News and Events

Insights from the 2016 Southern Appalachian Wildfires

Depending on their timing and location, fires can destroy or restore, with little gray area in between. In the early fall of 2016, one specific fire event in Southern Appalachia was unlike any other in recent decades, leaving behind unprecedented devastation once the fire had ceased. From this disastrous fire season comes a recent report authored by USDA Forest Service scientists, led by Natasha James, offering a close analysis of wildfires on public lands in the Southern Appalachians.


American Ginseng, in the Forest and in the Marketplace

American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is a plant of great value. Tens of thousands of pounds are harvested from the wild each year. But the average harvest amount has dwindled, while price has skyrocketed. “It’s pretty unusual that the more effort put towards producing something, the less is produced,” says USDA Forest Service researcher Greg Frey. “It indicates a backward-bending supply curve.”


Women in Science: Karen Abt

Meet SRS scientist Karen Abt, a research economist with the Forest Economics and Policy unit in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. Her team studies the economics of forest disturbances, forest polices and tax programs, and forest product markets. Their research strives to improve the economic foundation for natural resource management and decision making.


Firesetting Arrests Reduce Future Intentional Fires

New research by the USDA Forest Service explores how law enforcement efforts might impact future incidents of arson. “We found very little documented research on whether arrests, as a distinct measure of law enforcement efforts, are linked to reductions in the occurrence of intentional fires or whether such efforts have broader impacts across space and time,” says Jeff Prestemon, the study’s lead author and project leader for the Forest Economics and Policy research unit.


Future Increases in Biomass Demand Could Affect Wood Economy

Wood is used for an abundance of everyday items — furniture, buildings, paper — so much so that it would be difficult to find a space completely without wood-based products. However, a competing use is emerging: many studies predict that more wood will be used for bioenergy in the future, which could affect that industry and the conventional wood products industry on many levels.


SRS Contributes to Fourth National Climate Assessment

Long hours, lots of reading, and collaborating with fellow scientists around the world is some of what goes into overseeing a chapter for the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4). SRS senior research ecologist James Vose was a federal coordinating lead author and chapter lead for Chapter 6 – Forests of the NCA4. SRS senior economist Jeffrey Prestemon served as a chapter author.


Promoting Ecosystem Services with State Property Tax Programs

Every state in the U.S. offers tax breaks to forest landowners. But the details vary significantly – which makes it hard for policymakers to compare the programs, as a team of researchers from the USDA Forest Service and the University of Minnesota has shown.


Southern Timber Hit Hard by Hurricane

Hurricane Michael roared through Florida, Alabama, and Georgia on October 10 and delivered a hard hit to timberland owners and timber markets.


Lumber Builds the Future

“Lumber and economic growth are tightly connected,” says USDA Forest Service scientist Jeffrey Prestemon. “At a certain rate of GDP growth, you get a certain path of lumber consumption.”


Agroforestry Strategies for Landowners

Two recent USDA Forest Service publications focus on agroforestry practices. The national report Agroforestry: Enhancing resiliency in U.S. agricultural landscapes under changing conditions reviews five widely recognized categories of agroforestry: silvopasture, alley cropping, forest farming (or multistory cropping), windbreaks, and riparian forest buffers. The report includes an overview of the potential role of agroforestry in each region across the U.S.


Forest Landowners’ Guide to the Federal Income Tax

Tax tips for forest landowners for the 2017 tax year are now available online. Linda Wang, the U.S. Forest Service national timber tax specialist, prepares the tips each year.


The Thorny Economics of Preventing Exotic Species Introductions

What if we lose tree species we know, love, and need? It has happened before.

“Look at what happened to the American chestnut,” says U.S. Forest Service research forester Thomas Holmes. “Look at what’s happening right now to hemlock, redbay, and ash trees.” All three species, as well as many more, are threatened by non-native insects or pathogens.


Women in Science: C. Meghan Downes

Meet Cara (Meghan) Downes a research economist who recently joined the Southern Research Station Economics and Policy unit at the Forestry Sciences Laboratory, Research Triangle Park, NC. Downes received her doctorate in Environmental and Resource Economics from the University of New Mexico. Prior to coming to work for the FS, Downes was the Associate Professor of Economics at New Mexico State University (NMSU).


Estate Planning for Forest Landowners

Family forest owners may use consulting foresters or state extension foresters for advice on the technical details of land management, but many owners shy away from seeking help with how best to pass their forest land on to the next generation. Poor estate planning — or no planning at all — can result in the next generation inheriting a tax bill that requires selling timber or the forest land itself, which in turn can lead to subdivision and development.


Forest Landowners Guide to the Federal Income Tax

Tax tips for forest landowners for the 2016 tax year are now available online. Prepared by Linda Wang, U.S. Forest Service national timber tax specialist.


Climate and Society Will Determine the Future of Wildfire in the South

A new study by U.S. Forest Service scientists and collaborators projects a four percent increase overall in acres burned by wildfire in the Southeast by 2060, but with substantial uncertainties and large variations by state and ecoregion, including a 34 percent increase in acres burned due to lightning-caused fires.


Wildfire Suppression in 1916

A window into the early years of fire fighting is available online due to the persistent efforts of Southern Research Station scientist Jeff Prestemon.


The Benefits of Forecasting Human-Ignited Wildfires

Fires set by people are a real problem for wildland fire managers on all types of land ownerships, including tribal lands. Because they usually occur closer to valued property and resources, human-set fires also tend to be more damaging than fires ignited naturally. Human-ignited wildfires fall into two categories – incendiary, or intentionally set fires, and those started accidentally.


What’s Wilderness Worth?

In 1964, Congress protected areas where, according to the Wilderness Act, “the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” Wilderness areas now cover approximately 5 percent of the United States – over 100 million acres.


Help for Forest Landowners: Estate Planning

Family forest owners may use consulting foresters or state extension foresters for advice on the technical details of land management, but many owners shy away from seeking help with how best to pass their forest land on to the next generation. Poor estate planning — or no planning at all — can result in the next generation inheriting a tax bill that requires selling timber or forest land, which in turn can lead to subdivision and development.


Forest Landowners Guide to the Federal Income Tax

Tax tips for forest landowners for the 2015 tax year are now available online. Prepared by Linda Wang, U.S. Forest Service national timber tax specialist. The information was updated on February 3, 2016. The second page contains an important change on Depreciation and Sec. 179 Expensing.