Summer in the meadow

Summer in the meadow
Beaver Creek, Idaho, USA

Friday, October 24, 2014

Wrapping up Restoring the West 2014 (#RTW2014)

"We're going to focus on the riparian basics, like well-played football, we're going back to basics, tackling, running, blocking...We're going to talk about the processes that make riparian ecosystems what they are..." (paraphrase)

Beaver dams on the main stem Logan River, UT, USA
And so began my talk at Restoring the West last Wednesday. It was a cathartic moment, and one that was nearly seven months in the making. The conference we'd been planning since March was more than half done, and I was three slides deep on my talk. It was my contribution to the technical sessions, but it wasn't the only task leading up to the moment. We had 235 people from across the American West show up to discuss riparian ecosystems local and global. It was record-setting attendance and some of America and the world's foremost experts on streams and riparia presented their work alongside regional land managers and project planners. I met and hosted two new friends, went for a couple runs with acquaintances new and old, saw lots of friends and colleagues in the larger riparian research and restoration community, and slept very, very little. After getting ten hours of sleep last night, and reflecting for a moment, it was great.

Beaver Creek, UT, USA, 30-minutes from #RTW2014
Highlights:

  • Dave Merritt, Heida Diefenderfer, and Bob Beschta leading off and anchoring the festivities as keynote speakers.
  • Meeting numerous folks whose work I had encountered, or built on in my own research, including Marc Coles-Ritchie, Lindsay Reynolds, Bob Beschta, and many more.
  • Actually meeting Dave Merritt in person after a couple years of phone and email exchanges on riparian guilds and community ecology.
  • Seeing and hearing from Heida Diefenderfer, Mike Scott, John Stella, Malia Volke, and Alex Fremier once again. They're all impressive researchers and individuals who were very generous with their time over the course of the week. Thanks to Pat Shafroth for turning up even though he wasn't presenting.
  • ET-AL putting in some serious work on numerous posters and talks. Big ups to Elijah, Alan, Martha, Nick, Wally and Joe (who gave the pre-RTW webinar).
  • No last-minute cancellations or day-of-show technical difficulties.
  • Running/hiking with Alex, Dave, Nate, Emily, Daniel, and Julian on separate occasions.
  • Christy Meredith from USFS giving a really nice talk on the differences in ways to analyze stream habitat trends using monitoring data.
  • The always personable Kent Sorenson representing UDWR and his Watershed Restoration Initiative-sponsored applied restoration projects.
  • Mary O'Brien talking collaboration and decision-making in watershed management across the Colorado Plateau.
  • ET-AL student lunch with federal scientists on Thursday.
  • Good press from UPR, the Herald Journal, and USU QCNR leading up to the conference.
  • Great attendance for a regional conference and no poorly attended talks throughout the two days.

Dave Merritt and Lindsay Reynolds Tuesday morning talk mash-up
Lowlights:

  • A couple speakers who committed early had to cancel over the summer and their presence was missed. 
  • Apologies that the vegetarian options at lunch were very, very limited.
  • Limited twitter use for the conference made it hard to upsell the work on display beyond the conference venue itself.
  • Shin splints and sleep deprivation.

Wally MacFarlane discusses BRAT

So, after much hard work by USU Forestry Extension's Megan Dettenmaier, Darren McAvoy, and Mike Kuhns and a committee of USU faculty, affiliates, and a student, Restoring the West 2014 is in the books. A big thanks to all of the speakers, poster presenters, attendees and sponsoring organizations. A conference is only as good as those who turn up and deliver talks, posters and participation. I have to reiterate my gratitude to Heida, Dave, and Bob for keynoting the conference and getting us started and finished on high notes.


Friday, October 17, 2014

#Riparian research and #RTW2014 featured on Utah Public Radio @USU_Ecology @CNRUSU


Kerry Bringhurst was kind enough to sit down and chat with me about riparian ecosystems, Restoring the West, and stream restoration last week. The piece ran on UPR this morning in advance of next week's Restoring the West conference here at Utah State. Thanks to Kerry and UPR for the coverage and all they do to promote science, natural history and research at Utah Public Radio.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

@SWS_org Diversity Mentoring Program - call for applications!

Direct from the Society of Wetland Scientists:

"Students - the SWS Diversity Program is accepting applications for the 2015 Undergraduate Mentoring Program


The SWS Undergraduate Mentoring Program is dedicated to increasing diversity in the field of wetland science by offering undergraduate students from underrepresented groups full travel awards to the SWS 2015 Annual Meeting held in Providence, Rhode Island, May 31 – June 4, 2015. Student winners will receive valuable career mentoring as well as exposure to professional networking forums. This program is supported by the National Science Foundation and several SWS Chapters.
Applicant RequirementsStudents must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States and enrolled in a degree program (part-time or full-time) leading to a baccalaureate or associates degree. Recipients will be selected based on academic promise, interest in exploring a career in the natural sciences and potential for serving as a mentor. Visit the SWS Undergraduate Mentoring Program webpage for more information and to apply today! Please contact Dr. Vanessa Lougheedwith any questions. Application deadline is November 7, 2014."



Last year's SWS Undergraduate All-Stars!

Having participated in the last two undergraduate mentoring program cohorts as a mentor, I've found the program to be an excellent opportunity for students and mentors alike. It's great to meet some of the most talented up-and-comers in the realm of wetland science, and hear their experiences, ambitions and share stories. I can't speak highly enough of this program and am proud that the SWS-PNW chapter has been very involved in both mentoring and sponsorship capacities. Frank Day and the SWS human diversity committee have done a great job in putting this program together and keeping it continuously funded through a combination of NSF, ESA SEEDS, and SWS Chapter sponsorship. Kudos to all organizers and participants in the program over the years.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Restoring the West (#RTW2014) speaker preview


Next week, beginning on Tuesday, October 21, the 2014 offering of Utah State's Restoring the West conference kicks off. This year, the agenda is stacked with global experts in riparian ecology, conservation, restoration and management. While the whole group is excellent from top to bottom, I'm particularly excited to see a few talks. To preview the conference, I've briefly outlined the speakers whom I'm really stoked for. In chronological order of their Restoring the West talk times, here are five speakers that I'm especially looking forward to:

1. David M. Merritt, USDA Forest Service, Fort Collins, CO, USA

Dave Merritt needs little introduction to those who work on rivers of the northern hemisphere. At the turn of the millennium Dave wrote a seminal paper with David Cooper that compared the vegetation of the regulated Green and free-flowing Yampa Rivers. At the time, this study was one of the only comparisons in vegetation between regulated and unregulated rivers, and by far the largest. It brought in the era of environmental flows and stream conservation made famous by LeRoy Poff, Julian Olden, Christer Nilsson, et al. and has been cited nearly 300 times. Dave followed this up by doing his PhD work with Ellen Wohl, also at CSU, leaving a paper trail a mile long and a hundred feet wide. One part plant ecologist, one part hydrologist and another part geomorphologist, Dave writes big papers on big, often regulated rivers, often with strong conservation and management implications. Most recently, he has been pushing forward the concept of riparian flow guilds, a trait-based approach to assessing riparian plant diversity in response to hydrologic variability. I was excited to give Dave a call when I worked at the USFS and find out that he was as approachable and pleasant as he is creative. I'm elated that he agreed to keynote day one of Restoring the West this year.

RTW Talk: The Colorado River: Supply and Demand - Tuesday - 8:40am

Recommended paper:
Merritt, D.M., M.L. Scott, N.L. Poff, G.T. Auble, and D.A. Lytle. 2010. Theory, methods, and tools for determining environmental flows for riparian vegetation: riparian vegetation-flow response guilds. Freshwater Biology 55:206-225.

BDA - Northern Utah

2. Lindsay V. Reynolds, United States Geological Survey, Fort Collins, CO, USA

Like John Stella below, I heard of Lindsay Reynolds' excellent work because I was a fan of her advisor's work. Lindsay worked with David Cooper at Colorado State during her dissertation research where she used species distribution models to predict the spread of Tamarisk across the West and performed controlled in situ experiments on Tamarisk removal. She complemented this effort collaborating on a paper on how carbon dioxide and climate change will affect Western dryland rivers. Lindsay also dropped two recent papers in River Research and Applications on the role of abandoned channels in serving as refugia for riparian plant diversity and on how Russian olive and tamarisk invade streams. Lindsay is one of the top young riparian ecologists in North America and maybe the world and we're very fortunate that she's coming to Logan to participate in Restoring the West.

RTW Talk: Climate Change and Riparian Forest Communities: Implications for Small Streams in the Upper Colorado River Basin - Tuesday - 9:20am

Recommended paper:
Reynolds, L. V., D. J. Cooper, and N. T. Hobbs. 2014. Drivers of riparian tree invasion on a
desert stream. River Research and Applications 30:60-70.

Goodell Creek, WA, USA
3. John C. Stella, SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY, USA

I'm not sure when I first heard of John Stella's work. I had heard of his PhD advisor at UC Berkeley, Matt Kondolf through some of the stream restoration papers of the late 90s and early 2000s. As a recovering physiological ecologist, I really enjoyed seeing how John linked environmental processes around rivers to the diversity and distributions of riparian forests. It seemed that John was looking at the environmental drivers and the biotic communities that responded to them, often with equal understanding and emphasis on processes as much as patterns of biodiversity. In 2012, I had the pleasure of meeting John at a beaver and stream restoration short course at USU, and have been impressed when we get to talk shop and I hear what he and his students are up to. To boot, he worked with Alex Fremier before Alex got his faculty post.

RTW Talk: Riparian Forest Dynamics and Management Challenges on Mediterranean-Climate Rivers - Tuesday - 2:00pm

Recommended paper:
Stella, J.C., M.K. Hayden*, J.J. Battles, H. PiƩgay, S. Dufour, and A.K. Fremier. 2011. The role of abandoned channels as refugia for sustaining pioneer riparian forest ecosystems. Ecosystems 14: 776-790. DOI: 10.1007/s10021-011-9446-6

Horshoe Bend, Colorado River, AZ, USA
4. Alex Fremier, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, USA

I first saw Alex Fremier's work in an issue of Wetlands, where he modeled the distribution of a riparian shrub. While the article wasn't ground-breaking, I remember looking into his vita and being blown away by the breadth and depth of his science. I would call Alex a landscape ecologist and conservation biologist with a tendency towards riparia and an aptitude for the spatial side of ecology. He is now working on large-scale and process-based conservation planning in tropical agro-forest ecosystems and rivers of the North American West.

RTW Talk: A Riparian Conservation Network to Develop Ecological Resilience - Tuesday - 3:30pm

Recommended paper:
Harper, E.B., J.C. Stella, and A.K. Fremier. 2011. Using ecologically meaningful sensitivity analyses to quantify complex model uncertainty: A case study of Fremont cottonwood (Populus fremontii) population dynamics. Ecological Applications. 21(4):1225-1240

Beaver Creek, UT, USA
5. Heida Diefenderfer, Battelle Pacific Northwest Lab, Sequim, WA, USA

As a young M.S. student at UW, my advisor advised me to get in touch with Heida since she had recently completed her PhD in our department while working at the Pacific Northwest Lab. I called Heida and she took hours to fill me in on her work that spanned the eelgrass beds of Western Washington to restored and reference Sitka spruce swamps in the Columbia River estuary. She was the first "wow" scientist I met. As in, "Wow, she can do it all...and wow, she knows so many different ecosystems so well. Wow."

Heida has worked extensively in the tidal portions of the Columbia River below the Bonneville Dam. Her work is also interdisciplinary, spanning geomorphology and ecology, both with a heavy restoration focus. She currently works to bridge applied ecology and landscape ecology to help decision-makers plan for and prioritize restoration across the Columbia River Basin. She will be delivering the closing keynote for Restoring the West, which also serves as the QCNR seminar for the week.

RTW Talk: Evidence-Based Evaluation of Hydrologic Reconnection of Floodplain Wetlands: Lower Columbia River and Estuary - Wednesday - 4:00pm

Recommended paper:
Diefenderfer HL, RM Thom, GE Johnson, JR Skalski, KA Vogt, BD Ebberts, GC Roegner, and E Dawley. 2011. A Levels-of-Evidence Approach for Assessing Cumulative Ecosystem Response to Estuary and River Restoration Programs. Ecological Restoration 29(1-2):111-132.


Friday, October 10, 2014

New projects getting under way

Horshoe Bend, Colorado River, AZ, USA - I have no idea who that guy is.
So, I recently commented on the difficulty, and importance, of finishing projects... especially when juggling multiple projects...and amid recreational ambitions and aspirations for a fulfilling personal life. One of the most exciting things about the research lifestyle is starting a new collaboration or undertaking a big new project. This year, I'm finally carving out my dissertation chapters, starting with two projects that model the responses of functional plant diversity to fluvial disturbance, watershed management and climate variability. Specifically, we're going to use several disparate monitoring data sets to decouple how climate changes stream hydrology and how hydroclimatic effects shape guilds, or groups of plant species with similar life history strategies across several river basins of the Pacific Northwest. To be able to start new projects with my current group in the Fluvial Habitat Center and Ecogeomorphology and Topographic Analysis Lab is a privilege and I'm excited to collaborate with my committee members and federal and state agency partners.

Lake Powell, UT, USA
This work will benefit hugely from the work that Dave Merritt, Mike Scott et al. have done on riparian flow guilds, suggesting workflows that assess how riparian plants with similar physiological and morphological attributes respond to hydrologic modification in regulated rivers. Dave, although not on my committee has helped to shape how I think about riparian ecology and conservation, and his productivity, approachability, and vision are truly motivating to a junior scientist such as myself. Mike, who is on my committee has shared his expertise and positivity since I cold-called him back in 2012. I hope to stand on these giants' shoulders by taking a broad, landscape-scale approach to riparian community ecology.

Alpenglow in the Bear Rivers

I caught a break this past year, a break that probably made these new projects and chapters possible, when I was awarded an EPA STAR fellowship for the remainder of my time at USU. Following the sequester of the 2012-13 award year and delays in funding the 2014-16 cycle, I wasn't sure they were even going to make awards, but I had never received reviews or a rejection, so it remained in the corner of my mind. This award will allow me to pursue these new projects, building on my previous work with the US Forest Service, the Columbia Habitat Monitoring Program and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. I have an abundance of thanks for my splitboarding, running, research and professional society friends and colleagues who constantly keep me grounded with their feats of excellence, creativity and positivity, and big hearts and ideas. Y'all know who you are - keep grinding day-to-day. You're my team and I'm stoked to wear the same jersey.

Speaking of people who are perpetually stoked on their team. Meek Mill is always up on that teamwork:

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Happy #WorldRiversDay 2014!

Goodell Creek, WA, USA

The last Sunday of September, which happens to be today, September 28th, marks World Rivers Day:

World Rivers Day is a celebration of the world's waterways. It highlights the many values of rivers and strives to increase public awareness and encourages the improved stewardship of rivers around the world.
Goodell Creek, WA, USA

You can follow World Rivers Day on twitter using #WorldRiversDay:



In addition to World Rivers Day, the Northwest Film Forum is showing Return of the River, on the Elwha River dam removals in Washington State, USA. The cinematography looks to be breathtaking. One could guess that RotR takes a more thorough treatment of the Elwha Case Study than DamNation may have had time to. I just ordered my copy for my growing personal archive of Northwest river movies. Anyhow, RotR is now showing in the Northwest and is available for screening:



Hopefully films like RotR and events like World Rivers Day collectively bring more attention to the global stewardship and restoration of rivers and streams. Here's to every day being a #RiverDay!

Goodell Creek, WA, USA

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

So we put in a stream restoration project....

...and Kirstie Fryirs was kind enough to come out and visit. A debt of gratitude goes out to the generous private landowners, UDWR, USU, and UCC for their efforts in making this project come together.

A beaver dam analog

The ensuing upstream pool that will aggrade the incised channel

And where the shear stress begins to diminish upstream, reducing the size of particles the stream can transport.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Lightning crashes, September rolls

Don't tread on me, Dry Canyon, UT, USA
Dry Canyon, UT, USA
Kirstie Fryirs, Macquarie University schools USU and the FHC in River Styles
Box Elder County sunrise
Sorno schools the FHC on the importance of riparian and aquatic habitat restoration

USU students, Alex, Angus, Sammy and Elijah (USU ET-AL) and Kirstie (Macquarie) above the incision trench
Ponding and fine sediment settling behind a Beaver Dam Analog
Elijah admires a BDA 
Is it a fan?
Elijah doing work with the boss man's trusty and somewhat dull Stihl
A BDA post-trimming  
My first BDA

Remnants of the Oso landslide

Second growth forest, North Cascades National Park, WA

Goodell Creek, the last undammed tributary to the Skagit River, WA USA

Lots of this over a weekend, Goodell Gravel Mine, WA, USA

Greene Machine and Goodell Creek

Rodney at the swimming hole

Sediment sorting behind a boulder, Goodell Creek, WA, USA

Emerald City Fish and Chips

Back to Cascadia



Thursday, September 11, 2014

Photos from an early fall afield

Mt. Elden, AZ - where post-fire succession moves slowly 
Mt. Elden, AZ
Lake Powell, AZ
AK climbing out of work, Cache National Forest
Beirdneau Peak, UT. Photo B. Greene
USU WATS Graduate Induction Course at Pilgrim Creek, WY

Dr. Joe Wheaton and the 2014-15 USU ET-AL graduate students:
Nate, Alan, Martha, and Becca, minus Reid Camp, Pilgrim Creek, WY. Photo P. Belmont

Dropping into Green Canyon, Cache National Forest, UT

Climbing above Wood Camp, Cache National Forest, UT

Mt. Elden, AZ
Bad luck at the bunkhouse, Box Elder County, UT.
Low clouds and high spirits for an August run. Cache National Forest, UT
Keeping the sports nutrition industry in business, Logan, UT
Descending to Green Canyon, Cache National Forest, UT
September twerking at the Naomi Peak Wilderness boundary. Photo B. Greene