salamanders in Vermont Vernal Pools

Kate L. Buckman, Department of Biological Sciences, Dartmouth College,Hanover, NH.
Vivien Taylor, Department of Earth Sciences, Dartmouth College,Hanover, NH.
Amanda Curtis, Department of Biological Sciences, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH.

Presenter: Steve Faccio, Vermont Center for Ecostudies

Mercury contamination via atmospheric deposition and leaf fall is widespread in the Northeast, and hotspots with enhanced deposition and biological uptake have been identified throughout the region. Due to their relatively high organic matter and low oxygen levels, vernal pools provide ideal conditions for the conversion of mercury to its more toxic and bioavailable form, methylmercury. Yet little is known about the presence, cycling, and methylation rates of mercury in vernal pools, its effects on vernal pool fauna, and potential export into terrestrial systems. We have been investigating the role of land-use and landscape characteristics on the production and transfer of methylmercury in vernal pool foodwebs. We analyzed mercury levels in samples of water, soil, leaf litter, an array of invertebrates from several trophic levels, and eggs, larvae and adult amphibians. This presentation will summarize preliminary results of methylmercury concentrations in wood frog and spotted salamander eggs, larvae, and adults from six vernal pools in east-central Vermont.
2:00 to 2:20

30 years of forest conversion in the Northeast: historical patterns and future projections

Alison Adams

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Estimating the source of American martens (Martes americana) in Vermont and their genetic structure in the northeastern United States

Cody Aylward

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Photopoint Monitoring in the Adirondack Alpine Zone

Julia Goren

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The Monkton Amphibian Underpass

Jim Andrews

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30 years of forest conversion in the Northeast: historical patterns and future projections

Alison Adams, Jennifer Pontius, Gillian Galford, Scott Merrill, David Gudex-Cross

Presenter: Alison Adams, University of Vermont

Land use and land cover across the northeastern United States has changed dramatically over the past century. While these changes are highly visible to land managers and planning professionals on a local level, regional information on the nature and extent of these changes has been limited. Thanks to the wealth of historical satellite imagery that has recently become freely available, we are now able to look, with sufficient temporal resolution (5 year intervals from 1985 to 2015), at the patterns and rates of land cover change across the Northeast. In this study we utilized recently-developed maps of land cover in the Northeast to quantify changes in the landscape over the past thirty years, looking particularly at transitions to and from forest. This information is critical to inform adaptive forest management in the face of increasing development and parcelization, as well as converging stress agents across the region. Using Dinamica EGO, a sophisticated spatial modeling platform, we identified significant drivers of historical change and simulated future changes in land cover. Here we present historical and projected changes in forest pattern and extent for the northeastern US from 1985 to 2060.

Estimating the source of American martens (Martes americana) in Vermont and their genetic structure in the northeastern United States

Cody Aylward
James D. Murdoch
C. William Kilpatrick

Presenter: Cody Aylward, University of Vermont

American martens (Martes americana) have returned to Vermont after a perceived >35 year absence. One population in southern Vermont is believed to be remnant of a 1989-91 reintroduction effort that was previously deemed unsuccessful. A second population in northeastern Vermont is believed to have been colonized by dispersers from New Hampshire. We estimated the source of martens in northern and southern Vermont and genetic structure of the broader population in the northeastern US. We used D-loop sequences of mitochondrial DNA to estimate differentiation among southern Vermont, northern Vermont, New York, New Hampshire, and Maine populations and female genetic structure across the northeast. Eleven microsatellite loci were used to exclude populations as potential sources of individuals from Vermont, predict the most likely population of origin for individuals from Vermont, and detect overall genetic structure across the northeast. To date, mtDNA results indicate the southern Vermont population is a remnant of the reintroduction. Preliminary results of population exclusion/assignment tests and estimates of genetic structure will be available by November 2016. Final results will be available in Spring 2017.

Photopoint Monitoring in the Adirondack Alpine Zone

Presenter: Julia Goren, Adirondak Mountain Club Summit Steward Program

Fragile alpine species in heavily used recreation areas are threatened by human trampling. For sixteen years the Adirondack High Peaks Summit Steward program has utilized photopoint monitoring to document changes in alpine vegetation with a particular focus on areas subject to human trampling. Photopoints are photographs of a landscape area taken repeatedly from the same exact position, showing qualitative changes over a set time. Photopoint series were compared over time between mountains with regular steward presence versus mountains without a regular steward presence. These series showed a significant difference in vegetation change over time. Further monitoring and analysis of this data set is in progress, but results suggest that the Adirondack High Peaks Summit Steward program is making a difference in vegetation recovery in New York's alpine region.

The Monkton Amphibian Underpass

Presenter: Jim Andrews, Vermont Reptile and Amphibian Atlas

Vermont's first amphibian tunnels were built in 2015 and successfully allowed over 2,000 crossings this spring. I will discuss what makes a crossing area significant, how the crossings were designed, and show a short video of amphibians and other wildlife using the underpasses.
2:20 - 2:30
Coffee Break
2:30 - 4:00
Working Groups

Proposed, organized and run by meeting participants, this time allows for more structured networking and communication among current and potential collaborators. At the discretion of the organizer, participation may be open to all or limited by invitation, and most sessions will have five to fifteen individuals.


Confirmed working sessions include:

A new GIS tool for assessing forest risk from nitrogen deposition and climate change: hands-on workshop

Invitation-only

The GIS-based tool, Nitrogen Critical Loads Assessment by Site (N-CLAS) evaluates the impact of multiple stressors (N deposition and climate change) simultaneously for species of management concern on public and private forest lands. In addition to calculating species-specific critical loads, N-CLAS is designed to take into account the impact of site abiotic factors on the response of trees to N deposition. Application of N-CLAS across the northeastern U.S. allows us to evaluate which areas and tree species are most susceptible to impacts from N deposition. N-CLAS can determine the critical load and exceedance for individual tree species or all the species present. N-CLAS also provides information about the % of the area where deposition is in exceedance of the critical load and the % area by species at risk at any given deposition level. We are incorporating climate change scenarios in order to explore the interaction between climate change and nitrogen deposition. Thus, we will also be able to determine the fraction of the region that is susceptible to detrimental impacts of N deposition under projected climate scenarios. Use of this tool provides resource managers with a simple way to incorporate the current state-of-the-science knowledge into their planning and management decisions. This workshop will teach users how to work with this new tool to meet their resource management needs,

Organizer: Linda H. Pardo, USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station

Room: Aiken 101 (building next door to Davis Center)


Fine-Tuning a Wetlands Rapid Assessment Protocol

Open to All

The Vermont Wetlands Program is updating a rapid wetland assessment protocol which will be made available to use for the public and any stakeholders interested in helping build our knowledge of Vermont wetlands. Possible target groups include conservation commissions, land trusts, land management agencies, UVM students, motivated citizen scientists, and the different branches of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources - basically all attendees of the VMC. Data will be used to track the status of wetlands throughout the state, approximate the data that would be collected by more intensive surveys, and help select sites for these more detailed surveys. Come help us update this protocol so that it will be useful for the widest audience possible! We anticipate that this is something all of you would find helpful for your own use as well as to help build knowledge within the Wetlands program - and we know if you are a part of the protocol planning process, the methodology will be more useful to you!

Organizer: Charlie Hohn, Vermont Agency of Natural Resources - Wetlands Program

Room: Chittenden


Forest disturbance in the Northeast US: Synthesizing field data and forest health aerial surveys

Open to All

This working session will focus on identifying methods, data, and outputs for linking field-based observations of forest change with aerial detection surveys in the northern forest region. The organizers will present the current status of an initiative to combine forest health aerial surveys from NY, VT, NH, ME, and MA with research data funded by the Northeastern States Research Cooperative. Participants will be asked to review the initial work to date, suggest additional field data for inclusion, and explore ways of linking forest health and disturbance data at multiple spatial and temporal scales.

Organizer: Garrett Meigs, University of Vermont

Room: Frank Livak


How to best monitor for efficacy of invasive plant control efforts

Open to All

There are a number of initiatives to control Exotic/Invasive plant populations that impact a range of natural communities within Vermont. Funding, whether federal, state, or NGO, typical covers cost of treatment for a calendar year. I believe little work is being conducted to determine efficacy outside of the first season. As a result, we are at risk of spending limited dollars and increasing chemical burden without empirical evidence to justify the means.

Organizer: Robert Hyams, Lewis Creek Association, Habitat Restoration Solutions, LLC

Room: Jost


Vermont Water Monitoring Council Meeting

Open to All

The Vermont Water Monitoring Council serves to complement VMC's statewide work by convening a broad stakeholder group for whom the availability of water quantity and quality data is of significant interest. During this session, the Council will meet. Invited content is envisioned to include: 1) Flood forecasting models for Lake Champlain; 2) A sneak preview of modeling tools available to estimate phosphorus discharges from small-scale Lake Champlain catchments; 3) Updates to measured long-term phosphorus loads to Lake Champlain; 4) new developments in the LaRosa Partnership Program; 5) Introduction to the Clean Water Network; 6) Roundtable of updates from monitoring groups.

Organizer: Neil Kamman, VTDEC - Watershed Management Division

Room: Sugar Maple


VMC Management Portal Overview and Training

Open to All

Over the past year, several significant changes have been incorporated into the VMC’s Management Portal, a web interface that enables researchers to manage their projects and datasets, while providing a public-facing side, promoting discoverability and collaboration by end users. In this Working Session, the first half hour will be spent walking through a typical use case, paying particular attention to the new features of the portal and describing the benefits they provide. The expected outcome is that participants will be chomping at the bit to use the new system! Fortunately, the remaining hour will be dedicated to helping those participants migrate their data into the portal with VMC staff’s assistance available. If you plan to attend and have a dataset you wish to process, please bring it on a USB Flash drive, preferably in Comma Separated Values (CSV) format.

Organizer: Mike Finnegan, Vermont Monitoring Cooperative

Room: Silver Maple


4:00 - 5:00
Poster Session and Social Hour

Enjoy conversation, posters and a cash bar at the end of the day.

Accepted Posters:

Acoustic and visual monitoring of the spring phenology of snow, leaves, bugs, and birds on Mount Mansfield - John D. Lloyd, Vermont Center for Ecostudies

Characterization of immune genetic diversity in APOBEC3H in the Vermont population of Eastern bobcat (L. rufus) - Meghan Lavoie, Saint Michael's College

Continued Expansion of the Vermont Monitoring Cooperative’s Forest Health Monitoring Network - John Truong and Kirsti Carr, Vermont Monitoring Cooperative, University of Vermont

Critical loads of N in Class I Areas: species and sites at risk from exceedance - Molly Robin-Abbott, USDA Forest Service

Key Findings from the City of Winooski's I-tree Inventory: An assessment of an urban canopy's Ecosystem Services - Holly Kreiner, Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District

Lake Champlain Sea Grant - Elissa Schuett, UVM

Landscape scale assessments of forest productivity: methods, patterns and trends - Jennifer Pontius, USFS NRS and UVM RSENR

Long-term biological monitoring of Ranch Brook, Stowe, Vermont - Michelle Graziosi, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation

Mapping Tree Species across Northern New York and Vermont using Spectral Unmixing of Multi-temporal Landsat Imagery - David Gudex-Cross, UVM RSENR

Network Analysis for Watershed Management - Lindsay Barbieri, University of Vermont, Rubenstein School for Environment and Natural Resources & Gund Institute of Ecological Economics

Northeastern States Research Cooperative - Shari Halik/Elissa Schuett, UVM

The 2016 Impacts of Forest Tent Caterpillar in Vermont - Josh Halman, Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation

The Power of Communities: Investing in the future of healthy forests through invasive plant management and outreach - Elizabeth Spinney, Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation

Validation of a NN Weather Generator Methodology Based on North American Regional Reanalysis Historical Data - Rory Cummings, Community College of Vermont / Vermont EPSCoR RACC Grant (UVM & SMC).

Vermont Snowmobiling: Adaptation to Climate Change - William Valliere, University of Vermont