Tag: US Forest Service

Science Brief: Integrating focal and priority species needs to inform restoration design on the South Fork Stillaguamish Vegetation Project

Overview
A conservation planning framework that applies what we know about birds as indicators of forest structure and composition can inform landscape level planning and stand level restoration. Such planning strives to achieve restoration goals that benefit entire forests and the animals that inhabit them. We selected focal bird species that are representative of old growth forest conditions, and then, within the focal species framework we included the needs of priority wildlife and plant species. By cross-walking a focal and priority species approach, we identify current and desired conditions, recommend prescription components, and implement monitoring to measure treatment effectiveness. Klamath Bird Observatory has partnered with the Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians, Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe, and Puget Sound Bird Observatory to form a technical advisory team which is working side by side with the Regional Forest Service Avian Conservation Program Manager and USDA Forest Service Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest staff to inform restoration planning. Collectively, this team has integrated focal species needs into planning for the South Fork Stillaguamish Vegetation Project and designed a robust monitoring strategy to measure ecological outcomes.

This vegetation project is occurring in densely stocked Late Successional Reserves (areas set aside to provide old growth habitat). The Forest has identified ~3000 acres where commercial thinning of trees <80 years of age would be both feasible and beneficial to old growth dependent species within a project area of 65,000 acres. Restoration goals are to promote stand development and characteristics of old forests, e.g. broadleaf plants, structural diversity, standing dead trees, and coarse woody debris on the ground. Thus, thinning is designed to promote tree species diversity, structural complexity, and understory cover at the treatment site and contribute to landscape scale goals for Late Successional Reserve habitat diversity over the long-term.

Prioritizing where restoration would have the largest impact
At the onset of the partnership, the technical advisory team looked at areas that the Forest had assessed for potential restoration and identified the upper South Fork Stillaguamish drainage as a conservation priority. The area is designated as a Late Successional Reserve and is currently comprised largely of second growth stands that are adjacent to large contiguous stands of mature and old growth forest. Forest restoration treatments that accelerate the development of older forest characteristics will have added value in this landscape by reducing fragmentation and creating larger blocks of priority forest age structure. Klamath Bird Observatory applied avian climate models and determined that this area is a good candidate for climate smart restoration — that is, the desired conditions align with what climate models project for the area over the next 50-100 years. The upper South Fork Stillaguamish drainage also lends itself well to monitoring — it has good road access, a reasonable number of replicates for treatment and control stands with similar vegetation and age structure, and is a reasonable size to implement both stand and landscape level monitoring.

Integrating the Partners in Flight Conservation Planning Framework
The technical advisory team worked with the forest planning team to inform restoration planning, including stand level treatment prescriptions. Klamath Bird Observatory, working closely with the Regional Forest Service Avian Conservation Program Manager, applied focal species information from applicable Partners in Flight conservation plans. We identified current and desired conditions based on a suite of focal landbird species indicative of specific stand attributes, structure, and condition. Tribal partners identified additional plant and wildlife species that are management and/or cultural priorities in the planning area. Collectively, working within the sideboards of the Forest Service environmental assessment, we established measurable habitat objectives to achieve desired habitat conditions based on the habitat needs of focal species.

Because focal species informed planning, we applied the same approach to develop a short and long term monitoring strategy that will measure treatment effectiveness and inform adaptive management. Klamath Bird Observatory worked with the Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians to design site and landscape scale monitoring. By measuring changes in bird communities and vegetation we will be able to assess whether restoration treatments have the desired result, and because a suite of birds serve as indicators of various forest components, we will be able to assess whether the forest is on a trajectory toward older forest conditions over the next 20-50 years. The Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians in partnership with the Puget Sound Bird Observatory are completing bird and vegetation monitoring, in part, through citizen science. Achieving long-term monitoring goals is dependent on partnerships, and this project provides a great example of how various organizations can bring expertise to the table to accomplish goals in a cost effective manner. Data are being contributed to Avian Knowledge Northwest, a regional node of the Avian Knowledge Network and thus, also contributing to this larger avian data collaboration with the potential to inform regional management challenges and conservation planning at even broader scales.

Informing Science-based Evaluation and Expansion of Protected Areas

***NEWS RELEASE: May 8, 2017 6:15 AM PDT***

John Alexander, Executive Director, Klamath Bird Observatory, 541-890-7067, jda@klamathbird.org

Ashland, OR – New study demonstrates an improved approach to ensure protected areas enhance and conserve biodiversity. The results of the study were used to inform expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.

A team of researchers from the Klamath Bird Observatory, Point Blue Conservation Science, and other partner organizations used big data and fine-scaled modeling to 1) evaluate an existing network of protected areas in the Klamath Siskiyou Bioregion of southern Oregon and northern California, and 2) to identify and prioritize new areas for protection. The study used birds as indicators of important habitats and biodiversity.

The researchers found that the region’s protected areas, including seven National Parks and Monuments, were protecting coniferous forest habitat. However, adequate amounts of grassland and oak woodland habitats were not being protected. Birds that are associated with these under-protected habitats have been identified as at-risk at both national and regional scales and the conservation of grasslands and oak woodlands has become a priority.

Results from the study identified some protected areas where grassland and oak woodland birds did occur, as well as additional areas that, if protected, would increase the amount of priority birds protected by the region’s Parks and Monuments. Specifically, these priority habitats occur within the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and on adjacent multiple-use lands. This scientific insight informed science-driven recommendations to expand the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. With support from Oregon’s US Senators Wyden and Merkley, President Obama signed an executive order on January 12, 2017 increasing the size of Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument by more than 45,000 acres resulting in more protection for grassland and oak woodland birds.

“This study offers robust scientific evidence that expanding the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument provides critical protection to an amazing ecosystem found nowhere else in the world, and will serve Oregonians well for decades to come,” said Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley. “National monuments are American treasures that belong to the people.”

This study and its application offer an improved science-based approach to evaluating protected areas and identifying and prioritizing new areas for protection. The results were published today by the Ecological Society of America in a special feature of the journal Ecosphere, Science For Our National Parks’ Second Century. The special feature highlights the crucial value of long-term monitoring and scientific inquiry and the role of science in informing natural resource management and conservation on public lands. This research was completed with support from the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and US Forest Service and contributes to the Partners in Flight bird conservation initiative. A gigantic amount of data used for this research was made available through the Avian Knowledge Network. The paper can be accessed online at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ecs2.1799/full.

Citation: Alexander, J. D., J. L. Stephens, S. Veloz, L. Salas, J. Rousseau, C. J. Ralph, and D. A. Sarr. 2017. Using regional bird density distribution models to evaluate protected area networks and inform conservation planning. Ecosphere 00(00):e01799. 10.1002/ecs2.1799

Click here to download a zipped press package: News Release – Science informs protected area evaluation and expansion (RELEASE DATE 5-8-2017)

Click here to download a PDF of this News Release: News Release – Science informs protected area evaluation and expansion (RELEASE DATE 5-8-2017)

 

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About Klamath Bird Observatory:

Klamath Bird Observatory advances bird and habitat conservation through science, education, and partnerships. We work in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the migratory ranges of the birds of our region. We developed our award-winning conservation model in the ruggedly beautiful and wildlife-rich Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion of southern Oregon and northern California. Emphasizing high caliber science and the role of birds as indicators of the health of the land, we specialize in cost-effective bird monitoring and research projects that improve natural resource management. Also, recognizing that conservation occurs across many fronts, we nurture a conservation ethic in our communities through our outreach and educational programs. Visit Klamath Bird Observatory at www.klamathbird.org.

About Point Blue Conservation Science:

At Point Blue Conservation Science (Point Blue), our 140 staff and seasonal scientists conserve nature through science, partnerships and outreach, on land and at sea. Using our long-term data, we identify and evaluate both natural and human-driven change over time. We work hand-in-hand with governmental and non-governmental agencies as well as private interests to help ensure that every dollar invested in conservation yields the most for biodiversity and our communities. Visit Point Blue at www.PointBlue.org.

About Avian Knowledge Network:

Avian Knowledge Network is a network of people, data, and technology working together to improve bird conservation, management, and research across organizational boundaries and spatial scales. Visit the Pacific Northwest node of the Avian Knowledge Network at www.AvianKnowledgeNorthwest.net.

About Partners in Flight:

Partners in Flight is a network of organizations advancing the conservation of birds via sound science, integrated conservation partnerships, habitat delivery, and targeted citizen outreach. Visit Partners in Flight at www.PartnersinFlight.org.

Just Published State of North America’s Birds Report Is a Call to Action

*** NEWS RELEASE—FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ***

May 18, 2016

Media Contact: John Alexander, Executive Director Klamath Bird Observatory

541-890-7067; jda@klamathbird.org

 

 To mark the 100th anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty, the North American Bird Conservation Initiative has published the State of North America’s Birds report. Through a groundbreaking collaboration between the United States, Mexico, and Canada this report evaluates birds of nine key ecosystems across the continent. The report highlights two key aspects of bird conservation that are core to Klamath Bird Observatory’s science, education, and partnership efforts in southern Oregon and northern California. First, science driven conservation works, and second, our continent’s birds still need our help.

The Report’s authors found that where an investment is made in healthy habitat management, birds are doing well; and healthy birds mean healthy ecosystems. They provide several examples, including southern Oregon’s Klamath Siskiyou Oak Network collaboration of Lomakatski Restoration Project, Bureau of Land Management, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service and Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Klamath Bird Observatory and others. The Klamath Siskiyou Oak Network has leveraged $4.5 million of combined federal and non-federal resources to restore over 3,000 acres of oak woodlands across our region, with another 3,000 acres to be restored by 2020. This work is being guided by and evaluated with KBO research and monitoring using oaks-associated birds as indicators of success.

The Report also presents a Watch List that identifies one third of North America’s bird species as high risk, including the Olive-sided Flycatcher. Klamath Bird Observatory research shows that in our region the Olive-sided Flycatcher is associated with fire and related forest conditions. This is just one example of the many indicator species that Klamath Bird Observatory studies, with results informing forest management. The State of North America’s Birds report emphasizes the importance of such studies, because quality, not just quantity, of our temperate forests, is critical for forest birds. In the West, fire plays a key role in maintaining high-quality forest ecosystems, and Klamath Bird Observatory is working to show how this understanding, and the use of birds as indicators, can inform management our western forests. This application of science and bird conservation priorities to address pressing forest management challenges, with an intention to protect and restore our forests, and thereby stop the steepening declines of our western forest birds.

This new State of North America’s Birds report is a call to action. Of North America’s 1,154 bird species, 432 are now considered of “high concern” due to low or declining populations and growing threats from habitat loss, invasive predators, and climate change. Migratory birds connect people to nature and provide multiple benefits – ecological, economic, agricultural, aesthetic, and recreational – for people and the natural environment. Therefor our governments, industry, and the public must once again come together to support migratory bird conservation. The 2016 Report and past State of the Birds reports archive are available at www.StateOfTheBirds.org.

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Klamath Bird Observatory, based in Ashland, Oregon, is a scientific non-profit organization that achieves bird conservation in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the migratory ranges of the birds of our region. We developed our award-winning conservation model in the ruggedly beautiful and wildlife-rich Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion of southern Oregon and northern California, and we now apply this model more broadly to care for our shared birds throughout their annual cycles. Emphasizing high caliber science and the role of birds as indicators of the health of the land, we specialize in cost-effective bird monitoring and research projects that improve natural resource management. Also, recognizing that conservation occurs across many fronts, we nurture a conservation ethic in our communities through our outreach and educational programs.

The U.S. North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI) Committee is a forum of government agencies, private organizations, and bird initiatives helping partners across the continent meet their common bird conservation objectives. The Committee is working to secure a bright future for North America’s more than 1,150 species of birds, in conjunction with NABCI partners in Mexico and Canada to increase cooperation and effectiveness of bird conservation efforts among the three countries. The NABCI Committee’s strategy is to foster coordination and collaboration on key issues of concern, including bird monitoring, conservation design, private lands, international collaboration, and state and federal agency support for integrated bird conservation.  

For more information about the North American Bird Conservation Initiative:  www.nabci-us.org/

New study shows how wildfire changes forests and the birds that live there a decade after a mixed-severity fire in southwest Oregon

Quartz Fire in 2013, 12 years after the fire, with a healthy shrub understory and standing dead trees.  Photo copyright Jaime Stephens.

PRESS RELEASE — FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AUGUST 17, 2015

Contact: Jaime Stephens, jlh@klamathbird.org, 541-944-2890

Ashland, Oregon: As much of the West is experiencing drought-related wildfire, new research on the effect of wildfire on forests and bird communities has just been released. Researchers from Klamath Bird Observatory just published results from a 10-year study looking at the effects of the 2001 Quartz Fire that burned in southwest Oregon. They found that not only did the forest structure change dramatically over time, but the bird community changed as well, with many species benefitting from the fire, a finding that was only obvious at the end of the 10- year period. In addition, the researchers documented the role of the fire’s severity showing that for half of the species affected by the fire their response was dependent on fire severity more so than simply whether the area was burned.

This study is important because it looks at the interacting effects of fire severity and time since fire, and provides forest managers with scientific evidence of how wildfire can create a forest that meets the needs of both wildlife and forest management, especially as forest restoration efforts are increasing. Their results are published in the journal The Condor: Ornithological Applications (http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1650/CONDOR-14-58.1?journalCode=cond&).

The Quartz Fire of 2001 burned over 6000 acres of mixed conifer broad-leafed forest (a mix of conifers and trees such as Pacific madrone and black oak). Wildfires are an important part of southwest Oregon forests, and usually burn in a pattern called mixed-severity – which means the fire burns unequally, in a patchwork of lightly to heavily burned areas interspersed with unburned patches. The resulting mosaic is important for wildlife and healthy forests.

“One important takeaway from our study was the interaction of fire severity and time since fire. Often, fire-related studies measure the short-term impact and compare only burned versus unburned areas, however, in this case, we saw bird species that initially decreased, increasing by the end of the study and doing so with greater magnitude in areas that were more severely burned,” says Jaime Stephens, Klamath Bird Observatory’s Science Director and the study’s lead author.

Olive-sided Flycatchers are often associated with burned forests, where open habitat, in combination with standing dead trees, creates abundant foraging opportunities.  Photo copyright James Livaudais.

Some of the birds that increased over the longer term were species like the Olive-sided Flycatcher, a species of conservation concern in the West. Immediately after the fire, this species was decreasing, but over time, it increased because areas that burned with high-severity resulted in standing dead trees where the flycatchers nest, and a shrub understory re-growth that provided the flycatchers with ample insect food. The House Wren, Lazuli Bunting, and Lesser Goldfinch had a similar story – they increased in areas that were burned and more so with increasing fire severity. The length of the study shed light on how a forest recovers from a mixed severity burn, detecting patterns that otherwise would have gone unnoticed.

“After more than 100 years of fire suppression, and now exacerbated by the effects of climate change, our forests may be at-risk of burning at uncharacteristically high severities. Today, forest managers are trying to remedy this problem with thinning and controlled fire, however, these common techniques sometimes fail to replicate the impact of a natural wildfire,” says Jaime Stephens, Science Director, Klamath Bird Observatory.

“The findings of this study can inform management actions, particularly when objectives relate to maintaining or improving ecosystem function” says Jena Volpe, Fire Ecologist, Bureau of Land Management. “Additionally, having long-term post-fire data, relevant to southwest Oregon, greatly improves our understanding of vegetation succession and fuel condition changes across our diverse landscape.”

So what does the study mean for forest management? The challenge of managing western forests in the face of climate change, drought, and a history of fire suppression is not easy. Results from this study show the importance of management techniques that mimic conditions created by a mixed-severity fire: a patchwork forest type, an abundance of snags, and allowing natural regeneration of shrubs. Using these techniques will make it more likely future fires will burn in a mosaic pattern as well, which will benefit birds and create healthy forests for years to come.

This study was funded by the Joint Fire Sciences Program, Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, Bureau of Land Management Medford District, and Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 Title II.

Klamath Bird Observatory (www.klamathbird.org) is fueled by partner-driven science programs. We use birds as indicators of the healthy and resilient ecosystems on which we all depend. Our science involves three integrated aspects: 1) long-term monitoring, 2) theoretical research, and 3) applied ecology. We bring our results to bear through science delivery involving partnership driven engagement in conservation planning, informing the critical decisions being made today that will have lasting influences on the health of our natural resources well into the future. Klamath Bird Observatory’s award-winning model was developed in the ruggedly beautiful and wildlife-rich Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion. We now apply this model more broadly throughout the Pacific Northwest. Plus, our intensive professional education and international capacity building programs expand our influence into Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.

Click here for a PDF of this press release.

Click here for a press packet with a PDF of this press release and high resolution images.

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Study results represent the first published documentation of El Niño’s influence on the survival of a resident tropical landbird and suggest that mature, un-fragmented forests may offer refuge in a changing climate

Oecologia July 2015

*** SCIENCE BRIEF AND NEWS RELEASE ***

*** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ***

June 23, 2015

Contact: Jared Wolfe, jdw[AT]klamathbird.org, 262-443-6866

Habitat alteration due to forest clearing and climate change threaten wildlife populations across the globe. To better understand the interacting effects of habitat degradation and climate on bird populations, researchers from the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW), Klamath Bird Observatory, and Costa Rica Bird Observatories spent 12 years studying the White-collared Manakin, a fruit-eating tropical bird, in mature and young forests along the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. During the study, several El Niño and La Niña events—cycles of warm and cold ocean temperatures that influence air temperature and precipitation—resulted in very marked dry and wet annual conditions that allowed researchers to measure differences in manakin survival relative to climatic shifts. Results were recently published as the cover article in the journal Oecologia July 2015 edition.

In young tropical forests, researchers found dramatic decreases in manakins’ survival during dry weather associated with El Niño. Researchers believe that, due to a sparser canopy and their fragmented nature, the young forests were more susceptible to understory drying that reduced fruit production. Conversely, manakins’ survival rates were higher during wet years associated with La Niña events in these young forests where increased moisture and sun exposure likely led to an abundance of fruit resources. In mature forests, researchers observed very stable manakin survival rates regardless of climatic shifts, suggesting a relatively constant abundance of fruit resources.

“The complex structure of mature forest is thought to serve as a climatic refuge, buffering fruiting plants from climatic changes resulting in stable manakin survival,” says Jared Wolfe, a postdoctoral researcher with PSW and Klamath Bird Observatory and the study’s lead author. “Climatic refuges, such as mature tropical forests, may be important for many resident tropical bird species faced with the decreasing availability of mature forests coupled with increases in the severity of El Niño-associated dryness.”

These study results represent the first published documentation of El Niño’s influence on the survival of a resident tropical landbird. Researchers believe that variation in manakin survival between forest types provides insight into the sensitivity of certain species to habitat alteration. “From a management perspective, understanding how climatic events affect biodiversity is critical for the development of science-based conservation strategies,” says Pablo Elizondo, the Costa Rica Bird Observatories’ executive director and co-author of the study.

This publication represents an ongoing collaboration between Klamath Bird Observatory, the US Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station and International Programs, and the Costa Rica Bird Observatories.

To view the Oecologia paper click here.

Click here to view a pdf of this science brief and news release.

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Klamath Siskiyou Oak Network to Host Oak Woodland Restoration Field Day

<img class="size-full wp-image-2850" src="http://klamathbird.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Acorn-Woodpecker-c-2015-Livaudais-72dpi-3xX.jpg" alt="Acorn Woodpecker (c) 2015 Jim Livaudais" width="216" height="288" title=" Acorn Woodpecker
(c) 2015 Jim Livaudais” />

*** PRESS RELEASE — For Immediate Release ***

On June 27, 2015 the Klamath Siskiyou Oak Network (KSON) will host an Oak Woodland Restoration Field Day, designed to provide an opportunity for landowners and land managers to learn about oak restoration on their lands. This half-day event will be held at several properties in the Colestin Valley between Ashland and Yreka, where a large-scale private lands oak conservation partnership program has been underway for the past decade. A series of presentations by restoration professionals, agency managers, wildlife biologists, and private landowners will highlight current oak restoration and management approaches, the habitat value of oaks for birds and other native wildlife, and how landowners can access technical resources and funding for restoration.

The KSON partnership conserves oak habitats on private and public lands in the Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion of southern Oregon and northern California. KSON partners include non-governmental organizations, local state and federal agencies, Native American tribes, and private citizens. The Oak Woodland Restoration Field Day represents an important part of KSON’S goal to promote oak conservation and restoration by providing opportunities for practitioners and community members to engage on issues affecting threatened oak habitats. KSON members from Lomakatsi Restoration Project, Klamath Bird Observatory, Bureau of Land Management, Natural Resource Conservation Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and US Forest Service will be present to offer their unique perspectives on oak restoration. This event will be an excellent opportunity for landowners and managers to meet others who share an interest in habitat conservation and restoration of oak savannas and woodlands, and to discuss the best ways to preserve these precious natural resources into the future.

The Field Day is free, but space is limited and registration is required. This event is planned for 8:30 am to 2:30 pm, and participants will need to provide their own lunch. For more information, including registration and carpool information from Ashland or Yreka, or for more information about KSON, please contact KSON Coordinator Kate Halstead at 541-201-0866 ext 7#, or at keh@klamathbird.org.

INFORMATION CONTACT:
Kate Halstead, Biologist & KSON Coordinator
Klamath Bird Observatory
keh@klamathbird.org
541-201-0866, ext 7#

Click here to view pdf of this press release.

Click here to view event flyer.

Click here to download print quality image of Acorn Woodpecker (c) 2015 Jim Livaudais.

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