This Website is Obsolete!

This section of the website is out of date. This page has most likely been erased from our heirarchy, or been moved to a new location.

Forest Values Accomplishments

Susan Fox Ass't. Dir. | Southern Research Station | 200 W.T. Weaver Blvd | Asheville, NC 28804

The interface between people and forests is the key to sustainable forest ecosystems. SRS scientists are developing methods and tools to better understand this interface and address the resulting effects on forest ecosystems and the broad range of services and values people obtain from forests.

Defining Socially-Optimal Fuel Programs
Production and Costs of Biomass Removal from National Forest Lands
Examination of Differences between African American Visitation to National Forests in the South and Hispanic Visitation to National Forests in the Southwest
Defining Socially-Optimal Fuel Programs
One of the most important and elusive issues regarding fire management is defining the “best” amount of fuel treatments to apply to a forested landscape.
more..
Production and Costs of Biomass Removal from National Forest Lands
The National Forests in Alabama are seeking non-traditional ways to remove unmerchantable material to reduce fuels and improve forest health and wildlife habitat. 
more...
Differences between African American and Hispanic Visitation to National Forests
Recent data from the Forest Service's on-site National Visitor Use Monitoring Survey (NVUM) shows that visits made by African Americans
more...
Southern Biofuels Assessment Program Recreation Visits to Wilderness and Primitive Areas National Leader in Recreation Research
Southern Biofuels Assessment Program
Woody biomass is primarily a raw material for either structural wood-based composites or as a thermal feedstock for the generation of energy.
more..
Recreation Visits to Wilderness and Primitive Areas
Station researchers, using data from the Census, the National Visitor Use Monitoring Project, and the National Survey on Recreation and the Environment developed models to examine national participation and use of wilderness and primitive areas for outdoor recreation.
more...
National Leader in Recreation Research
For over 30 years the Forest Service and the Recreation Research Unit in Athens, Georgia has been a recognized leader in forming partnerships to address needs for information and technology to support better policy and management of public lands.
more... 

 


Defining Socially-Optimal Fuel Programs

One of the most important and elusive issues regarding fire management is defining the “best” amount of fuel treatments to apply to a forested landscape.  The definition of optimal treatments is difficult because: (1) the effectiveness of treatments are difficult to measure and vary over time, (2) treatment costs are variable and are influenced by the scale of operations, (3) the damages from fire, which span timber, human health, tourism, and personal property losses, are complex and depend on the region, and (4) future fire occurrences are inherently uncertain. Station researchers have, over the course of five years, completed a series of studies to address each of the elements of this large question, and for the first time, have provided a complete answer. Using data on forest resources, meteorology, fire occurrence, and economic impacts within a probabilistic modeling framework, they have built a state-of-the-science assessment of prescribed burning to address how prescribed fire programs affect total social welfare at a broad scale. Their capstone analysis, applied to Volusia County in Florida, defines the optimal prescribed burning regime for a broad range of potential fire scenarios. The results indicate that, not only does the current prescribed burning regime generate gains in social welfare, but that these gains would exceed the costs of burning for a considerable expansion in the prescribed burning program.  While landowners currently burn about 4-5 percent of forests per year, the socially optimal treatment is approximately 13 percent of forests per year. Jeff Prestemon (jprestemon@fs.fed.us)
Back to top

Production and Costs of Biomass Removal from National Forest Lands

The National Forests in Alabama are seeking non-traditional ways to remove unmerchantable material to reduce fuels and improve forest health and wildlife habitat.  Two Districts, the Shoal Creek and the Oakmulgee, have implemented biomass removal projects to explore new methods of accomplishing their land management goals.  In 2006, biomass was chipped and delivered to a pulp mill for fuel chips.  Building on the success of that project, a new collaborative project was initiated with support from the FPL Biomass Grants program.  The new study is examining thinning and processing as feedstock for co-milling in coal-fired power plants.  A key obstacle has been to find appropriate in-woods processing equipment that would produce acceptable chip material for the power plant.  A prototype chipping machine was developed by a manufacturer specifically to create small “chips”.  Southern Station researchers are studying the production rates and costs of chipping and grinding this unmerchantable material into an energy product with the new machine as a potential cost-effective alternative to mulching, piling, or burning the material. Dana Mitchell (danamitchell@fs.fed.us)
Back to top

Examination of Differences between African American Visitation to National Forests in the South and Hispanic Visitation to National Forests in the Southwest

Recent data from the Forest Service’s on-site National Visitor Use Monitoring Survey (NVUM) shows that visits made by African Americans to national forests in the South account for very low visitation percentages in the region. This is surprising given that African Americans are highly concentrated in the South, and that both rural and urban black populations live proximal to national forests in several southern States.  In contrast, Hispanic visits to national forests in the Southwest are high, relative to their population proportion. We examined additional national level household data from the National Survey on Recreation and the Environment (NSRE) relating to awareness of Federal lands and management to help understand the discrepancy between Hispanic and Black recreational use of Federal lands.  We hypothesized that awareness of Federal agencies, knowledge of management objectives, and attitudes about user fees would explain Black/Hispanic visitation differences; however, strong differences remained after accounting for these factors. To help understand these differences, more precise data may be obtained from both institutional and personal factors, including regional differences in agency support for visitor diversity; sub-cultural values as they relate to wild land places; and private land ownership in each region for the respective groups. C. Y. Johnson (cjohnson09@fs.fed.us)
Back to top

Southern Biofuels Assessment Program

Woody biomass is primarily a raw material for either structural wood-based composites or as a thermal feedstock for the generation of energy. One of the ways energy can be recovered from wood is by a thermochemical process in which wood particles are subjected to extremely high temperatures in an anaerobic environment. This process yields synthesis gas (“syngas”) that is a mixture of methane, hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide.  Syngas can be used as a gaseous fuel or as the starting material in a secondary reaction that yields liquid transportation fuels such as ethanol, gasoline, or diesel. There exists two basic obstacles to the production of bioenergy from woody biomass:  (1) the lack of information regarding the chemical and physical composition of woody biomass from southern forests and plantations; (2) lack of efficient conversion technologies. Southern Research Station scientists are undergoing an extensive study over the next 5-year period that will investigate three areas of bioenergy research. The first area will be woody raw material characterization, done in conjunction with other work such as forest genetics, tree breeding and physiology research with genomics technology to determine the effects of specific genes and gene combinations on bioenergy traits and overall feedstock performance.  Secondly, we will evaluate the efficacy of various conversion techniques (gasification, pyrolysis, fermentation) in relation to the chemical/physical composition of the woody biomass. Finally, we will evaluate the impact of biomass removals on fuels loading, soil quality, water quality, and forest ecosystem health. Les Groom (lgroom@fs.fed.us)
Back to top

Recreation Visits to Wilderness and Primitive Areas

Station researchers, using data from the Census, the National Visitor Use Monitoring Project, and the National Survey on Recreation and the Environment developed models to examine national participation and use of wilderness and primitive areas for outdoor recreation. Their findings corroborated previous studies suggesting that racial minorities, immigrants, urbanites, and females participate less in primitive area recreation. In related work, they examined the relationship between visitation and personal, structural, and psychological constraints to wildland recreation use. Seventeen structural, personal, and psychological constraints related to health, facilities, socioeconomic standing, and other personal factors were examined using regression methods. Results revealed minorities, women, lower levels of income and education, and elderly populations were more likely to perceive they were significantly constrained from visiting wilderness.  Using Census data and estimated models, the researchers projected future participation and use in order to assess recreation pressure on wildlands.  In general, their findings indicate that over the next 40 years, wildland recreation users and use will increase but at a rate less than general population growth.  In fact, per capita participation in wildland recreation is expected to drop more than 15 percent.  Nevertheless, when combined with a nearly 50 percent increase expected in the general population, a net increase in participants of about 25 percent and about a 20 percent increase in wildland site visits annually.  Furthermore, if management and acculturation can influence a reduction in perceived constraints by certain demographics, the increases are likely to be greater. The increase in site visits combined with a dwindling amount of wildland acreage due to development pressures  will present challenges to land managers and to the Agency’s goal of providing  high-quality outdoor recreation opportunities while sustaining natural system quality. J. M. Bowker (mbowker@fs.fed.us)
Back to top

National Leader in Recreation Research

For over 30 years the Forest Service and the Recreation Research Unit in Athens, Georgia has been a recognized leader in forming partnerships to address needs for information and technology to support better policy and management of public lands.  This on-going partnership has involved multiple Federal agencies, State associations, private associations and universities.  Projects have included the Federal Estate Visitors Survey, the Public Area Recreation Visitors Survey, the Customer Use Survey, the National Visitor Use Monitoring Survey, the National Recreation Survey, and most recently the National Survey on Recreation and the Environment (NSRE).  The NSRE involves the Forest Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States Coast Guard, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, other Federal agencies, the National Association of Recreation Resource Planners, the University of Georgia, the University of Tennessee, and the State University of New York. H. Ken Cordell (kcordell@fs.fed.us)
Back to top