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Master Woodland Manager Training is coming to Central Oregon!

Forestry Events - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 6:11am
Thursday, February 23, 2017 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Master Woodland Manager (MWM) is our Forestry and Natural Resources Extension premier forest stewardship and volunteer program. This program has been running for over 25 years, serving more than 500 landowners around the state, and in 2017 it is coming to Central Oregon.

This program only comes around to a given region about every 10 years, so take advantage of this opportunity!

During the Master Woodland Manager program, you will:

• Visit woodlands and ranches around the region. Field days will occur in the Sisters, La Pine, Bend, and Prineville areas.

• Meet and learn from other woodland owners.

• Get to know our region’s forest and natural resource professionals from various agencies.

• Learn from Oregon’s State University’s forest, river, and wildlife experts!

• Gain knowledge and skills that you can apply on your property.

• Become part of Central Oregon’s tremendous woodland owner and forestry community.

This unique training combines at-home readings and videos, online discussions, and field days. This allows us to focus our face-to-face time in the field (instead of in the classroom enduring long lectures!), reinforcing concepts and practicing new skills.

Field days are spaced out so that there is enough time to do the pre-session preparation, and for you to apply concepts at home and ask questions as needed in between sessions.

Central Oregon MWM Agenda:

February 23: Introduction, Landscape Setting and Fire Ecology

March 15: Upland Ecology and Management

March 30: Business Management and Taxes

April 13: Riparian And Watershed Systems

May 4: Reforestation and Young Forests

May 25: Harvesting, Marketing Forest Products and Roads

June 15: Forest Health, Graduation Dinner

Love. Passion. Success.

Evaluation is an Everyday Activity - Mon, 02/13/2017 - 2:43pm

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, the day traditionally set aside for lovers–you know the lovey dovey kind. And if you forgot…watch out.

It is the day when Saint Valentine    (officially Saint Valentine of Terni), a widely recognized third-century Roman saint, has his feast day. Since the  High Middle Ages it is associated with a tradition of courtly love. It is said that Valentine’s day was established to counteract the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. There is much we do not know about St. Valentine.

Not courtly love.

I want to talk about a different kind of love (and I do not mean the various definitions of  that word). I want to talk about  your calling; your passion.

A good friend of mine said:  Know what your calling is, your vocation, and follow it faithfully.

She also said in that same missive: “When you are most disgruntled, take a moment of conscious breath or five moments of conscious play!”

This is the love I’m talking about. The love for your calling; your vocation (passion).

And what to do when you feel disgruntled (breathe/play).


Susan Kistler,  AEA Executive Director Emeritus, shares perhaps an important message about love:

“Success is made manifest in health and happiness, confidence that you are loved and the capacity to love with others.”

That is passion.

How does that relate to evaluation?

We are all evaluators and  live and work by criteria, whether they are implicit or explicit. Our passions are found in the criteria. We continue that passion for long in our lives–some of us because of family responsibilities; some of us because it is fun. When we get tired, we stop. We still have the passion and that passion comes out when we least expect it. Because once an evaluator (whether formally or not), always an evaluator.

So celebrate your passion tomorrow. And remember to breath…or play!

The post Love. Passion. Success. appeared first on Evaluation is an Everyday Activity.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Portland |Childhood Obesity featuring Dean Nieto

Health & Wellness Events - Mon, 02/13/2017 - 2:37pm
Monday, February 13, 2017 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

Join the College of Public Health and Human Sciences faculty, including new Dean F. Javier Nieto, for a discussion of Oregon State's research and efforts to tackle childhood obesity.

Details and registration 

Hopkins Community Forest Day

Forestry Events - Sat, 02/11/2017 - 2:36pm
Saturday, February 11, 2017 8:30 AM - 2:30 PM

This is your chance to learn by doing a variety of projects in a sustainably managed woodland. Volunteers help with all the essential seasonal tasks of managing a working Demonstration Forest. Learning by doing – it’s the
Hopkins way we manage our forest.

February 11 – Early season trail maintenance and improvement. Also, help take inventory of seedling survival, stocking level, and maintenance needs. Areas to survey include a 7-acre harvest area planted in 2016, underplanting in the Thinning and Pruning Demonstration Area and Uneven aged Management Area. This will be in conjunction with a Reforestation Assessment Workshop.

Registration is requested. A delicious hot lunch is provided at Community Forestry Days. Contact Jean at
503-655-8631 or jean.bremer@oregonstate.edu to get on the list.

For more information contact Peter Matzka at peter.matzka@oregonstate.edu.

Restoration Assessment Workshop

Forestry Events - Sat, 02/11/2017 - 2:36pm
Saturday, February 11, 2017 9:00 AM - 2:00 PM

This reforestation workshop includes an informal classroom session covering the
basic steps in reforestation: site preparation, seed sources, nursery availability, tree
seedling types, seedling care, weed control, maintenance, and assessment. The work-
shop continues in the field where participants will participate in a survey and assess-
ment of reforestation success and maintenance needs in the first year after planting.

There is no fee, but advance registration is required. Coffee, refreshments, lunch and information materials will be provided in conjunction with the monthly Community Forest work day at Hopkins Demonstration Forest. Dress for a field day (rain or shine).

To register, please contact Jean at the OSU Extension office at 503-655-8631 or


Small Farms Events - Sat, 02/11/2017 - 2:36pm
Saturday, February 11, 2017 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM



Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

A Sense for Starch

Terra - Fri, 02/10/2017 - 5:27pm

By Nick Houtman

In a provocative study of food and human evolution, Harvard primatologist Richard Wrangham did things that some people might find a bit extreme. He ate raw goat meat mixed with tree leaves. He sampled the uncooked fruit of the African pepper-bark tree — food favored by monkeys and chimpanzees. Its hot taste, he wrote, makes it “impossibly unpleasant for humans to digest.”

Partly as a result of his work, Wrangham and others have proposed that cooked foods suit our taste buds better than raw. Cooking, they argue, may have helped to fuel human development by giving our ancestors access to more calories.

Juyun Lim (Photo: Chris Becerra)

Heating goat meat may indeed make it more flavorful, but scientists have long debated the role of taste in human health. Our love of sweets reflects the critical importance of glucose, the sugar that flows in our blood and fuels our bodies. An adult requires a minimum of about 150 grams, or five ounces, of glucose a day. We tend to reject foods with a bitter taste, which is often associated with toxins. Salty, sour and savory (aka umami) round out the five well-known taste categories. Now, Juyun Lim at Oregon State University has discovered a possible sixth.

At first, she thought it was a mistake, but the associate professor and her collaborators in Food Science and Technology are learning that taste is about more than preferring bananas to strawberries or being a picky eater.

The Taste of Starch

At the Center for Sensory and Consumer Behavior Research, Lim explores the mechanisms of what food scientists call the human sensory system: taste and smell. As often happens, she stumbled onto her discovery in the course of studying something else. In this case, she was looking at a question near to the heart of parents everywhere: How do we learn to like the flavor of foods, such as kale? Can parents really help kids to finish their broccoli?

“Some people dislike a vegetable like broccoli at first. But after eating it many times, they may start to like it,” says Lim. “What’s that process like? Are they just getting used to it? Or does it have to do with getting calories, feeling satisfied and associating the experience with the flavor? What is it?”

Lim and her research team set up experiments and gave volunteers vegetable juice with and without a starch-based food supplement that is considered tasteless: maltodextrin. “My graduate research assistant came back to me and said her subjects could taste maltodextrin, and I said, ‘no, I don’t think so,’” says Lim. “I thought it must have some impurities that cause a taste.”

Under guidance from Oregon State food scientist Juyun Lim, graduate student Julie Colvin has a taste sample applied to her tongue with a cotton swab. Pinching off the nose ensures that taste sensations stem from the tongue and are not linked to aromatic compounds in the nasal passages. (Photo: Chis Becerra)

The starches we usually eat — whether in corn tortillas, whole-wheat bread or rice pilaf — are comprised of extraordinarily long and complex glucose molecules. If an individual glucose were the size of a twig, a starch molecule would be as big as a tree. “It’s so big and insoluble, no one thought it would activate any taste receptors,” says Lim. (See What’s That Taste?)

However, maltodextrin is made of much shorter starch molecules, the equivalent of small trees with only a few branches. Is it possible, she wondered, that our taste buds can detect these shorter molecules through the well-known sweetness receptor on the tongue? Or was another unrecognized taste receptor at work? After all, the receptors on our taste buds get triggered by a variety of chemicals, such as salt or sugar.

So, in a second round of experiments, Lim and her team decided to purify their samples and go one step further. They added a commonly used food additive called lactisole. Food processors use lactisole to reduce the sweetness of jams and jellies, so more of the fruit flavor can come through. Lim gave lactisole to her subjects because it blocks the sweetness receptor on the tongue.

In blind taste tests, the volunteers were again able to taste the purified samples. Clearly, one or more previously unknown taste receptors were being activated.

Starch molecules broken by enzymes in saliva show up as long purple columns in analytical tests conducted by Alexa Pullicin, a graduate student in Lim’s lab. (Photo: Chris Becerra)

Lim and her team refined their samples further and determined that their subjects were detecting a specific component of maltodextrin. It’s likely, she says, that when we chew a piece of bread and mix it with saliva, we break up the starch into smaller compounds that we can taste.

“Our volunteers told us that the samples we gave them taste like root vegetables or that it was pasta-like, or bread-like,” says Lim. “From the standpoint of human evolution, this makes sense. We get 60 to 70 percent of our calories from carbohydrates, which include starches.”

The Spit Test

Last summer, in the journal Chemical Senses, Lim and her team published their potential discovery of a sixth sense of taste, setting off a flurry of publicity around the world. But the researchers haven’t stopped there. Lim wants to understand exactly what happens when we put foods composed of starch in our mouths. Does it make a difference if they are cooked or raw, barely chewed or thoroughly masticated?

The question gets back to Richard Wrangham’s suggestion that cooking produces more of the compounds that we can taste. By enabling us to get more calories out of what we eat, cooking may also play a fundamental role in human evolution. Lim’s experiments with maltodextrin offer one way to study these questions.

Last fall, Lim and her team gave corn starch — both raw and cooked — the spit test. Saliva contains an enzyme that breaks down starches into the short molecules that we can taste. So volunteers were asked to spit into a cup for one minute (in case you are wondering, we vary a lot in how much saliva we produce, but we typically generate two to four pints of saliva every day).

Lim’s team then mixed samples of raw and cooked starch with saliva. To consider how long we chew, they analyzed some mixtures after a few seconds and others after 30 seconds. The samples that had been cooked or mixed with saliva for a longer time generated a lot more of the short molecules than those that were uncooked or mixed for shorter times.

“By cooking, we are able to generate more of the compounds we can taste. And the longer you chew, the more of them are produced in your mouth,” says Lim.

But the real payoff, she adds, doesn’t come just from enjoying the flavor of a baked potato or cornbread. It’s possible, she says, that the taste system may play an important role in health by prompting the body to release insulin even before these foods arrive in the stomach.

To test this hypothesis, Lim is working with a Corvallis physician to determine how tasting carbohydrates affects insulin levels in blood. She and her team are gathering data this spring.

The post A Sense for Starch appeared first on Terra Magazine.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

The Sustainability Grind

Terra - Fri, 02/10/2017 - 4:46pm

By Steve Frandzel

Turn. Drill. Bore. Cut gear. Grind. Vapor degrease. Induction harden. Heat treat. Cadmium plate. Process complete.

That’s one possible sequence for turning a steel-alloy bar into a gear. It’s not glamorous or poetic; process flowcharts are not the stuff of dreams. Yet it’s here, in the elegantly rational trenches of industry, that Karl Haapala, an associate professor of manufacturing engineering, thrives and hones a better way to build things. Sustainable manufacturing balances social responsibility, economic competitiveness and environmental impact.

Karl Haapala (Photo: Chris Becerra)

“Manufacturing includes everything from minute processes to a complete supply chain, and I look at it all through a lens of sustainability, which accounts for a critical set of environmental, economic and social values,” says Haapala, who directs Oregon State’s Industrial Sustainability Lab. “It also considers the well-being of people — your workforce, your customers.”

The word “sustainable” can conjure notions of some remote and costly ideal, but Haapala says it is consistent with good practice. Most manufacturers already embrace basic sustainability, which comprises reduced energy, water and raw materials consumption; fewer worker injuries; less waste; and lower distribution and transportation costs. All of these factors translate into lower production costs and greater profitability. But he wonders why more companies don’t rush to take advantage of sustainable manufacturing.

“Business is motivated by profit, but companies that operate in a sustainable manner have greater longevity and perform better than average financially,” says Haapala. “Sustainable practices force companies to innovate, and innovation adds resiliency, as does reduced supply chain uncertainty that results from choosing more abundant materials over rarer ones. Why would you not manufacture in a sustainable manner?”

Good Business

The ethos of sustainable production is gaining steam with the public. Awareness of connections between threats like water scarcity, depletion of scarce resources and environmentally related disease too often trace back to unsustainable production patterns. According to Haapala, a growing swath of consumers who value economic, environmental and social responsibility are generating demand for sustainable products and practices. Manufacturers that don’t adapt risk losing market share.

Tempering Haapala’s sanguine view is what he considers ill-placed resistance or limited understanding of sustainable practices. “Over the past two years, I have interacted with about 30 small, medium and large companies to learn about their sustainable manufacturing activities,” he says. “One surprising finding has been how universally challenged companies are — small to large — in deciding how to do the right things right. They want to be business savvy and be good corporate citizens, but there are a lot of complexities they must navigate, which often results in ad hoc, uncertain qualitative decisions.”

To equip industry for a more definitive response, Haapala is creating comprehensive tools that enable manufacturers to quantify the impact of sustainable manufacturing alternatives. In one seminal study conducted for a large aerospace company, he and graduate student Michael Eastwood applied mathematical models to compare three different ways to produce a hypothetical bevel gear. They evaluated energy consumption, material choices, water use, effluent discharge and occupational health and safety, among other factors. “We set out to develop an assessment tool that holistically considers inputs to the design and production process, something not previously available for industry,” Haapala says.

Refinements are needed before the tool becomes a practical, automated application. That’s the goal of ongoing research by Haapala in a project supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. “One ray of sunshine was that engineers at the company changed the way they thought about problems,” he adds. “I believe this helped them to see the value of looking at things from a sustainability-performance perspective rather than just a cost-performance perspective. It made them think about the secondary implications of decisions. That, to me, is progress.”

Work like this exemplifies not only Haapala’s vision for responsible manufacturing, but also his place astride the intersection of academia and industry. Almost half of the 39 projects that Haapala has participated in since 2009, his first year at OSU, have been industry collaborations. Partners have ranged from startups and small concerns to large corporations. Last fall, Haapala received Oregon State’s Industry Partnering Award (accompanied by a $10,000 grant), which “recognizes a faculty member who achieves extraordinarily high impact innovations through research collaborations with industry.”

Public- and industry-sponsored research frequently differ in important ways, Haapala notes. “In academic research, you don’t always have a destination in mind, and the path to get wherever you’re going may not be very clear. There’s more flexibility and uncertainty in developing new knowledge.”

Working with industry can entail frequent consultation in shaping the trajectory of the project, he adds. “Often a business needs a quick solution, and there’s usually some definite end goal. At the end of the day, you have to put theory into practice. That’s the nature of industry research.”

The post The Sustainability Grind appeared first on Terra Magazine.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Disruptive Software

Terra - Fri, 02/10/2017 - 4:06pm

Even the world’s largest tech companies need help leveraging their innovations.

Software to manage and analyze data has been around as long as the computer, but when HP Inc. needed an innovative approach to managing company-wide inventory and sales data, developers at HP in Corvallis created their own product: ORCA. Now that same  home-grown platform is being called “disruptive technology” by those outside of HP who have seen ORCA in operation.

ORCA’s disruptive nature comes from its simplicity. The software is fully deployable within mere days, compared to the months, or even years, required to build competitive systems — and at a fraction of the cost of comparable enterprise-size data management and analytics platforms.

A year ago, when HP began its search for a company to commercialize ORCA, it turned to the Oregon State University Advantage Accelerator and its directors Karl Mundorff and Mark Lieberman for help. Leveraging their personal and professional networks of Oregon-based entrepreneurs, Lieberman and Mundorff sought out companies that had an application-ready need and a vision for expanding ORCA into a new business. They presented HP with a long list of candidates and arranged meetings with the most promising prospects. Presentations were followed by proposals and business plans. In the end, HP licensed ORCA to Due North Innovation of Portland.

“There are a lot of other data management tools out there. This one is super powerful but very easy to use from an implementation point of view,” says Michael Baker, partner in Due North. “I’ve been in this business for 25 years, and it’s the first time that we have seen a software solution that allows for the management of very large data through common language searches.”

Baker believes ORCA can enhance clinical outcomes and reduce care delivery costs in the medical field, by extracting meaningful information from massive data sources

Baker founded Home Dialysis Plus based in part on microchannel research at OSU. That company, now known as Outset Medical, markets Tablo, a portable system for conducting dialysis treatments at home and in dialysis clinics.

As a firm geared toward bringing innovation out of the lab and into the market place, Due North will use ORCA in two new products: Qview Health and CORI2. Qview Health tracks health-care performance in hospitals and pinpoints sources of errors. CORI2 manages data from endoscopy exams. It helps clinicians to predict patient outcomes on the basis of data from 11 years of such procedures at 126 hospitals around the world. In both cases, ORCA will provide the information engine that accesses data for analytical purposes.

Other ORCA applications are on the horizon. Due North may use it to drive a system that could lead the way for personalized medicine. It could combine information about a patient’s genetic profile with real-time reporting on activity, diet and other factors that affect health.

Outside health care, ORCA could boost analytical power for other data management purposes. “ORCA works with any type of data,” adds Baker. “It’s the most robust algorithm set I’ve seen. It’s unique within the family of these products.”


To discover what the Oregon State University Advantage and the Advantage Accelerator program can do for your business, contact Brian Wall, assistant vice president for research, commercialization and industry partnering, 541-737-9058, brian.wall@oregonstate.edu.

The post Disruptive Software appeared first on Terra Magazine.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

The Tao of Forest Management

Terra - Fri, 02/10/2017 - 3:16pm

By Thomas Maness, Cheryl Ramberg-Ford and Allyn C. Ford Dean, College of Forestry

When it comes to proper management of our public forests, some would like to take a page from the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu. He posed the concept of non-action as an approach to life. In our forests, if we do nothing and let nature take its course, this line of reasoning goes, these landscapes will return to a more “natural state” on their own.

Thomas Maness, Dean, College of Forestry

The trouble is, the natural state of forests includes fire — a lot of fire. They will never return to a state that existed in the past, because the conditions that created them no longer exist. What actions should we take to manage our forests for the multiple benefits we expect? We need to recognize that fire has a role to play and that, at the same time, we can reduce the risk of catastrophic loss.

As a worldwide leader in forestry, Oregon State University conducts balanced and unbiased research to help drive land management decisions. We have shown that our public forests would benefit from two proactive management techniques with a positive environmental impact: thinning and prescribed burning.

Thinning reduces the density of trees and allows the remaining ones to grow faster. Fire doesn’t move as quickly across the landscape. Removing branches on the ground — so-called ladder fuel — greatly reduces the risk of fire climbing into the upper canopy and getting out of hand.

Unfortunately, thinning is expensive. It costs taxpayer dollars, and there will never be enough to properly thin all of our forests unless we can simultaneously produce income to offset some of the costs.

Prescribed burning, on the other hand, is a relatively inexpensive option that accomplishes the same goal. By burning on a cool day when humidity is high, fire can be controlled as it reduces the fuel load and improves the health of the forest. It is an idea that is struggling to gain traction with the public.

We are conducting research that will indicate the best locations for prescribed burning. We are also identifying those where thinning would be preferred, such as near communities.

Today’s forest ecosystem was shaped by fire – both human-caused and natural – over hundreds of years. The pattern of trees remaining after one fire directly affects the next fire. The resulting forest is like a Jackson Pollock painting with random splashes of color and line. The uniqueness of a given ecosystem is marked as much by what is not there as much as by what is.

I and foresters around the country grow increasingly concerned with the health of our federally managed forest lands. We also worry about the health of rural communities. Due to many factors — a changing climate, political inaction, the financial burden of managing a huge land base that produces very little — our approach to these forests has created a landscape ripe for large fires.

Also like a Pollock painting, our federal forests are extremely valuable. Using proactive management techniques will help retain their value for years to come. We are working with leaders on all sides to help drive a more proactive approach for managing our forests and ensuring a healthy landscape for generations to come.  Although we have made small strides, the time has come to take action.

The post The Tao of Forest Management appeared first on Terra Magazine.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

What Do We Love Too Much to Lose?

Terra - Fri, 02/10/2017 - 2:57pm

By Theresa Hogue

Concert pianist and OSU music professor Rachelle McCabe had been collaborating with philosopher Kathleen Dean Moore for more than a decade when she found herself in the audience of one of Moore’s climate-change talks in 2014. Moore was challenging everyone to step up and take action against environmental degradation and the destruction of species. McCabe, who had previously set some of Moore’s writings to classical-music pieces, was so moved by Moore’s challenge that she leapt to her feet at the conclusion and stopped Moore in the aisle.

Rachelle McCabe, left, and Kathleen Dean Moore (Photo: Zachary C. Person)

“I said ‘I need to work with you on this,’” McCabe says. A month later, the two met to talk about how their previous collaborations could expand into something much bigger. After considering various approaches, McCabe hit upon a favorite piece of music that she felt was perfectly suited to a discussion about extinction and safeguarding the Earth’s abundance.

The piece, Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Variations on a Theme of Corelli, Op. 42, is in large part a deeply dark and lonely work, at times almost a lament, but with a compelling sense of purpose and eventually, a glimmer of hope. “The music,” says McCabe, “lends itself to anger and frustration and resolution.”

The project that evolved from their discussion — A Call to Life: Variations on a Theme of Extinction — combines musical performance with spoken word. Moore and McCabe have performed it up and down the West Coast and as far abroad as Hawaii and Calgary. Everywhere they go, audiences are moved to tears, and often, to taking direct action against the extinction of species and the onward progress of habitat destruction. And in the face of a changing political climate, the artist and philosopher are determined that their message is more important than ever.

Musical Narrative

When McCabe played the Rachmaninoff piece to Moore, they poured over every aspect, as McCabe talked about how each portion of the piece made her feel, and how that might translate into a call to action. Moore, in response, began writing a narrative to accompany the composition, and the two flowed together organically.

“Rachelle played it many times, and I would sit here and listen, and we’d just look at each other and try not to cry,” Moore says. “It was clear to me that this was music about loss. I said this is going to be a piece about extinction, about irretrievable loss. And we knew it also had to be a call to action, because you cannot dwell on tragedy when there’s still a chance to avert it.”

And although the languages of music and philosophy at first seem far removed, they found translation easy. “Rachelle does see the world through music,” Moore adds, “so when something comes into her mind it’s transformed into music.”

Quickly the project took shape, and their first presentation was at the Corvallis-Benton County Library, to a packed house. They were both nervous about the reception but immediately sensed that their message was getting across.

“They absolutely were moved,” McCabe recalls. “I looked out a couple times to see their eyes. You can tell when a group is engaged.”

“They were frozen, and they were weeping, and then when it was over, they stood up and they roared,” says Moore. “And then so many of them came up afterward and they all said two things to us: ‘You’ve got to get this out farther than Corvallis’ and ‘Tell me what to do.’”

Call to Life directly tells participants what to do, once they determine what it is that they love too much to lose. Audience members receive dozens of suggestions on how to halt the extinction of species. “There are three things I talk about,” Moore says. “I can stop making it worse. I can protect, create and restore habitat. I can imagine new human life-ways.”

Call to Action

Braced by the success of their first performance, Moore and McCabe found ways to take their show on the road. “We were astonished and maybe a little bit frightened at the power of this,” Moore says. “You stand up in front of a large group, and you really don’t know what will happen. We were taken aback by people’s response to this.”

They visited a village in Alaska, a huge conference in Hawaii, as well as Calgary, Washington, California, Illinois and Arizona. And at each location, they found the same emotional reaction.

“We say that we want to open people’s hearts without breaking them,” says Moore. “People are so emotionally taken by it, suddenly they allow themselves to understand, to actually see. They knew this all along, but it opens their hearts into this direct perception. The ideas ride the music the way spindrift rides the waves.”

And audience members started taking action. In Arizona, a woman told them, “When we go to a lecture my brain is filled. But today I feel my heart is filled as well.” A man from Illinois spontaneously decided to turn his property into a wildlife sanctuary. And a young pianist, feeling adrift, pledged to hold concerts as fundraisers for environmental causes. He keeps McCabe updated on his progress.

Following the recent presidential election and what McCabe and Moore see as a deepening backlash against the science of climate change, they’ve become more dedicated to getting their message across. While they’re conscious of the carbon cost of air travel and are limited by the financial costs as well, they’ve made their collaboration available online with help from Eric Gleske in Information Services at Oregon State. The presentation includes a video and a study guide. Their hope is that people will organize viewing parties with friends, neighbors and colleagues and then collaborate to make their own changes in the world.

“We really want to bring people to this work,” Moore adds. “We’re just now beginning to think that through. You can’t have people practically pounding on you to get this out to the world and not feel a real compulsion to do that.”

Above all, Moore and McCabe want to elevate the discussion on habitat destruction and environmental degradation from a place of doom and gloom to a place where individuals feel that they can still make a difference. “Out of death there is a ray of hope,” McCabe says. “Life continues. That’s the hopeful outcome Kathy always has in her writing. This is not the end, there’s more.”

Performance Set for April 7 at the LaSells Stewart Center

McCabe and Moore will give an encore presentation of “A Call to Life” at the LaSells Stewart Center’s Austin Auditorium at 7 p.m., April 7. The event will include a panel of researchers and science teachers who will discuss extinction and the astounding diversity of species.

For more information: www.riverwalking.com

The post What Do We Love Too Much to Lose? appeared first on Terra Magazine.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Is Summertime Undermining Obesity Prevention Efforts During the School Year?

Health & Wellness Events - Fri, 02/10/2017 - 2:40pm
Friday, February 10, 2017 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

"What’s UP (Undermining Prevention) with Summer: Is Summertime Undermining Obesity Prevention Efforts During the School Year?" Michael W. Beets, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor, Department of Exercise Science, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina.

Dr. Michael Beets received his PhD in Health Education and Behavior from Oregon State University in 2007 and an MPH and MEd from Wichita State University. He is currently an Associate Professor at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina, where he serves as Program Director for the MPH in Physical Activity and Public Health and the Graduate Division Head of Health Aspects of Physical Activity.

His research interests include physical activity promotion and dietary behaviors in children and family, and socio-ecological influences on physical activity and dietary behaviors for children with disabilities. He is PI on two NICHD grants, one focused on heathy eating and activity time in summer camps and one titled “Policy to Practice: Statewide Rollout of YMCA Childhood Obesity Standards.”

The college-wide research seminar is Co-Sponsored by:

  • CPHHS Research Office;
  • Hallie Ford Center;
  • Center for Healthy Aging;
  • Moore Family Center for Whole Grain Foods Nutrition and Preventive Health;
  • and the Center for Global Health.

This seminar is also sponsored by the Kinesiology Program.

The seminar series provides a forum for faculty in the College of Public Health & Human Sciences and other researcher to present and discuss current research in topics in an environment conducive to stimulating research collaboration and fostering student learning.

Faculty and students from the Division of Health Sciences and other colleges, research centers and institutions are encouraged to participate. 

Visit CPHHS Seminars to view video of past seminars and a schedule of upcoming seminars.

Leading Indicators — 2015

Terra - Fri, 02/10/2017 - 2:26pm
Enduring Questions Research advances human well-being

By Cynthia Sagers, Vice President for Research
To download the Annual Report of Research 2015, click on the image above.

When I was an undergraduate at the University of Iowa, an opportunity to do research changed my life. I worked at a biological field station in Panama, leading a tropical forest census during the day and discussing science with sophisticated researchers in the dining hall at night. I came away inspired by their insightful research, and believing that it could help make the world a better place.

Cynthia Sagers, Vice President for Research, Oregon State University.

Research experiences are indeed transformative. Oregon State University excels at providing students — both undergrads and graduates — with extraordinary research opportunities. Research as a way of learning deepens our understanding and enriches our education programs. Students challenge themselves in labs, in the field and through partnerships with business and industry. They engage in a great scientific tradition that is guided by perception, imagination and transparency.

The rich history of research, creativity and innovation is directly connected to the quality of life that we enjoy in the United States. Discovery and invention arise from basic research — that is, the ability to ask “what if” questions. Research contributes to rapid advances in applied areas of economics, human health and resource management. Students are critical to the research and development mission of the OSU campus.

It is human nature to ask about how things work, how we came to be, and why we are here. Our students learn that research provides tools to understanding these enduring questions.

The post Leading Indicators — 2015 appeared first on Terra Magazine.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Woodland Management – Basic Forestry Shortcourse

Forestry Events - Thu, 02/09/2017 - 2:39pm
Thursday, February 9, 2017 6:00 PM - 8:30 PM

This five-session course is ideal for anyone who is just starting out taking care of a woodland property. It also serves as preparation for the OSU Master Woodland Manager Training. Topics covered include:
•Getting Started: Assessing your property and your site
•What’s Going on in Your Woods? Understanding tree biology and forest ecology
•Taking Care of Your Woods: Tree planting, care for an established forest, weed control
•Getting it Done: Safety, tools and techniques, timber sale logistics, and laws and regulations.

Instructor: Glenn Ahrens, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension Agent.

Registration required: Cost for the course is $40 for one participant/$50 for two or more participants from the same family. Please pre-register no later than February 5. Use the form on the next page or contact Jean at
503-655-8631 or jean.bremer@oregonstate.edu.

Questions? Contact Glenn Ahrens, 503-655-8631 or glenn.ahrens@oregonstate.edu.

Leading Indicators 2016

Terra - Thu, 02/09/2017 - 10:11am

By Cynthia Sagers, Vice President for Research

To download the annual report of research, 2016, click on the image above.

During my first year as the vice president for research at Oregon State University, I had the opportunity to learn much about the university’s research enterprise and to be inspired by the work that takes place here every day.

My first and strongest impression from this past year on the job centers on our Oregon State faculty. Quite simply, they are fearless — fearless in tackling some of our planet’s most pressing problems. From climate change and food security to renewable energy and earthquake resilience,

OSU researchers are at the leading edge of their respective fields. For the second straight year, Oregon State research funding set a new record. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, researchers earned $336 million in grants and contracts. This accomplishment is testament to our faculty’s expertise and dogged quest for discovery.

The culture of collaboration across disciplines distinguishes our faculty and contributes to  OSU’s success. This unique community fosters discovery, creativity and innovation and inspires new scientists, engineers and teachers who come to Oregon State from around the world.

I hope you will enjoy reading Oregon State’s “Leading Indicators: 2016 Annual Report of Research.” In addition to our numbers, this annual report has information about discoveries involving the world’s coral reefs, new approaches to cancer treatment and earthquake resiliency efforts.

Moving forward, the challenge for Oregon State is to do even better. I am committed to finding the resources and the support our faculty needs to continue its exceptional pursuit of knowledge.

The post Leading Indicators 2016 appeared first on Terra Magazine.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Tree seedling supply remains uncertain

Tree Topics - Thu, 02/09/2017 - 9:42am

Jen Gorski, OSU Forestry and Natural Resources Extension, Clackamas County

Oregon forest landowners and Christmas tree growers are having difficulty locating seedlings to buy.

In response, the Oregon Department of Forestry, OSU Extension and other partners are working hard to identify and solve the problems limiting the supply. It’s not an easy fix; many pieces account for the problems and the solutions.

OSU Clackamas County Extension hosted a meeting in January to discuss the seedling supply. Landowners revealed that certain species or stock types are not always available within a year of planting. This presents some uncertain choices and potential compromise. One year plugs may be available in lieu of 1-1 transplants (2 year old seedlings). The 1-1 transplants have a fibrous root system and a track record of success in challenging conditions. However, future survival of one year plugs is uncertain.

This is not an entirely new problem. There has been a perennial issue for those who wish to order fewer than 20,000 seedlings, the minimum contract order for many nurseries. Consequently, the Clackamas County Farm Forestry Association (CCFFA) and some other OSWA chapters provide the opportunity for their members to batch small orders together and order collectively.

There are many reasons for the current seedling supply situation. These include capacity loss during the recession, shifting management practices and demand following fire.

Part of the challenge is this: producing bareroot seedlings (still the industry mainstay) takes over two years of lead time. Nurseries have to supply all the costly resources at the front end: picking the cones or fruit, cleaning the seed, pre-treating then sowing the seed, and growing/transplanting the seedlings. Timber companies are ordering 2+ years ahead. Small forest landowners and Christmas tree growers may need to get used to the idea of ordering that far ahead as well.


Strategies and Resources

Communicate with the ODF and partners working on this issue! Making your concern and any challenges you’ve had finding seedlings known will help focus our joint effort.

In the meantime, here are some resources to work with when looking for seedlings.

The ODF November 2016 publication, Sources of Native Forest Nursery Seedlings,  provides an up-to-date list of regional nurseries who sell seed and seedlings.

Alternatively, Bob McNitt’s Forest Seedling Network,  is a website in which nurseries can list their available stock online that a user can search to find what they need. It showcases a very useful seed zone map in which you locate your planting site, and get your seed zone number with a list of seedling suppliers and their contact info.

A new website has just come online for ordering tree seedlings. It has been developed by Mike Taylor, also the manager of IFA

A bench of Douglas-fir plugs

Nurseries in Canby. Because of the high need for small quantities of seedlings, this website has been created to bundle small orders together to obtain quantities greater than 20,000. Mike is behind-the-curtain, serving a great market need with his expertise. Visit Saplings, Inc.,. One can order now for winter of 2018-2019, and down the road, the system may help connect people to future seedling supplies.

The post Tree seedling supply remains uncertain appeared first on TreeTopics.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Christmas Tree Genetics & Tree Improvement Webinar Series

Forestry Events - Wed, 02/08/2017 - 2:42pm
Wednesday, February 8, 2017 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

Understanding genetics and tree improvement is critical to the success of your Christmas tree farm, whether you know it or not. From selecting the right species for your site to starting your own seed orchard, tree genetics impact your operation every day.

In this five part webinar series, leading Christmas tree scientists from throughout the U.S. will present an in-depth discussion of the critical elements of Christmas tree improvement and how genetic selection can improve the growth, health, and quality of your trees and make your farm more profitable.

Webinar schedule:
Feb. 1 The Tree Improvement Process: Selection, Testing & Breeding
Feb. 8 Capturing Genetic Gain: Seed Collection Zones & Seed Orchards
Feb 15 Tree Improvement Techniques: Grafting, Controlled-pollination & Tissue Culture
Feb. 22 Tree Improvement Case Studies From Around the Country and Around the World
March 1 Future Issues: Genetic Engineering and Genomics of Fir Species


Rick Bates - Penn State University

Gary Chastagner - Washington State University

Bert Cregg - Michigan State University

John Frampton - North Carolina State University

Chal Landgren - Oregon State University

Lilian Matallana - North Carolina State University

Jim Rockis - Reliable Source Seeds and Transplants

Cost: No charge - registration is required. Register by January 25 at:

Contact: Bert Cregg cregg@msu.edu 517-353-0335
Accommodations for persons with disabilities may be requested by contacting Jill O’Donnell, 231-779-9480 by January 25, 2017 to make arrangements. Requests received after this date will be fulfilled when possible.

Basic Woodland Management - Washington County

Forestry Events - Wed, 02/08/2017 - 2:42pm
Wednesday, February 8, 2017 6:00 PM - 8:30 PM

This five-session course is ideal for anyone who is just starting out taking care of a woodland property. Topics covered include:
• Getting Started: Assessing your property and your site
• What’s Going on in Your Woods? Understanding tree biology, forest ecology and habitat
• Taking Care of Your Woods: tree planting, care for an established forest, weed control
• Getting it Done: Timber sale logistics, and laws and regulations.
• Field trip to see first-hand examples of what you’ve learned


• Cost for the course is $50 for one participant/$60 for two or more participants from the same family.
• Course is taught in a blended online/in person format. Participants will be given short online assignments to complete prior to each class session.
• Instructor is Amy Grotta, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension Agent - Columbia, Washington & Yamhill Counties
• To attend you must pre-register no later than January 25th. Use the form below or register online at: http://tinyurl.com/basicwoodlandmanagement.
• Questions? Contact Amy Grotta, (503) 397-3462 or amy.grotta@oregonstate.edu
Basic Woodland

Small Beauties

Terra - Tue, 02/07/2017 - 4:56pm

By Nick Houtman

In a bathtub-sized kiln at the back of her art studio, Jerri Bartholomew stacks layers of glass, one on top of each other like an oversized deck of cards. She closes the lid, flips a switch and waits for the temperature to climb. When the glass begins to glow red-hot, it melts and fuses into a single object, becoming a translucent collage of form and pattern.

The journey of a parasitic fish killer, Ceratonova shasta, by Jerri Bartholomew

As an artist, Bartholomew applies favorite images to her pieces — the graceful arch of a tree, a memorable camping spot on Mount Adams, a dragon fly’s wing, a Chinook salmon. “Most of what I do comes from nature,” Bartholomew says. “A lot of my pieces tell a story about a place. But I enjoy the process of collage, taking random images and putting them together and trying to get the feeling of place. It’s as much about the composition as it is about the subject matter.”

Layers of meaning also concern Bartholomew in her day job, head of the microbiology department and the John L. Fryer Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory at Oregon State University. She and her research team pursue clues about cause and effect — how a parasite kills fish, how a pulse of river water changes the risk of infection, how a worm no bigger than an eyelash forms a vital link in a deadly cycle.

“In some ways, science is stripping away the layers to see what’s beneath,” says Bartholomew, “and art is the opposite, building up the layers to create something new.” Both draw from the same creative impulse, a desire to ask questions, to experiment and to learn from trial and error.

In a collaboration with The Arts Center in Corvallis, Bartholomew is bringing her two worlds together, culminating in April in a show — Microbiomes: To see the unseen. The scientist and her colleagues have hosted artists in their lab to explore life forms as diverse as they are micro. Researchers shared their knowledge and curiosity about bacteria and their kin, which morph from one shape to another, communicate through chemical signals, invade other organisms and disperse like dust through air, water and soil.

jQuery(document).ready(function($){ var moving = $('#aesop-quote-component-21453-1 blockquote'), component = $('#aesop-quote-component-21453-1'); // if parallax is on and we're not on mobile moving.waypoint({ offset: '90%', handler: function(direction){ $(this).toggleClass('aesop-quote-faded'); } }); }); Microbiomes: To see the unseen, will be open to the public at The Arts Center of Corvallis, April 13 to May 27. An opening celebration is scheduled for April 20, 4 - 8 pm. On May 21, an event is planned featuring a musical composition by Dana Reason of the OSU music department and poetry and prose from OSU's Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature and the Written Word.

In turn, the artists conducted their own observations by collecting microbes from surfaces — a door knob, a slice of bread, a pet’s hair, their own skin — and seeing what would grow on standard agar plates. They reflected on how microorganisms cheat or steal from each other and how some seem to communicate like gossips at a picnic.

The goal is simple: to bring scientists and artists together and to spur a conversation. “I think that’s going to really change the creative process,” Bartholomew says. “The artists are going to start asking questions that are compelling, that we haven’t thought of, because they’re looking at the microbiome in a different way.”

Ripen in the Mud

Bartholomew and her colleagues have spent their careers asking their own questions of the microbiome. In particular, they have focused on a parasite that is extraordinarily lethal to fish and goes by the name Ceratonova shastaC. shasta for short. If that’s not memorable enough, the illness it causes might be: gut-rot disease.

The scientists have asked how this creature does its dirty work. Where did it come from? Who are its relations? How is it influenced by climate, hydrology and the animals that serve as repository or host?

The Klamath River at Keno Eddy in the upper portion of the basin (Photo: Stephen Atkinson)

First discovered in a fish hatchery near Mount Shasta in 1948, gut rot (aka enteronecrosis) has been found in fish in many Oregon rivers: the Columbia, Willamette, Cowlitz, Clackamas, Deschutes and Rogue. However, the Klamath is ground zero. Here, the parasite thrives in sluggish channels on warm summer days, causing severe and ongoing losses in juvenile Chinook salmon.

When Bartholomew came to Oregon State as a graduate student in 1981, scientists had been stumped about just how C. shasta lived. They knew the organism is a member of a clever group of parasites known as Myxozoans, which kill fish with a variety of illnesses: whirling disease, PKD (proliferative kidney disease) and even one called hamburger gill disease.

This polychaete worm has ingested several parasitic cells. (Photo courtesy of the Bartholomew lab)

These microbes are about the size of a blood cell and invisible to the naked eye. In rivers around the world, evidence of their presence accumulates as dead fish pile up in eddies and along shorelines. Last summer, in an effort to control the spread of a PKD infection in mountain white fish, more than 200 miles of the Yellowstone River in Montana were closed to recreation for about six weeks. Another Myxozoan parasite deforms fish and causes them to swim in a corkscrew fashion — a condition known as whirling disease. This microbe, a European immigrant, has spread to much of the Northeast and the West, decimating trout in some streams.

Partly in a need to get to the bottom of such problems, Fryer had established one of the country’s premier fish-disease research programs at Oregon State. Scientists in his lab were pursuing vaccines to protect fish from bacterial diseases, but Bartholomew launched into a study of C. shasta. A graduate student had already shown that, unlike infectious diseases such as the flu or the common cold in humans, gut-rot disease could not be passed directly from one fish to another. The conventional wisdom, Bartholomew says, was that to complete the infection cycle, the microorganism had to “ripen in the mud.”

Even more puzzling was another mystery. Fish would be infected in some parts of the river but not others. Through a series of trial-and-error experiments, it took Bartholomew, Fryer and their colleagues 16 years to identify a tiny worm that comprises a critical part of the disease process.

It Goes Like This

When an infected fish dies, C. shasta spores (a kind of microbial seed) pour out of the carcass and into the water like rats off a sinking ship. As the microorganisms float downstream, they pass mats of worms living on the streambed. About the size of an eyelash, these worms feed indiscriminately by gathering particles from the water.

Once ingested by the worm, C. shasta does something remarkable: It fires two filaments into the wall of the worm’s feeding tube. Once the filaments penetrate the wall, C. shasta opens up, and out crawls an amoeba that shimmies its way into the body of the worm.

“The amoeba wriggles through the worm’s gut cells and begins to proliferate and make spores,” says Sascha Hallett, a scientist in Bartholomew’s lab. In this process, the spores also transform themselves into a different shape. Although they are the same microbe, these shape-shifters no longer look the same as the spores that came out of the fish. C. shasta isn’t lethal to the worm, which discharges the transformed spores back out into the water. “Unless the worm is really heavily infected,” says Bartholomew, “they can just continue to release these spores continually for a long period of time.”

The life cycle of Certonova shasta, known previously as Ceratomyxa shasta, is shown in this illustration from the Bartholomew lab at Oregon State.

As these C. shasta spores drift aimlessly in the current, they wait for a fish to pass. When a salmon or trout comes close enough, through a signal that is still not understood, the parasite again fires its filaments and, like a pirate boarding party, climbs aboard through the gills. Thus begins the final leg of this complicated journey. C. shasta navigates through the host’s blood, following a path forged long ago by a primordial ancestor. When it arrives in the gut, it fulfills its destiny and launches into a reproductive frenzy, eventually causing inflammation that is fatal to its host. The dying fish empties its load of parasites into the water to begin the cycle all over again.

Most of the C. shasta story has been discovered in the last 20 years. While the life cycle provides clues about how and where the parasite infects commercially important fish, scientists are still writing other chapters. For example, Stephen Atkinson, a research associate in Bartholomew’s lab, has found that there are several types of C. shasta. Each one infects a single species of fish.

Other researchers have demonstrated that Myxozoans have an unlikely family history. Most of their distant kin live in the ocean, including jellyfish, corals and sea anemones. Bartholomew is collaborating with scientists in Israel on a project to understand the filament firing mechanism of this diverse group. One of the goals is to find a treatment for Myxozoan parasites that infect fish raised in Israeli aquaculture farms.

To date, these microbes have not been shown to cause infections in humans. However, researchers have found Myxozoan infections in duck and shrews, and spores have been detected in people with compromised immune systems. Toxins from infected fish have been linked to gastroenteritis. “So now we have them in mammals and birds as well as fish. I think there’s a lot to be discovered about their diversity,” says Bartholomew.

Creativity in Science

Back in her studio, Bartholomew reflects on the relationship between her science and her art. “Science is incredibly creative,” she says. “You start by thinking about what questions you should be asking, then by thinking about the experiments that could answer those questions. You often do a lot of experimenting on a small scale to test these ideas and to refine your questions before embarking on a large study.

Specimen 53, Ceratonova shasta, by Jerri Bartholomew

“That’s kind of what I do when I come into the studio. Because glass can be an unforgiving medium, I often conduct a series of experiments in a small format, changing one variable at a time. Once these experiments work, I can take the piece to a bigger scale.”

Answers in both science and art lead inevitably to new questions. For example, discovering the importance of the worm in the C. shasta life cycle caused Bartholomew’s team to rethink what they had already learned. “And then we understood why it was found in one river system and not in another one,” she says, “because one river is conducive to the worm being present, and another is not.”

It takes persistence and technical skill to uncover the life cycle of something you can’t see with the naked eye. Nevertheless, she adds, the practice of exploring relationships through art provides fuel for the journey. “Giving myself the space to be creative in art is helpful when I approach my science. I look at science as a big puzzle. I get excited about new ideas and new techniques that we can use to think about how we can fit things together,” she adds.

Detail of Mount Adams, a fused glass work by Jerri Bartholomew.

“Each piece may require a different approach, so you have to be really creative about how you put them together. Once we solved the life cycle, we could start asking a whole other set of questions. You have to be creative about what these approaches are and be willing to go beyond your own discipline. You have to ask how an engineer or a hydrologist or a mathematician would approach the problem.

“It’s like in art. The more techniques you know, the more possibilities you have. I’m learning video now. Who knows what that’s going to do? You’re always adding to your tool box.”

The Microbiomes show at The Arts Center provides Bartholomew an opportunity to do something that she has avoided until now: to present the C. shasta parasite in her art. “The parasite itself is really beautiful,” she says. “To this day I rarely sit down at a microscope without uttering a silent ‘wow.’”


Editor’s note: Learn more about the OSU Microbiome Initiative.

jQuery(document).ready(function($){ var stackedResizer = function(){ $('.aesop-stacked-img').css({'height':($(window).height())+'px'}); } stackedResizer(); $(window).resize(function(){ stackedResizer(); }); }); Undulata bas by Kristin Levier, Moscow, Idaho Zika by Lanny Bergner, Anacortes, Washington Some of the steps in developing a fish vaccine show up in this fused glass work by Jerri Bartholomew. Specimen 53, Ceratonova shasta, by Jerri Bartholomew. Detail of Mount Adams, a fused glass work by Jerri Bartholomew. Mount Adams, a fused glass work by Jerri Bartholomew. Dog Kisses, by Kate McGee, Philomath Growth-One, Debby Sundbaum Sommer, Philomath Living Images Yeastogram, by Johanna Rotko of Kotka, Finland.

The post Small Beauties appeared first on Terra Magazine.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs


Terra - Tue, 02/07/2017 - 2:35pm

WHEN BEAVERS BUILD DAMS, streams slow down, sediment accumulates and ponds grow. Meadows are born. Water nurtures new vegetation, a boon for wildlife and livestock.

But without beavers, streams speed up, scour channels and turn into gullies. Meadows dry out. Willows, sedges and other wetland vegetation give way to drought-tolerant shrubs.

At least that’s the theory. In the arid valleys of Eastern Oregon, Caroline Nash is learning that the truth may be a lot more complicated.

The Oregon State University Ph.D. student in Water Resources Engineering is testing the idea that beavers are key to restoring streams that have cut their way down into the soil and left their floodplain meadows high and dry. Hydrologists have a word for these channels: “incised.”

“Theories about incised streams been around in the scientific literature for over 100 years,” says Nash. “We have a pretty good idea about what causes this to happen in specific locations, but we don’t have a universal theory. There are so many reasons a creek can do this, and there are so many things that can happen when it does, depending on the climate and what the vegetation was when you started. There are a lot of factors.”

The story may actually start with the forces that created meadows in the first place. Fast-moving streams often splash and tumble over boulders and create spectacular landscapes along the way. “You typically see more erosion happening in headwater streams,” says Nash. “In meadows, erosion is stopping, and deposition is occurring. Why is that?”

(Photo: Caroline Nash)

The question isn’t just a hydrologic curiosity. Across the West, landowners and organizations interested in meadow restoration are taking cues from nature and installing artificial beaver dams on small streams. A team of federal and Portland State University scientists has even published The Beaver Restoration Guidebook to promote the practice.

These structures are typically made of local materials: wood, rocks and clay. They stretch from bank to bank and raise water levels from a few inches to a foot or two. But there are regulatory hurdles. State law requires fish passage, although waivers can be granted. New rules for artificial beaver dams are under development by the Oregon Department of State Lands.

Caroline Nash (Photo: Susan Doverspike)

Working with Gordon Grant, hydrologist in the U.S. Forest Service and Oregon State’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Nash is digging into the origins of a meadow in the floodplain of Cottonwood Creek on the Silvies Valley Ranch north of Burns. She wants to learn how long the meadow has been there, how it grew and whether beavers are necessary for long-term stability. And she is seeking permits to install artificial beaver dams to track the impact of such structures on meadow development in the animals’ absence.

Ice and Cattle

To collect data on when and where water is flowing, she is monitoring streamflow, groundwater and the weather. This tributary to the Silvies River is typical of an incised stream in ranch country but presents scientists with a difficult challenge. It practically dries up in the summer. In the winter, snow and ice can damage sensitive equipment.  Nearby Seneca holds the record for the lowest temperature ever recorded in Oregon: minus 54 degrees Fahrenheit.

On Cottonwood Creek, Caroline Nash has installed weirs to monitor water flow. Collecting such baseline data will help her determine how water and weather combine with geology to shape meadows. (Photo: Susan Doverspike)

And then there are curious cattle. To measure streamflow, hydrologists often install weirs, small dams with a V-shaped opening through which water flows. The pond that backs up behind the weir becomes an irresistible attraction to thirsty livestock. That means monitoring equipment must be put behind a fence.

Solving these problems led Nash into an unexpected partnership with skilled laborers — the people who weld, drill wells, irrigate and maintain fences at the ranch. “There’s a lot of knowledge and brilliance among the people who do this for a living,” she says. “We had to come up with a way that is collaborative, practical, economic and still effective.”

A weather station installed by Nash provides data for her research. (Photo: Susan Doverspike)

Nash grew up in Connecticut and has learned about more than the science of stream monitoring. With support and encouragement from owner Scott Campbell, she and the Silvies Valley Ranch team have adapted the tools of the hydrology trade to the rigors of an arid, working landscape. “I’ve become a passionate proponent of working with professional field workers and tradesmen to design and install equipment,” she adds.

Fortunately, Nash is getting help from stream itself. That’s because as the water cuts down through the soil, it reveals ancient layers of sediment and leaves an exposed timeline that ticks off deposition over decades and centuries. One layer in particular — ash from the eruption of Mount Mazama that created Crater Lake more than 7,000 years ago — gives the researchers a starting point that is common in other meadows around the Northwest.

“Our goal is to look at the water and the geology and make our best professional judgment about why we think these meadows were here to begin with,” says Nash. “That leads us to what we think a responsible set of restoration strategies could be. Ultimately, if we can support landowners who want the ability to restore some of these creeks without costing the state a lot of money, that would be a really good thing.”

Nash hopes to complete her study in the spring of 2018.

Snow covers a meadow on Cottonwood Creek where Caroline Nash is conducting her research. (Photo: Susan Doverspike)

The post Meadowlands appeared first on Terra Magazine.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs