Foresters tour Mica Creek
Forestry professionals from around the country converged on the Spokane Convention Center October 24-28 to learn about managing forests for resilience in the face of changing natural resources demands and a changing climate. CNR was a co-sponsor of the 93rd Society of American Foresters national convention, which was held in Spokane for the first time.
Associate Professor of Hydrology Tim Link led a sold out field trip of the Mica Creek Experimental Watershed in the scenic St. Joe River area during the SAF Convention last week. Participants braved the snow and the cold as they discussed the site history,visited the harvest units and roads being evaluated in the study, and discussed the research instrumentation being used.
Link said Mica Creek was selected as a field trip destination because the watershed is a showcase example of a partnership between U-Idaho and private industry. Potlatch Corporation initiated research in the watershed in 1990. In 2002, researchers at the University of Idaho initiated a partnership with Potlatch to analyze data from the core study and to expand the breadth and depth of environmental monitoring in the watershed.
The ongoing study is the first study in the United States to look at contemporary forest management practices and their biological and physical impacts. Is also the only such study that is being conducted in a working forest, not a controlled scientific experiment, Link said, noting that the land at Mica Creek is managed in the same way that the rest of Potlatch forest lands are managed.
Many faculty and students have been involved in research at Mica Creek over the past 21 years. At one point, Link said, nearly 50 faculty and students were conducting projects out there. He estimated that 10 to 12 dissertations and theses have come out of work done at the site.
Today, studies at Mica Creek examine the effectiveness of contemporary forest practices on stream flow, sediment, nutrients, stream temperature, and the aquatic ecology of headwater streams in northern Idaho. Research in the watershed has yielded a wealth of information that is used widely in policy decisions throughout the Northwest and British Columbia.
The field trip attracted a diverse group of participants who represented state and federal government, academia and industry. “People were curious,” said Link. “They wanted to hear how the study was done and about the forestry practices used.” The field trip was followed up by a 90-minute presentation and panel discussion later in the week. More than 100 participants attended.
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