Life as a Radio Operator in the Communications Unit

“Communications, Taskforce Leader Peterson,” blurts the radio. “Communications, go ahead Taskforce Leader Peterson,” I say. “I would like to report a vehicle rollover on Highway 73. Please clear the airway for emergency traffic only.” The Communications Unit bursts into action. Someone alerts critical members of Type 1 Incident Command Team that we have an Incident…  More 

Mechanical Fuel Reduction Costs

Mitigating wildfire risk is a land management priority across the U.S. Reducing fuel loads through mechanical treatments can control understory and midstory vegetation and prevent fuel ladders that can spread fire from ground vegetation up into the canopy crown. A book chapter by USDA Forest Service scientists Dana Mitchell and Mathew Smidt summarizes costs, benefits,…  More 

Cross-Site Studies Take Root across the Southern Experimental Forest Network

Most of the 19 southern experimental forests were founded in the 1930s or 1940s. Over the past five years, they have become something new: the SRS Experimental Forest Network. “Each experimental forest is a regional asset,” says Stephanie Laseter, a USDA Forest Service scientist and network co-lead. Johnny Boggs is also a co-lead. “When part…  More 

The Southern Experimental Forest Network

The Southern Research Station of the USDA Forest Service manages 19 experimental forests that function as living, transpiring laboratories. They are scattered across 10 states, separated by hundreds of miles, and many are approaching 80 years old. Most of them are located on national forests. Five years ago, SRS began linking the 19 experimental forests…  More 

Hurricane Preparation and Recovery Guides for Land Managers

Climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of hurricanes. Southern forest, farm, and ranch landowners need to better prepare and plan for hurricane impacts. The USDA Southeast Climate Hub surveyed hurricane preparedness and recovery resources and identified a need for centralized guidance that is complete and consistent. The Hub teamed up with university extension…  More 

Silviculture for Open Forests

Grassy oak savannas and sunny pine woodlands were once a common sight across the eastern U.S. These open forests have fewer large trees in the overstory and a bounty of native grasses and flowering plants in the understory. Frequent fire limited tree regrowth and created the open canopy. USDA Forest Service scientist Don Bragg and…  More 

How Do Weather, Insects, and Diseases Impact Forests? It Depends

Forests of the southern U.S. are among the most productive and intensively managed in the world. Disturbances naturally alter forest stands, sometimes creating conditions that benefit plant or animal communities, but can cause major economic losses to landowners. What’s more, the impacts from one disturbance may invite other disturbances – dead and damaged trees can…  More 

Group Selection Harvest for White Oak Regeneration

Oaks are keystone species in forests across the eastern U.S. However, oak reproduction has been declining since at least the 1970s — old oaks still dominate the overstory, but a younger generation is not coming in behind. White oak, in particular, is valuable to wildlife and wood-dependent industries such as barrel, furniture, and cabinet making.…  More 

Climate Change and Red Spruce

Red spruce faces a variety of challenges in the southern Appalachians — from past exploitative logging to land use change and forest fragmentation, and now climate change. A three-year study funded by the National Science Foundation is investigating historic red spruce decline in abundance and range shifts — as well as how those shifts might…  More 

Top Ten of 2020

As 2020 comes to an end, it is a good time to gather our most-read CompassLive stories from the past year. Each one highlights the work of USDA Forest Service scientists at the Southern Research Station. We hope you enjoy reading this collection, which includes the most popular of 2020 plus a few more that…  More