Switchgrass in Pine Plantations

In the southeastern U.S., loblolly pine plantations cover about 37 million acres of land. “Growing switchgrass in loblolly pine plantations could provide a sustainable source of biomass for cellulosic energy,” says U.S. Forest Service research hydrologist Devendra Amatya. “Growing the two species together could also help maintain the economic and environmental benefits of a forest…  More 

New Forest, New Water Yield

Today, forests abound in the southern Appalachians. However, there was a time in the early 1900s when many forests were harvested or cleared so that the land could be used to grow crops or provide pasture. “The forests that have returned may use water differently,” says U.S. Forest Service research ecologist Katherine Elliott. Elliott and…  More 

After the Acid Rain

“Rain has become much less acidic since the Clean Air Act was strengthened in the 1990s,” says U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) soil scientist Jennifer Knoepp. “However, some high elevation streams still have chronic or episodic acidity.” Acid rain, as well as other forms of acidic deposition such as acid fog and acid…  More 

Using Urban Forests to Manage Stormwater Runoff

We’ve read a lot lately about the innumerable human health benefits provided by urban trees and forests. Urban forest systems can also function as part of a city’s stormwater control system by intercepting rainfall and regulating the flow of water to and through the soil. Forests efficiently store stormwater, return water to the atmosphere, and filter…  More 

An Assignment in Africa Connects Forests, Water, and People

Steve McNulty, Ge Sun, and Erika (Cohen) Mack hiked for three hours on a winding trail over steep hills through land thick with trees and vines. They arrived at a pool and looked up at a towering waterfall. If they had stood at the top of the waterfall, they would have seen forested land stretching…  More 

Fishing for Clues to Mussel Decline in Horse Lick Creek

How do U.S. Forest Service research scientists take their experiments from the laboratory to the field? For a first-hand look at the field sampling and data collection, collaboration with Forest Service and university partners, and extensive planning that happens behind the scenes, I spent a day with the Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) Center for…  More 

Forests Provide Clean Drinking Water for the South

  For over 19 million people in the South – roughly the population of Florida – clean water begins in the region’s national forests. That’s according to a report by the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station published in late 2014. The report provides information at a level not previously available on the amount of surface drinking…  More 

On National Forests and Grasslands, All Droughts are not Created Equal

While some may remember 2002 as the year the United States hosted the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, celebrated A Beautiful Mind as the year’s best film, and created the Department of Homeland Security, others may remember it for another reason: drought. That year, more than half of the country was in a state…  More 

Protecting Water Quality in North Carolina’s Neuse River Basin

The Neuse River begins in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, and much of its 275-mile journey to the Atlantic Ocean is through forests that are managed for timber. A new study by U.S. Forest Service researchers evaluates Best Management Practices (BMPs) for silviculture operations to see whether water quality in the Neuse River Basin…  More 

Heat and Acid Could Squeeze Trout Out of Southern Appalachian Streams

A newly published research study that combines effects of warming temperatures from climate change with stream acidity projects average losses of around 10 percent of stream habitat for coldwater aquatic species for seven national forests in the southern Appalachians – and up to a 20 percent loss of habitat in the Pisgah and Nantahala National…  More