By Chris Schnepf
26th Annual Family Foresters Workshop
to be held Friday, January 19, 2018, in Coeur d’Alene, ID
Family-owned forests are vital to the economy and quality of life in the Inland Northwest. These lands are critical for wildlife habitat, timber supply, water quality, and many other values. Unique skills are required of foresters and other natural resource professionals who help family forest owners manage their property. The Family Foresters Workshop is designed to strengthen the skills of consulting foresters, state-employed service foresters, and other natural resource professionals who work with family forest owners. It serves as a forum to provide updates on emerging technology and knowledge applicable to family forestry.
This year’s program will be held at the Coeur d’Alene Inn (located off Interstate 90 at Hwy 95 exit) on Friday, January 20, 2017, Continue reading
By Liz Allen
As climate and agriculture researchers we’re constantly learning from farmers who we interact with. Our conversations with dryland wheat producers in the inland Pacific Northwest have shown us that many farmers are very skilled at managing for multiple risks at once and making decisions under various kinds of uncertainty. Climate models project substantial warming by mid-century (Figure 1) as well as more frequent storm events and more extreme minimum and maximum temperatures in the future. At the same time, a higher concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere may contribute to more rapid crop growth. As more detailed and sophisticated models of climate change and crop dynamics are developed, it is increasingly clear that managing under observed and projected climate change impacts will require new perspectives for farmers and other agriculture sector decision makers. Those involved in agriculture will need to develop their understanding of climate-related hazards and poise themselves to take advantage of emerging opportunities linked to a changing climate.
Figure 1. Cumulative growing degree days (base 32°F) 1971–2000 (left) and 2040–2069 represen¬tative concentration pathway (RCP) 8.5 (right), projections obtained from the AgClimate atlas. See the Climate Considerations chapter in Advances in Dryland Farming in the Inland Pacific Northwest for more information on how to interpret projections like this. (Source: Kruger et al. 2017)
TRIBES & FIRST NATIONS CLIMATE SUMMIT
DEC 13 – 14, 2017 | Tulalip Resort Casino Tulalip, WA
EVENT REGISTRATION | AGENDA (DRAFT)
Tribes and First Nations in the Pacific Northwest have made great progress in observing and documenting environmental change on their homelands, but climate change is increasing at a pace that challenges important ways of life. So Tribes and First Nations across the region are coming together to learn from past work and to discuss how to continue climate change studies to provide the support communities need to adapt and thrive for generations to come. This summit is being led by Tribes and First Nations for Tribal leadership and their staff.
Who Should Attend? Tribal elected and appointed leaders, resource managers, health specialists, traditional elders, scientists, students and practitioners will discuss current issues along four Summit Tracks.
Scholarship Request: 2017 Tribal & First Nations Climate Summit
IMPORTANT!!! Fill out this form ONLY if you are requesting a scholarship to help pay for costs related to the conference
By Chris Schnepf
Family forest owners make up a very large percentage of forested lands in many Northwest counties. (Photo – C. Schnepf)
Extension programs and other adult education efforts are almost always stronger when learners are actively driving program development. Learner enfranchisement is especially critical on topics such as climate change, which may be seen as controversial.
The University of Idaho has a master volunteer program titled the Idaho Master Forest Stewards (IMFS) which is based on a Participatory Action Research framework, a strand of qualitative research that emphasizes participants as partners in research and extension efforts. In 2008, a steering committee composed of family forest owners spent two one-day retreats to provide the initial guidance to the program, which continues to be led by Idaho Master Forest Stewards, with assistance from UI Extension and other agencies, with the ultimate goal of improving Idaho family forests’ health and growth. Continue reading
By: Andrew Shirk, Climate Impacts Group, University of Washington &
Sonia A. Hall, Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, Washington State University
Male Greater Sage-Grouse performing its mating display in a field
in Douglas County, Washington. Photo courtesy of Michael Schroeder.
Fields enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) have augmented native habitat and helped Greater Sage-Grouse avoid extinction in the agricultural landscape of eastern Washington after decades of decline (see part 1 of this series for details). Even though the local sage-grouse population has stabilized in recent decades, it remains highly vulnerable because it is still small and isolated from other populations. As we enter an era of rapid climate change, the right conditions for sage-grouse habitat may shift away from currently occupied areas, requiring populations to move and colonize new areas over a short period of time. And they must do so across a landscape that is now replete with major highways, urban areas, and other barriers to movement. And even if wildlife can cross these barriers, the area of suitable, available habitat may shrink under the future climate. Continue reading
By: Holly R. Prendeville, Coordinator for the USDA Northwest Climate Hub
Tree mortality due to flathead woodborer in southwest Oregon, photo take in June 2016. Photo by Bob Schroeter of the USFS
Weather in the Northwest has gotten more variable. We have recently experienced drought for two years followed by flooding in 2017. The 2015 drought coincides with future climate projections for the Northwest: warmer temperatures leading to lower and earlier melting of snowpacks. Though trees are locally adapted to climate and can tolerate moderate changes, rapid and large changes in climate may be beyond the capacity of some species. As we saw in 2015, longer and drier growing seasons affect tree regeneration, growth, and mortality. This poses challenges for foresters, which Chris Schnepf discussed in a recent article.
By: Doug Finkelnburg
“This is the first good news I’ve heard about climate change” was among the feedback received after delivering a talk about changes expected for Pacific Northwest’s agriculture. The audience was primarily ranchers attending the Northwest Grazing Conference in Pendleton, Oregon this past May. Scheduling conflicts prevented the talk’s author, Chad Kruger, director of the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources from attending, and with some trepidation I agreed to present the topic on his behalf.
For many Americans, climate change is at best an abstract challenge, seemingly serious but without immediately obvious specific threats to one’s life and business. To the skeptic, it is a political football and a dark conspiracy, some nefarious excuse dreamed up to gain economic and political advantage for one interest group over another. With this in mind I attempted to summarize and translate the results of Northwest-focused climate research to an audience I expected viewed the topic at large with some level of hostility.
Wheat production in the Northwest, where the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide and shifts in precipitation cycles are expected to deliver a “boost” to productivity of forages and small grains. Photo: Dennis Behm, under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
By: Andrew Shirk and Sonia A. Hall,
Male Greater Sage-Grouse performing its mating display in a wheat field
in Douglas County, Washington. Photo courtesy of Michael Schroeder.
Healthy ecosystems provide us with clean water, clean air, and rich soils, resources that help meet our needs and fuel our economies. They also support many wildlife species. If we can consider those animals as an indication of the state of these ecosystems, things look grim globally. We are losing species at least 100 times faster than what’s been the norm, based on the fossil record. Currently, 1 out of every 4 mammal species and 1 out of every 8 bird species is under threat of extinction, with more species becoming threatened each year. One of the main reasons for these grim numbers is loss of habitat, Continue reading
By Georgine Yorgey
Dryland crops are a common sight east of the Cascades, and cover a LOT of acreage in the Pacific Northwest – more than 5.8 million acres according to recent statistics. Over the last three years, a group of us at the WSU Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources (CSANR) have had the privilege of working with more than 40 co-authors (!) from our region’s three land grant universities – WSU, University of Idaho, and Oregon State University – and from USDA Agricultural Research Service to summarize the most up-to-date scientific knowledge about our region’s dryland systems. That work has now been published as a book, Advances in Dryland Farming in the Inland Pacific Northwest. With touchstone chapters on climate considerations (which has always played a predominant role in determining what crops can be grown) and soil health, this wide-ranging book has chapters on conservation tillage systems, residue management, crop intensification and diversification, soil fertility management, soil amendments, precision agriculture, weeds, diseases, and insects, and policy. We invite you to explore the books many chapters online here or download the entire book as a PDF. If you know you will want to read this book and refer to it over time, you can also receive a free printed version as long as funds allow, by ordering here.
The effort to produce this book, and its printing, was made possible with the support of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture through the REACCH project. This six-year project aimed to enhance the sustainability of Pacific Northwest cereal systems and contribute to climate change mitigation.
By Chris Schnepf
“Family forest owners own a large portion of forests in many PNW regions” (Photo – C. Schnepf)
Many westerners presume any forest they drive by is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. But nationally the largest portion of forests are owned privately. Even in the West, key regions have a very high percentage of private forests. For example, over half of the forests in the Idaho Panhandle are private.
Some people debate whether forestry should be considered part of agriculture. Like farmers, forest owners and managers are discerning how to adapt their management to a changing climate. But forestry in North America starts from a different point than most cropping systems. Continue reading