Let us know what you think about any topic related to the Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project in the forums below. The Principal Investigators on the UC Science Team cannot answer every post, but they will read all comments in their areas, and respond to comments as a group at each quarterly meeting. We greatly value your input!

Sagehen Study by Shasta Ferranto, at 11:08 a.m. on 14 May 2009,

We've just posted The Fire Science brief on the Sagehen study that looked at SPLATs and fire behavior, conducted by Battles, Stephens, Vaillant, and Saah. It can be downloaded at: http://snamp.cnr.berkeley.edu/documents/230/

Should SNAMP have a legal team? by Kim_Ingram, at 11:31 a.m. on 30 April 2009,

At a recent SNAMP presentation, questions were raised if SNAMP science could stand up in court and if SNAMP would benefit from having a legal team working side by side the science teams to ensure this? If the Forest Service fuels treatment projects get sued, doesn't that undermine the entire SNAMP effort which hoped to develop a public process to avoid litigation?

The SNAMP process will clearly document what worked and what didn’t work well for the US Forest Service, the NEPA process and SNAMP itself. However, SNAMP could never guarantee that no lawsuits would ever be filed against the USFS or others. If the USFS is sued over the fuels treatment projects and the science is questioned, SNAMP scientists may be asked to testify. The Principle Investigators for SNAMP were specifically chosen because they are experts in their fields. SNAMP work plans have been peer reviewed by other experts outside of the SNAMP UC Science Team (UCST), so their methods have already been validated. The UCST uses the ‘preeminent rules of science’ – peer review, in all SNAMP research. Because of this, the UCST is not interested in pursuing a legal review. It is also important to remember that the science used in the NEPA process is conducted by the US Forest Service, not SNAMP. The SNAMP teams invite public comments, questions and differing opinions. Disagreement is part of the SNAMP process, it doesn’t stop it.

Fire Article by Kim Ingram, at 11:54 a.m. on 19 March 2009,

This is an interesting article from Humboldt State University regarding wildfire:

After the SNAMP Annual meeting in November 2008, the issue of identifying private landownership and obtaining permission to access private lands by the owl science team was raised. The importance of obtaining permission to survey on private lands was agreed upon, as well as needing to know the types and amounts of activities that occur on private lands within owl territories so that the owl team can account for it in their modeling.

Since the November meeting, the owl team has obtained current, private landowner spatial data from Placer and El Dorado County Assessors Offices for both the Last Chance Owl Study Area and the El Dorado Study Area (ESA). The largest, private landowner in the ESA is Lone Star Timber; managed by Mason, Bruce & Girard, Inc. Representatives of Mason, et al have worked with the owl team to supply them with spatial data for timber harvests conducted on Lone Star Timber lands for 2007 and 2008. Obtaining spatial data for subsequent years, after the conclusion of each year’s activity, should be forthcoming. The owl team has also requested spatial data for timber harvests on SPI land and is awaiting a response.

Generally, the owl team does not have the need to access private lands as owl territories have been found on Forest Service lands. However, upon review of the landowner spatial data, the owl team found one owl territory in the ESA that is located on SPI land. In addition, an owl was detected last summer in Last Chance on the border of SPI and Lone Star lands. Further surveying this summer will be necessary to determine if this is a legitimate territory. The owl team has obtained permission from Mason, et al to surveying on Lone Star land at this location and has requested permission to survey on SPI land at both locations. The owl team has offered to share all data with the landowners. Procedures have been put in place for obtaining access permission for any future owl territories that may be located on private lands.

Relevant Publications by Susie Kocher, at 8:04 a.m. on 17 February 2009,

A recent publication from Science that may be of interest to SNAMP participants. I've posted the abstract here, the original article can be accessed from the Science website.

Widespread Increase of Tree Mortality Rates in the Western United States
Phillip J. van Mantgem, et al. Science 323, 521 (2009)

Persistent changes in tree mortality rates can alter forest structure, composition, and ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration. Our analyses of longitudinal data from unmanaged old forests in the western United States showed that background (noncatastrophic) mortality rates have increased rapidly in recent decades, with doubling periods ranging from 17 to 29 years among regions. Increases were also pervasive across elevations, tree sizes, dominant genera, and past fire histories. Forest density and basal area declined slightly, which suggests that increasing mortality was not caused by endogenous increases in competition. Because mortality increased in small trees, the overall increase in mortality rates cannot be attributed solely to aging of large trees. Regional warming and consequent increases in water deficits are likely contributors to the increases in tree mortality rates.

Questions and answers from stakeholders. by Kim Ingram - Northern site rep., at 12:27 p.m. on 9 February 2009,

We've begun posting frequently asked questions and answers for SNAMP. Please check out the the FAQs page to see them!

Preliminary outlook on this year's wildfire season by Ann Huber, at 4:15 p.m. on 3 February 2009,

The USFS is predicting a busy wildfire season this year. Here is an excerpt from a Preliminary report by Tom Wardell (USFS, Wildland Fire Analyst):

"The Central Coast Mountains and Valleys, Sierra Foothills and Sierra Mtn areas will likely see above normal significant fire potential due to long-term and persistent drought.

Lack of snow pack in the higher elevation areas could lead to more large fires than normal, depending on lightning activity. Elsewhere, fire potential is expected to be near normal at least through August. Santa Ana wind events could lead to significant short duration fire activity in the southern coastal and mountain areas during the fall."

Sierra Summit Blog by Shasta Ferranto, at 11:37 a.m. on 23 January 2009,

Tom Knudson of the Sacramento Bee has posted a new blog about forests, carbon, thinning and climate change that may be of interest to SNAMP participants. To read the blog, go to this link:


More comments to Linda... by Maggi Kelly, at 10:15 a.m. on 17 December 2008,

Thanks Linda, I thought I'd just follow up on that one aspect of your comment "Using aerial photos and LIDAR, can't both public and private lands be roughly classified remotely"...

You are correct, in theory both public and private land could be mapped using remote sensing technology (given that we had all the imagery and lidar data we wanted), but all remote sensing products need to be validated by representative ground data. If management between private and public are different, we'd need to make sure we had representative samples from both public and private lands. I'd also like to reiterate that the SNAMP project doesn't have Lidar data for the Eldorado area due to the prohibitive costs of acquisition.

Spotted Owl Discussion by Owl Science Team, at 3:14 p.m. on 12 December 2008,

In response to the comments of Steve Self and Linda Blum on December 1:

ACCESS TO PRIVATE LANDS ON THE EDSA: In the early 1990s, an industrial landowner on the EDSA did not want the owl crews to survey along or travel on roads through their land. The Georgetown District Ranger met with the private landowner and pointed out that the USFS maintains many roads that allow private landowners to access their land within the matrix of public and private lands. Without USFS cooperation, private landowners would incur greater expenses to access their land and may even be unable to access some areas. His discussion with the landowner apparently convinced everyone that it was not in the best interest of all parties to argue about who should be on private or public roads within the EDSA during legitimate management or research activities. Almost exclusively, however, we do not access private land per se but simply stay on roads to conduct our surveys. On occasion, we do cross from public land onto private land when following owls if there are no boundary markers obvious to field crews. This cannot be helped because these owl chases generally occur in the dark or relatively far from roads where identifying markers are extremely difficult to detect or do not exist at all.

In summary, it appears by historical precedent that we can travel roads passing through private land if the road connects two parcels of public land. We do not bypass gated roads blocking access to private land without first obtaining permission from landowners. However, we respect private land and do not access such land without permission (i.e., don't leave a through road to access private land if we know it is private land). To conduct morning and evening “walk-in” surveys, we currently have no need to access private land because all owl roost and nest sites are currently on public land. When we have had a specific mission to access private land (e.g., find a radio-marked owl, locate a nest, or to conduct an experiment), we have always sought specific permission to access the land. In summary, we believe that our activities over the past 22 years have been consistent with the desire of private landowners to maintain the integrity of their land.

INFORMATION ON PRIVATE LANDOWNERS: We have recently acquired information on private land ownership from the Placer County Assessor’s Office and are converting it into a shapefile for GIS analysis. All of the Last Chance Study Area and most of the EDSA are located within Placer County. A portion of the EDSA is located in El Dorado County. To obtain land ownership information from the El Dorado County Assessor’s Office, we will need to visit their office in Placerville and we plan on doing so when we resume field work in the area during spring 2009. Again, we note that the identity of landowners is not central to the analysis, only that we know the types and amount of activity that occur within owl territories so that we account for it in our modeling.

Within the EDSA, Lone Star Timber Properties is the primary private landowner. We contacted the company that manages Lone Star’s property and are hopeful that they will provide timber harvest information during the SNAMP study. We will contact other private landowners as needed once we determine which landowners own land near owl territory centers. If we can not obtain information directly from private landowners, we will use information derived from Timber Harvest Plans that have been filed with CDF (as noted in our previous post).

In response to Ms. Blum’s question on December 1, a former graduate student of RJG created a EDSA habitat map in 2004-05 using aerial photos. We also plan to use aerial photos to create a habitat map for the Last Chance Study Area and to update both maps over the course of the SNAMP study. Unfortunately, LiDAR data would be prohibitively expensive to acquire for the entire EDSA. However, there are typically time gaps of 3-4 years between available aerial photos. Thus, we will require more detailed information from landowners or THPs to identify the specific years that various harvest activities have occurred within owl territories in order to evaluate the status of forests within each owl territory.

Legend Show