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The last few months at INR have been marked by new opportunities. We are finding and articulating different ways to incorporate our work into the Oregon University System’s research endeavors, INR staff have published a number of articles, students are playing more of a role in our work, other western states have expressed interested in the products of our Integrated Landscapes Assessment Project, and our ecosystem services work and transportation and the environment work are reaching national levels. INR continues to be active in the national iMapInvasives leadership; and, through our Portland State University office, INR and Washington State’s Natural Heritage Program will be co-hosting NatureServe’s national conference, Biodiversity without Borders, which will be held in downtown Portland in April 2012.
With best wishes we said good-bye to INR staff members who have been offered new career-enhancing opportunities. Renee Davis-Born has moved to the Ecosystem Services Coordinator for the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board and Kuuipo Walsh has a two year professional development opportunity as the GIS Certificate Director for Oregon State University. Congratulations to both of them and we look forward to continued collaborations.
Over the last several months I have been having individual conversations with state and federal natural resources agency leaders in Oregon and Washington and have been regularly participating in the Northwest Regional Environmental and Natural Resources Forum, the Governor’s Natural Resources Cabinet, and the PNW Cooperative Ecosystems Study Unit to better understand what information decision-makers need and how Oregon universities can play a better role in informing their decisions. I have also been meeting with faculty members at Oregon State University (OSU), Portland State University (PSU), and the University of Oregon (UO) to discuss ways in which the Oregon University System institutions can interact to contribute to natural resource decision-making in novel and integrated ways. I will continue these conversations and pursue other opportunities to forge new partnerships and fundraising opportunities, while enhancing existing partnerships for natural resources.
As you will see in this e-newsletter, INR staff continue to explore and develop opportunities to facilitate access to and use of science in natural resources decision-making. These articles highlight some of the many activities and projects of INR staff at PSU and OSU.
Finally, I’d like to congratulate INR advisory board member Esther Lev, Executive Director of The Wetlands Conservancy, as a recipient of Portland Monthly’s November 2011 “Light a Fire” award for the work she and The Wetland Conservancy are doing to make Portland a better place to live.
Happy holidays and a cheerful 2012 to you all,
Explore Oregon Farms and Farmer’s Markets through the Oregon Farm Explorer
Oregon’s rich diversity of farms and farmer’s markets can now be explored digitally through a new website. The Oregon Farm Explorer maps Oregon's rural and urban connections through an exploration of farms and markets using a variety of data collections, mapping tools, stories and other resources.
“The Oregon Farm Explorer presents a wonderful opportunity to learn about the bountiful food produced in Oregon,” said Anita Azarenko, head of Oregon State University’s horticulture department, “including what is raised here, where it is produced, and where to find it.”
The site allows visitors to find local, fresh, farm-grown produce, meats and cheeses with the Farmers’ Market Finder and its interactive maps, as well as learn about agricultural and horticultural crops and the livestock and dairy industries that support Oregon’s economy.
The site highlights the Oregon Century Farm & Ranch Program and can trace the spread of agriculture through the establishment of farms and ranches. A specially designed viewer maps farms and ranches that have received century and sesquicentennial awards, and provides detailed information by county.
The Oregon Farm Explorer was developed as a collaborative effort of INR, the OSU Libraries, and the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences. Oregon Explorer, a natural resources digital library, is a collaborative effort between OSU Libraries and the Institute for Natural Resources.
Transportation Framework Data
INR and the OSU Libraries recently completed Phase 1 of the Transportation Framework Theme for Oregon project. Phase 1 was the development and implementation of a Transportation Data portal within the Oregon Spatial Data Library (ODSL). Data users now are provided with a website that allows access to fully integrated statewide transportation framework data. Varying levels of permission determine which tasks a portal user is allowed to perform. Based on their permission levels, users are be able to do one or more of the following:
The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Oregon State University (OSU) continue to collaborate to develop an application to allow for the limited distribution of transportation data for the State of Oregon. Near-term objectives of the project include: developing a Transportation Data Portal that serves fully integrated statewide transportation framework data; providing limited access to restricted data based on user-login; and having user downloading based on a user-selected geographic region. Future phases of the project may include such deliverables as providing the ability for local and agency partners to suggest edits to road centerline data and serving additional spatial data beyond road centerline data, for example, traffic counts and crashes.
Oregon Explorer Updates Sites and Tools
Oregon Explorer (OE) is undergoing a couple of new and exciting changes to its portals and tools. Beta testing is underway for the upcoming Western Landscapes Explorer using Drupal. Drupal is an open-source web development framework for content management that has a large community of support, especially at OSU. If the testing is successful, we anticipate using Drupal will provide the Oregon Explorer team and partners with more efficient ways to update and contribute to content on the OE portals.
The second big change for Oregon Explorer is that the basic and advanced mapping tools are being upgraded. The current mapping tools are based on an aging technology and do not provide the same mapping experience to which users are becoming accustomed. To address this issue, the mapping tools are being upgraded to the Geocortex Essentials mapping framework. Geocortex Essentials, by Latitude Geographics, provides a framework architecture which will allow rapid deployment of sophisticated, easy-to-use, mapping applications and will give an improved interactive Oregon Explorer mapping experience to all who explore our sites.
Renee Davis-Born to Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board
In October, after seven years at INR, Renee Davis-Born moved to a new position with the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) as their Ecosystems Program Coordinator. While at INR, Renee served as a policy analyst on several projects including the Oregon Coastal Community Water project, the Columbia River Sediment Disposal Workgroup, and Climate Change Outreach project, among many others; managed the scoping and development of several Oregon Explorer (OE) portals; and led the OE Program as the OE Program Manager. During the last four years at INR, Renee split her time between leading the OE Program and serving on a 4-year professional exchange with the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board.
Renee has shown us time and time again her remarkable talents, her ability to convey the importance of the role information and access to information in natural resources decision making, and her steadfast friendship. She is highly respected throughout the Oregon natural resources management community and we can only expect that she will continue to rise through the ranks as an outstanding natural resource decision-maker.
While this is a good-bye to Renee as an INR employee, this is also a stepping stone to extending collaborations with her, OWEB, and wherever her future may lead. INR and the OE team will greatly miss her, but she can be assured that through INR, the Oregon State University Libraries, and the dedication of the OE Team, the Oregon Explorer Program will not go away!
Lisa Gaines will serve as the main point of contact for the OE Program. She will continue to work with the OSU Libraries, the Department of Administrative Services – GEO Office, and other partners and affiliates to promote and expand Oregon Explorer.
Payments for Ecosystem Services
Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES), a market-based approach to protecting and restoring the environment, is gaining growing attention from scholars, practitioners, and the conservation community. The interest is not just for its potential to enhance the services nature provides for society, but also for its potential to enhance the economic prosperity of the suppliers of those services, including agricultural landowners. There are a number of challenges associated with institutionalizing PES, many of which have to do with the demand side of the equation. In particular, who will pay landowners for their stewardship? To date, most PES schemes have relied on government funding, with a small amount developed through market-like trading.
This summer INR began work on a two-year PES project funded by the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The project is investigating two innovative approaches to funding PES with the Eugene Water and Electric Board and surrounding corporations of various sizes. Each of these entities has untapped capacity to leverage current incentive programs and generate hybrid models for further motivating land stewardship. Collaborators on this grant include OSU and the University of Oregon.
Associated research, designed with and funded by the Bullitt Foundation to dovetail with the NIFA project, will report on an inquiry into the institutional and ecological value of Ecosystem Service Districts as operating structures for public utilities interested in improving ecosystem service production as part of their response to the Clean Water Act.
Two Masters in Public Policy students, Hillary Fishler and Kelly Dickinson, are working on the NIFA-funded project. They have spent parts of the summer completing public utility-related internships with Earth Economics in Tacoma, Washington, and with Carpe Diem/Healthy Headwaters in Sausalito, California, and will continue to be a part of the team through the coming academic year. Cyndi Comfort, who recently completed her Masters in Environmental Sciences, also spent part of the summer working on background research for the Bullitt-funded project.
A group of graduate students from the School of Public Policy is also working on an INR-OSU and U.S. Forest Service collaborative studio class, helping design and conduct scenario-planning workshops in central Oregon, where stakeholders are considering responses to wildfire under changing development and climate patterns. The class will conduct this research and engagement over three terms, producing data and a report that will contribute to an NSF-funded three-year grant studying Coupled Natural Human Systems in fire-dominated landscapes.
The Ecosystem Commons
The Ecosystem Commons online community continues to grow. The site has nearly 500 registered members who are using the Commons as a platform for engaging with ecosystem services professionals. A series of provocative positions have been taken in the Ecosystem Commons Soapbox, which is a featured community-wide discussion. We have a great lineup of future topics and will continue to feature this kind of dialogue among the wider community. Much of the activity at the Commons has been within groups, which are subsets of the community organized around particular topics or regions of interest. These workspaces offer a central space for colleagues to engage in discussions, collaborate on wikis, contribute to a document repository, and share calendars, all with integrated email notifications to keep the team abreast of new developments.
Working Toward Integrated Conservation and Transportation Planning
Through a research project funded by the Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences, INR and its national partners developed an ecological assessment process and framework to integrate conservation planning and transportation planning. The project resulted in the 9-step “Integrated Ecological Framework” (IEF) that: (1) takes into account the barriers transportation agencies experienced when working to implement ecological approaches to transportation planning, and the scientific and technical processes needed to implement ecological approaches; (2) brings together a variety of well-tested methods, data, and tools into a cohesive ecological assessment framework; (3) takes into account regulatory assurances for resources regulated under the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act; and (4) provides guidance about how transportation agencies could develop and use ecosystem crediting systems and markets. For each step in the IEF, critical data needs and a number of tools that could greatly facilitate implementation of the Framework were identified. The IEF is linked to a transportation decision guide on the Transportation for Communities (TCAPP) website.
The project team pilot tested the framework in Oregon, Michigan, and Colorado to see if the new approach would result in different decisions, outcomes, or time and cost savings when compared to the traditional planning and project delivery system. The Transportation Research Board was pleased enough with the results of the research that they provided an additional grant for INR to do outreach to the transportation and regulatory communities, and provide technical support to four additional projects they funded to test the methodology.
As part of the outreach, and in partnership with the Federal Highways Administration, the INR team helped to conduct a November 2011 workshop in Washington D.C. on ways to best implement the IEF across the country. The IEF is a congruent technical framework to the Eco-Logical approach, developed by eight Federal agencies in 2006, which recommends a collaborative, integrated, watershed or ecosystem scale approach to decision-making during infrastructure planning, environmental review, and permitting.
The project team included researchers from INR, NatureServe, Venner Consulting, Parametrix, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Florida State University, Michigan State University, CH2M Hill, and URS Consulting.
A Successful Summer for Oregon's Snowy Plovers
Working with partners at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Siuslaw National Forest, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, INR-Portland continues to coordinate monitoring of the threatened Snowy Plover along the Oregon coast. The 2011 field season was our most successful ever; the adult population was estimated at 247-253 (up from 232-236 in 2010) and 170 chicks were confirmed fledged (more than double the number of chicks fledged in 2010). Survival over the winter of 2010-2011 was excellent for both adults and chicks, and this contributed to the success of the summer season. Of particular note, sites along the central coast (Florence to Tenmile Creek) saw improvements in nest success and fledging success. This expansion of the area where the birds are successful will be important to long term recovery of the species.
In an effort to better understand nest predation and disturbance, we utilized a high quality motion-activated video camera at some nests in 2011, and were able to observe detailed nesting behavior and disturbance. Information gathered from the camera will allow us to target our nest protection measures more effectively.
INR staff working on the Snowy Plover have recently been quoted in the Winter 2011 edition of Coast and Kayak Magazine, and interviewed in a summer-released U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service video Working for Plovers.
Integrated Landscape Assessment Project
We are nearing the finish line with the Integrated Landscape Assessment Project (ILAP). More than 50 positions have been funded wholly or partially from this American Recovery and Reinvestment Act project since January 2010. The Vegetation Modeling team completed all of the forest, woodland, shrubland and grassland state-and-transition models for the Northwest region (Oregon and Washington). Models for the Southwest region (Arizona and New Mexico) are expected to be finished by the end of this calendar year. The GIS team is pulling all of the ILAP modeling inputs and outputs together in a database that is accessible from a FTP site to project team members and partners. Both of these teams are located in the INR-Portland office. Major partners for this ILAP “science delivery” component include the Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station and Regional offices (Regions 3 and 6), Ecosystems Management, Inc., and the University of New Mexico.
The ILAP Climate Change and Watershed module led by Gordie Reeves, Forest Service and OSU College of Forestry, has completed their work which involved development of a watershed analysis tool and database called NetMap. For NW watersheds that contain Forest Service lands, the data can be downloaded at: http://www.netmaptools.org/coverage. NetMap can be used to address fluvial geomorphology, aquatic habitat development, erosion, watershed disturbance, road networks, wildfire, hydrology, large wood in streams and climate change impacts.
Much progress is being made with the other “knowledge discovery” modules of ILAP. The best way to learn about this work is to view an archived webinar at http://oregonstate.edu/inr/ilap-webinars. The first round of ILAP module webinars focused on methodologies, while the second round focuses on draft outputs and interpretations by each of the ILAP team leaders for the GIS, Vegetation Modeling, Wildlife, Fuel Characteristics, Fuel Treatment Economics, Community Economics, Climate Change and Decision Support modules. The third round of webinars will focus on the landscape analyses associated with each of these themes. Monthly webinars are planned to extend through December 2012 and are open to anyone interested in joining them.
In March 2011, ILAP was acknowledged as one of eight exemplary case studies in the Nation by the Farm Foundation and selected for presentation at the Foundation’s Agriculture, Food, Nutrition and Natural Resources Research & Development Roundtable in Washington, D.C.
ILAP Arid Lands Update
Although the Integrated Landscape Assessment Project (ILAP) is better known for its work in forested lands, we have also made significant progress in characterizing vegetation dynamics of arid lands in Washington, Oregon, New Mexico and Arizona. ILAP seeks to address some of the pressing issues in arid lands throughout the west, including characterizing the effects of invasive species such as cheatgrass and buffelgrass and the uncharacteristically frequent and severe fires they bring to our rangelands, addressing expansion of juniper woodlands into shrublands and grasslands, and predicting shrub invasion into the historic grasslands of the southwest.
At the heart of the effort is the construction of vegetation dynamics models that characterize alternative vegetation states and the processes that cause dynamic change in natural landscapes. Arid land vegetation models characterizing 19 nonforested ecosystems have been run for the Pacific Northwest, and the resulting maps of cheatgrass (shown above) and juniper invasion risk under various scenarios of alternative management activities have generated interest from agencies and nonprofit organizations.
ILAP arid lands work for the Pacific Northwest has been presented at two scientific conferences, including the International Association of Landscape Ecologists meeting in April, which featured a special session where many ILAP team members presented their work, and at a state-and-transition modeling conference in June. Collaborative efforts are underway with the help of many partners in Arizona and New Mexico to build vegetation dynamic models for the southwest, and analyses will be completed in the next few months. We hope to expand the arid lands work that has been started under ILAP to include adjacent regions of the Great Basin and to incorporate many of the other components of ILAP that currently are being conducted for forested lands, including analysis of wildfire fuel characteristics, carbon, and economic evaluation of alternative management scenarios.
iMapInvasives, an online, collaborative invasive species database and GIS program implemented by the Oregon Invasive Species Council and managed by the Oregon Biodiversity Information Center, continues to gain support in Oregon and across the U.S. New York, Florida, and Vermont are all online, with Arizona and Virginia close to being rolled out. Several other states are showing interest in joining the network as well. Lindsey Wise has been active in the national iMapInvasives leadership as the lead for participating states, and is organizing the second annual iMapInvasives partners meeting taking place at the 2012 NatureServe Conference to be held in Portland, Oregon. The Oregon iMapInvasives is supported by several Soil and Water Conservation Districts, The Nature Conservancy, Metro, the Oregon Marine Board, and several other agencies and organizations. Currently over 100,000 observations of 150 species are shown. With each version update of the software, more detailed observation and management records and collaboration tools become available. The next update is due to be released soon.
The Urban Long-Term Research Area Exploratory (ULTRA-Ex) Project
The National Science Foundation Urban Long-Term Research Area exploratory (ULTRA-Ex) project is entering its second year after a highly productive summer of data-gathering. The six projects within ULTRA include focused research efforts on water quality, riparian greenstreets, stormwater, landscape metrics, education and civic ecology. The larger focus of the project is a comparison of the effects of different kinds of governance in Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington on urban resilience. A broadly integrating uber-survey will be implemented in early January. The survey fills a social science research gap identified after other research began and seeks to clarify residents’ beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes towards natural resource management in their urban environment. Investigators currently anticipate that a request for proposal for a permanent ULTRA will be released in the first half of 2012.
Enhancing Research through Data Management
INR will be working on several data management projects including GIS management over the next year. Joe Bernert and Jennifer Dimicelli are completing the support for the Integrated Landscape Assessment Project (ILAP) and supporting other INR related projects including the Urban Long-Term Research Area (ULTRA) project, the Willamette Water 2100 project, and the USFS Region 6 Database project for Economic and Employment reporting.
The Willamette Water 2100 is exciting because it links a large number of database management and geographic information systems (GIS) with recent data and modeling activities in the Willamette Basin. Of particular interest is linking spatial and temporal data representing climate, hydrology, ecology and socioeconomics together to feed modeling activities of researchers at OSU, PSU and UO.
We are currently using several database solutions such as Oracle, SQL/Server and Access to build efficient database designs, online analytical processing (OLAP data cubes) for fast data processing and linking data to GIS databases.
Convening: The Oregon Coastal and Marine Data Network
In partnership with the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, the Institute for Natural Resources convened a group of 38 coastal and marine data producers and users from Oregon, Washington, and California for a two-day workshop. Participants of this invitation-only workshop identified and prioritized issues, solutions, and action items that would enable coastal and marine data producers and users to be long-term data stewards; and drafted an initial framework for an Oregon Coastal and Marine Data Network, a user community network to address coastal and marine data stewardship and technical concerns.
Though the initial focus of the Oregon Coastal and Marine Data Network workshop was designed to serve the needs a broad community of agencies and institutions directly engaged in coastal marine spatial planning, it was refocused to include the wider coastal and marine data user community. Workshop participants are working to test the Network through proof of concept of a relevant and solvable issue – shoreline data.
With the recent release of our workshop report coinciding well with the development and planning of an upcoming West Coast Governors’ Agreement (WCGA) regional data network workshop in December, the Oregon Coastal and Marine Data Network hopes to have an opportunity to help shape the discussion on a regional level.
The Oregon Coastal and Marine Data Network workshop was funded by the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, and Oregon Sea Grant.
Convening: Oregon Conservation Strategy and Climate Change
Over the past year, INR has been working with Defenders of Wildlife, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, The Wetlands Conservancy, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to conduct a series of workshops to identify climate change impacts and adaptation strategies to be included in the Oregon Conservation Strategy. The first two workshops were convened in Newport, Oregon (coastal estuaries) and Eugene, Oregon (oak-dominated habitats). The final workshop was held October 2011, in Burns, Oregon – Managing landscape change in Oregon’s Northern Basin & Range: Learning from past, present, and future climates – focusing on sagebrush and closed-basin wetland habitat. Approximately 120 representatives of universities; local, state, tribal, and federal government; local community groups; private land owners; and non-governmental agencies participated in the workshops.
Key themes identified by participants in the estuary workshop included: many familiar conservation tools remain useful and important in a changing climate (i.e. agricultural lands easements, dike removal managing uplands for water storage), land use planning is a critical part of climate change adaptation in Oregon’s estuaries, identification of climate and non-climate priorities for research, and the strong need for science translation and synthesis products. Also discussed was that while more research is needed, people should continue and add some flexibility or adaptive management to on-going restoration projects. The need for more research was recognized but people should also strive to include flexibility or adaptive management into on-going restoration projects. The coastal estuaries workshop summary can be found on the ODFW website.
Those participating in the oak-dominated habitat workshop identified key opportunities for management or policy intervention that might improve the ability to reach conservation goals in a changing climate, possible actions for each opportunity, and critical uncertainties that need to be resolved before moving ahead with adaptation strategies. The oak-dominated habitat workshop summary can also be found on the ODFW website.
Workshop materials from the sagebrush and closed-basin wetland habitat workshop will soon be posted as well.
New Natural Resource Economy (NNRE)
Through a grant from the Ford Family Foundation, INR has been working with the Institute for Policy Research (IPRI) at the University of Oregon, to get a ‘snapshot’ of New Natural Resource Economy (NNRE) business types in Oregon. An economic development framework based on sustainable uses of a multifunctional landscape—one that includes production, consumption and preservation—holds potential to reinvigorate rural economies and provide greater economic autonomy while maintaining important natural and cultural assets. However, there has been little empirical study of these new uses of the rural landscape in a comprehensive form.
To that end, Sue Lurie of INR and Michael Hibbard, IPRI Director, conducted a scoping survey of NNRE activities across Oregon. The survey was administered using an electronic mailing list of 340 “community ambassadors” from the Ford Institute Leadership Program. Scoping survey results, broken down into multifunctional landscape categories, can be found in an article published in the September issue of the Western Rural Development Center’s Rural Connections. Hibbard and Lurie also conducted three rural community case studies to understand NNRE in the context of different landscapes and socio-cultural and economic settings. The case studies included the town of Vernonia, Grant County, and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.
The survey and case studies are the first step to developing a framework to help communities think creatively about how NNRE can help local economies and to inform decision makers at the state level about policy and programmatic changes needed to foster NNRE entrepreneurialism. It also comprises the basis for a more extensive research agenda to add to understanding regarding the policy needs and implications of NNRE for sustainable rural economic development.
Meet Cally Whitman
Cally Whitman is the new Student Office Assistant for INR and IWW, working to maintain each institutes website and publish H2OSU, the IWW’s weekly newsletter, as well assisting on the INR Newsletter.
Cally is a native Oregonian who grew up on a farm outside of Bend Oregon. She earned her undergraduate degree at OSU in Microbiology and Biology, with a minor in Chemistry in 2004 then worked as a chemist and microbiologist for the City of Bend. Cally enrolled in the Water Resource Graduate Program in 2009 and is now seeking a Master’s degree in Water Resource Policy and Management with a minor in Water Resource Science. Her research focuses on agricultural participation in water markets, effects of land use changes on rural water management institutions and natural resource conflict management.
In the past year Cally has been active in the WRGP, organizing the first annual Water Day, a student lead conference exploring water related graduate research at OSU. Cally is based in INR’s Corvallis Office and can be reached at 541-737-6437, or Cally.Whitman@oregonstate.edu
Welcome, Cally! We’re happy to have you on the INR-IWW team!
The Institute for Water and Watersheds Celebrates 50 Years at OSU
The Oregon Water Resources Research Institute (OWRRI) was one of the first water institutes in the nation and this year celebrates 50 years of continuous operation from its headquarters at Oregon State University. The Institute has gone through many changes over the past five decades, morphing from OWRRI, to the Center for Water and Environmental Sustainability (CWESt), and finally the Institute for Water and Watersheds (IWW) but has always sought to link OSU and other researchers within the Oregon University System to important water issues in Oregon. IWW’s mission now is to facilitate water research in Oregon through water quality lab services and newsletters, as well as coordinating and supporting collaborative water research. An annual seminar series has been sponsored by the OSU water center since 1964.
To celebrate this milestone the 50th Anniversary New Water-Year Party was held on September 30, 2011. Approximately 80 water experts converged at the Brew Station in Corvallis to view film producer Sarah Sheldrick’s most recent documentary, The Institute for Water and Watersheds at OSU. The film includes interviews with previous directors of IWW and the current Chief of External Research with the USGS, an OSU alumnus.
Thanks to all that have helped the Institute grow over the past five decades, the IWW looks forward to 50 more years of supporting water resources research in Oregon.