USDA National Institute of Food and AgricultureThe McIntire-Stennis Cooperative Forestry Research Program is funded through the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture as a formula-based program for forestry and natural resources research at land-grant and related universities. The program provides funding for critical state and regionally focused forestry and natural resources research, including graduate student support.

At the University of Vermont, these funds, approximately $500,000 annually, are managed by the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources as a competitive resource for research funding. The Rubenstein School uses McIntire-Stennis funds to develop research programs that result in a greater understanding of forestry and natural resource issues and practices and their effects on management, public policy, and economic and social systems. In 2014, the Rubenstein School adopted a new approach that creates teams of collaborating McIntire-Stennis-funded researchers studying an umbrella research focus.

For more information about the McIntire-Stennis Program in the Rubenstein School, please contact: Assistant Dean Rose Feenan or Dean Nancy Mathews.

 

Current Research

Adaptation and Restoration of Northern Forests: Collaborative Management of Forests at Risk Across the Urban to Rural Gradient

Northern hardwood forest in summer

Project Director: Anthony D'Amato
Co-Project Directors: Gary Hawley, Jennifer Pontius

Researchers will develop management options to promote diverse and productive rural and urban forests. They will collaborate with forest stakeholders to help guide management approaches as climate change and increasing disturbances alter ecological balances within regional forests. Conducting field trials of new management options in both forest and urban settings, researchers will assess what tree species and practices most effectively promote survival, growth, and other benefits as environmental conditions shift. They will develop maps and test risk assessment models to project where the new management options may be most needed. Learn more >>

 

Dynamic Forest-Stream Interactions: Experimental Acceleration of Late-Successional Stream Functions and Resistance to Flood Disturbance

Forest stream

Project Director: William Keeton
Co-Project Directors: William Bowden, Ana Morales-Williams, Jarlath O'Neil-Dunne, Clayton Williams

Researchers will evaluate how complex riparian forest structure associated with late-successional development, namely canopy gap formation and large woody material recruitment, influence stream ecosystem functions through effects on stream light and temperature, in-stream productivity, nutrient processing, and aquatic habitat characteristics, as well as changes in channel geomorphology and hydrology that relate to flood resistance. Learn more >>

 

How Well Do Working Forest Landscapes Work? Managing Maple for Sugar, Services and Species

Sap buckets on sugar maple

Project Director: Brendan Fisher
Co-Project Directors: Anthony D'Amato, Rachelle Gould

The state of Vermont is responsible for half of the U.S. production of maple syrup. Researchers will study how the intensity of maple sugar production affects biodiversity at forest stand and landscape scales, assess the impact of maple production on ecosystem services, understand the socioeconomic outcomes of maple production, synthesize findings related to biodiversity, ecosystem services, and economic benefits and tradeoffs across maple production landscapes in Vermont, and model future scenarios across the landscape to help develop sound policies for the management of Northern Forests for sugar, services, and species. Learn more >>

 

Initiating a New Integrated Research Program on UVM Research Forests

Jericho Research Forest sign

Project Director: Rachelle Gould
Co-Project Directors: Anthony D'Amato, Patricia Stokowski, Kimberly Wallin

This project re-initiates and expands the Rubenstein School research program at Jericho Research Forest and the other three research forests owned by UVM. Co-project directors and students integrate forest manipulations with investigations of value-based perceptions of native and non-native species. They are also developing research to evaluate the efficacy of UVM-based sustainability education involving the university's research forests. Learn more >>

 

The State of Carbon in Northeast Forests: Creating an Integrated Soil Carbon (iSoC) Inventory to Explore and Understand What Drives Variation in Soil Carbon Across Scales and With Management

Vermont forest landscape in fall

Project Director: Carol Adair
Co-Project Directors: Aimée Classen, Anthony D'Amato, Gillian Galford, Nathan Sanders

Soils are the largest terrestrial carbon sink and even small changes in soil carbon can affect atmospheric carbon. Enhancing forest soil carbon carries many benefits, including climage change mitigation, promotion of forest health, and regulation of water and nutrient flow. Researchers will identify and predict how drivers of forest soil carbon vary across local to regional scales to enable resource managers to promote soil carbon in managed forests in Vermont and the Northeast region.  Learn more >>

 

Partnerships

Mcintire-Stennis researchers depend on external partners to help ensure relevant research outcomes and provide critical matching funds to aid in the management and stewardship of Vermont forests.

Researcher measures diameter of old growth tree

Forest Ecosystem Monitoring Cooperative

Historically, McIntire-Stennis research in the Rubenstein School has been closely aligned with the activities of the Forest Ecosystem Monitoring Cooperative (FEMC), including joint funding of research projects such as the Forest Ecosystem Management Demonstration Project at the FEMC Mount Mansfield intensive research site.

By design, the FEMC brings together personnel from the USDA Forest Service, Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, federal and state fish and wildlife agencies, and private forestland groups such as Vermont Forest Products Association, The Nature Conservancy, and Vermont Family Forests. These stakeholders actively network and collaborate through the FEMC, providing many opportunities for McIntire-Stennis researchers to connect with land managers, other researchers, policymakers, and stewards. Such collaboration provides a formal structure to both inform and be informed by stakeholders who will ultimately use information and products generated by McIntire-Stennis activities.

McIntire-Stennis investigator and FEMC Principal Investigator Jennifer Pontius said, "Understanding the management objectives and options available to our stakeholders is imperative to ensure that the final products created as a part of our McIntire-Stennis program have maximum impact and relevance beyond the scientific community. The connection with FEMC ensures an ongoing two-way interaction with our stakeholders."

 

Researchers measure chestnut seedling

The American Chestnut Foundation

McIntire-Stennis research is helping to support The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) mission of restoring the American chestnut to eastern woodlands. Led by a plant physiologist from the USDA Forest Service and a forest geneticist from the Rubenstein School with expertise in developmental cold tolerance of forest trees, their research results will add to ongoing testing by the Foundation of a blight-resistant chestnut population.

"This research partnership is of great value to TACF, as it helps us expand and advance our research program and also contributes to the restoration of American chestnut to northern forests," said Kendra Gurney, New England Regional Science Coordinator for the Foundation, who  earned her Master’s degree from the Rubenstein School and completed research on American Chestnut restoration supported by McIntire-Stennis funds.

 

Two researchers in spruce fir forest

Impacts of a Past Project

High-Elevation Red Spruce Decline and Recovery

Co-PIs: Gary Hawley, Paul Schaberg
Partner: USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station

Researchers set out to learn how high-elevation red spruce foliar damage, during an episode of winter injury in 2003, affected forest carbon storage years later. They found the injury reduced growth of red spruce for at least three years with cumulative reductions across the landscape equivalent to the carbon produced by burning 280 million gallons of gasoline.

They also discovered something unexpected. Diameter growth is now the highest ever recorded for red spruce. Theories that researchers are eager to test include whether the growth turn-around can be credited to reductions in pollution made possible by the Clean Air Act of 1990 or if red spruce may be one of nature’s winners in the face of climate change and warmer winters.

Read more about this project >>