Forest Service Research Stations Host Forest Soils Conference

The meeting was kicked off on Sunday night (June 16) with a welcome by retired Chief Gail Kimbell and RMRS Director Sam Foster. Gordon Warrington (USFS Geologist-retired) gave an overview of the local geology, soils and vegetation. From left, Jennifer Knoepp, Program Chair (SRS, Research Soil Scientist), Gordon Warrington, Gail Kimbell, Deborah Page-Dumroese, Site Chair (RMRS, Research Soil Scientist), Sam Foster.
The meeting kicked off on Sunday night (June 16) with a welcome by retired Chief Gail Kimbell and RMRS Director Sam Foster. Gordon Warrington (USFS Geologist-retired) gave an overview of the local geology, soils and vegetation. From left, Jennifer Knoepp, Program Chair (SRS, Research Soil Scientist), Gordon Warrington, Gail Kimbell, Deborah Page-Dumroese, Site Chair (RMRS, Research Soil Scientist), and Sam Foster.

The 12th North American Forest Soils Conference (NAFSC) hosted by USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain and Southern Research Stations (RMRS and SRS) was held in Whitefish, Montana, June 16 to 20, 2013. Jennifer Knoepp (SRS) and Deb Page-Dumroese (RMRS) co-chaired the meeting, with the theme “The Role of Forest Soils in Sustaining Ecosystem Services.”  Session topics included:

  • Soil Regulation of Water Quantity and Quality,
  • Forest Change Dynamics and Climate Change,
  • Impacts of Biomass and Bioenergy Production Systems on Soils,
  • Linking Science to Forest Policy, and
  • New Technologies in Soil Research.

The meeting included a field trip to Miller Creek Demonstration Forest on Montana’s Flathead National Forest and the Beaver Creek Watershed, a land parcel managed for Whitefish recreational opportunities, to maintain forest health, and reduce fire hazard. At both sites we observed the effects of parent material (the underlying geological material in which soil horizons form) and volcanic ash on forest composition and forest management practices.

We led a post-conference tour to the Stoltze Lumber Company (Columbia Falls, MT) to see their bioenergy co-generation facility and algae-aquaculture center.  Finally, we toured Glacier National Park to hear how the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service is mapping soils within the National Parks. In all, 146 soil scientists from 8 countries (including the United States) and 29 states attended. The group included 42 graduate students, most making poster presentations. Ten students received travel scholarships from the meeting sponsors and served as co-moderators for the oral presentation sessions.

A total of 36 Forest Service personnel attended; 19 made oral or poster presentations. SRS scientists involved in moderating sessions, presenting oral or poster presentations and helping with field tours were Carl Trettin, (Cordesville, SC), D. Andy Scott (Normal, AL), and Emily Carter (Auburn, AL).

The first NAFSC was held in 1958 at Michigan State University to bring together scientists who were interested in forest-soil relationships, and to give them an opportunity to discuss their research results and encourage future research in this area. Every five years thereafter, researchers from universities, industry, and government agencies have met to continue the tradition of discussing forest soils research from North America and around the globe, and where it may take us in the future.

For more information, email Jennifer Knoepp at jknoepp@fs.fed.us.

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