Come Rain or Shine

Adaptive Silviculture for Climate Change

December 01, 2021 USDA Southwest Climate Hub & DOI Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center Season 2 Episode 15
Come Rain or Shine
Adaptive Silviculture for Climate Change
Show Notes Transcript

The Adaptive Silviculture for Climate Change (ASCC) project is a collaborative effort to establish experimental trials of climate change adaptation strategies across different forest ecosystems throughout the United States and Canada. According to the society of American Foresters, silviculture is “the art and science of controlling the establishment, growth, composition, health, and quality of forests and woodlands to meet the diverse needs and values of landowners and society.” In this episode we visit with Dr. Linda Nagel, department head for forest and rangeland stewardship at CSU and ASCC network lead and principal investigator, and Courtney Peterson, research associate at CSU and ASCC network coordinator, about this exciting project. Episode image credit: Courtney Peterson


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DOI Southwest CASC:
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Emile Elias: Welcome to Come Rain or Shine, podcast of the USDA Southwest Climate Hub 

Sarah LeRoy: and the USGS Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center, or Southwest CASC. I'm Sarah LeRoy, Science Applications and Communications Coordinator for the Southwest CASC.

Emile Elias: And I'm Emile Elias, Director of the Southwest Climate Hub.

Here we highlight stories to share the most recent advances in climate science, weather and climate adaptation and innovative practices to support resilient landscapes and communities.

Sarah LeRoy: We believe that sharing some of the most innovative forward thinking and creative climate science and adaptation will strengthen our collective ability to respond to even the most challenging impacts of climate change in one of the hottest and driest regions of the world.

Emile Elias: Courtney and Linda. Thanks for being here. Today, we're going to talk about adaptation and silviculture. Forest managers need robust examples of how to integrate climate change adaptation into planning and on the ground actions. Today, we will hear about the Adaptive Silviculture for Climate Change Project, or ASCC project. This is a collaborative effort to establish experimental trials across different forest ecosystems throughout the United States, and Canada. The term silviculture may be new to some of our listeners. According to the Society of American Foresters, silviculture is the art and science of controlling the establishment, growth, composition, health and quality of forests and woodlands to meet the diverse needs and values of landowners and society.

Today, we're here with Dr. Linda Nagel. She is the department head for Forest and Rangeland Stewardship at Colorado State University, and also the ASCC network lead and principal investigator. And we're also with Courtney Peterson, she is a research associate at CSU and the ASCC network coordinator.

Welcome Linda and Courtney. Linda, could you please start us off by describing the project further and how it came to be. 

Linda Nagel: Great, thank you, Emile. We are really happy to be here today and thanks for starting us off with that excellent definition of silviculture, which is truly one of my favorite topics. So, how did the Adaptive Silviculture for Climate Change project or ASCC network come to be?

Well, it started about 12 or 13 years ago, actually. I was a faculty member at Michigan Tech in the upper peninsula of Michigan. And at that time I was directing and teaching a two week intensive silviculture training program for the US Forest Service and part of their, it was part of their National Advanced Silviculture program.

And I was also working really closely with the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science. They were actually carbon science at that time. Now they're the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science. So, we were working on some very early climate change and climate adaptation training for foresters and a secret that I'll reveal to you from those early days.

One of our first projects, we thought that, you know, we could come together and produce like a manager's guide for climate adaptive forestry, like the manager's handbooks for different species in that region, like red pine or black spruce management. But as we dove into this work, we realized that it wasn't that simple.

We couldn't create a dichotomous key of answers or a shiny new tool. This was just too complex of an issue. So one of the first things we worked on together was to build a climate adaptation module as part of that US Forest Service training program. And then my colleague Maria Janowiak from the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science and I attended a conference, the National Silviculture workshop, where we presented on this module that we had built for this training program. And that really generated a lot of interest. People were, you know, very supportive of what we were doing. They said, this is really great. You've made these theoretical ideas and framework accessible to forest managers, but we really need some examples of what this looks like on the ground.

And so a little while later, I got a phone call from another colleague in the Forest Service. He was from the Southern research station and he, and some folks in the Washington office were able to garner some funding from a global change program back in about 2008 or so. And they really wanted us to develop a study that would look at different forest types to test different adaptation strategies. And he asked if I would like to lead a project like that. And I said, absolutely, this sounds really, really exciting. So we drafted a concept paper proposal of what this would look like. And the scope of it was to test out a spectrum of adaptation approaches to build a robust experimental framework and to design implementation in a variety of forest types.

And so that's kind of where the project really began. We spent the first couple of years really talking about what does it mean to have an adaptive forest ecosystem? We, we worked with a group of thought leaders from across the United States to develop some working terminology and to test out our framework.

And then in 2013, we built our first site and our goal was to build three to five sites across different forest types in the US. We currently have 11 and we're going strong and continue to grow. But that's really where the idea came from was, you know, from the management community itself. And, uh, you know, some really incredible foresight from the leadership within the US Forest Service.

Emile Elias: Excellent, thanks Linda. And Courtney, when or how did you come to be part of this ASCC network? 

Courtney Peterson: Thanks, Emile. And it's great to be here talking with all of you today as well. I started with the ASCC network in 2017. And so this position as a research associate under Linda came open and I was really excited to bring together that human dimensions and social science side with the forestry experience that I had.

And so it was a great opportunity in this position to really bring those skills with workshop facilitation and working with land managers into to that climate adaptation realm. And so I started working with Linda at that point in time, after five sites had already been developed as a part of the ASCC network.

And so I've been working with Linda since then to help lead facilitation of the workshops that we do as we start developing and establishing the different ASCC sites and coordinating across the different sites as a part of the network to really, how do we move those conversations forward? When can we start thinking about cross site research questions and that sort of thing.

And so it's been really fun to get to know all of the different managers and scientists who are part of the network and build those relationships and connections, and really establish this community across all of these different experimental sites. 

Emile Elias: Excellent. Thanks, Courtney. And you mentioned managers, I'm curious, how and why is this project important, especially for forest managers? And I wonder if you can give an example of a demonstration site or tell us a little bit about a location, kind of how this site evolved and what treatments you're using there and any of your favorite stories that might come to mind about a specific location?

Courtney Peterson: So when the Adaptive Silviculture for Climate Change network was started, as well as some of the key ideas behind the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science or NIACS framework, they did a lot of work, really interviewing managers and asking them what are some of the big challenges to really implementing climate adaptation into your management planning and on the ground actions.

And they heard several themes. And so those really were that climate change is too big and too complex. That climate information isn't relevant enough for me at this particular forest, one size fits all answers are really insufficient for what I need to do for really integrating climate change into my specific goals and objectives.

And there aren't enough real world examples or demonstrations of how we're really applying climate adaptation and to forest management. And so based on those four questions, it really led to, well, how do we start providing these great tools and examples and demonstrations and bringing this broad climate science down to the local level for managers to really incorporate into their planning.

And so the ASCC network really does help address those four questions by providing those demonstration examples of what resistance, resilience, and transition can look like in different forest ecosystems across the US and Canada that tailors regional climate science to the local level and brings together all of those different experts to provide that information on how to do so, and really makes it so that climate change isn't too big or too complex for managers on the ground.

But instead becomes a part of that climate adaptation planning process, just with this filter through this adaptive management framework. And so it really provides those tools and approaches for integrating climate change into silvicultural decision-making to meet goals and objectives. And so one of the more recent sites that we've been working with is at the Colorado State Forest on the top of Cameron Pass in Northern Colorado, and this is a high elevation Spruce-fir system. And so it's been really fun to get to go to the field with those different managers, talk about what are the values they have about those Spruce-fir forests. We just experienced some of our largest wildfires in Colorado in 2020.

And one of them was the Cameron Peak fire, which was right to the east of where that site is located. So really a lot of conversations of what do these changing fire regimes mean for these high elevation forests and starting to interact and engage with that group of people through field visits, and then talking about climate science and then coming together at that workshop.

And so that one's been fun, especially because we, as we talk more about resistance, resilience, and transition, maintaining what's currently there and a system that might not be, or as used to those high severity, large wildfires that happen every couple of hundred years and how those might change made some of those managers a little bit uncomfortable when we think about changing fire regimes and that forest type.

And how do we adapt to that? And so what, how do we maintain what's currently there to protect those values, like lynx habitat that might be there and watershed characteristics, and how do we really adapt or transition to what these changing fire regimes are going to be like in the future? And so that's been a fun project to be a part of with that group.

Sarah LeRoy: Thanks Courtney, that transitions very well into my next question. Cause you've mentioned a couple of times this resistance, resilience, and transition, these three terms. And each ASCC site utilizes one of these adaptation options. And so I was hoping you could expand a little bit on each of these approaches and what it is that they mean.

Courtney Peterson: Definitely. So these all come from Connie Millar et al. 2007 and her definitions of resistance, resilience, and response. And so that response is also what we refer to as transition. And then it's also from those NIACS definitions from the Swanston et al. 2012 and 2016 papers. And so those are the concepts that are really utilized for the ASCC network.

And so with resistance, what we're really trying to do is improve the defenses of the system against anticipated changes, or directly defend against disturbance in order to maintain relatively unchanged conditions of that ecosystem or that forest type. And so that's really our Homeland Security option, where we're really trying to maintain those characteristics or management objectives of really high value that we don't want to see really threatened into the future. So maybe there's a threatened and endangered species in that forest. We really want to make sure that there's habitat for. That could fall under a resistance adaptation option. 

With resilience, we're really thinking about accommodating some degree of change or disruption, but allowing the system to return to a similar condition after that disturbance occurs. So, this is really our rubber band analogy adaptation option, where the system is able to experience some of those disturbances, but really quickly bounce back to that prior condition.

And so with resilience actions, we're trying to improve the overall health and vigor of that forest or that ecosystem, and really manage that vegetation in that forest, following those disturbances. 

And then with transition, that other end of the spectrum where maybe we're trying something wild or crazy. This is where we're intentionally encouraging change or helping ecosystems respond in a targeted fashion to those new conditions under climate change. And so transition really is where we're bringing in some of those newer ideas. Maybe we're trying some different assisted migration strategies, whether that's fostering well adaptive native species through new genetic opportunities, or maybe we're really thinking about relocating some infrastructure that just doesn't make sense to maintain because it continues to flood in that location and wipe out that particular set of infrastructure.

So those can also be transition adaptation actions. 

Sarah LeRoy: Great, thanks Courtney. Linda. So what are some of the positive things that you've seen come out of this project in terms of helping land managers prepare for future conditions? 

Linda Nagel: Thanks Sarah, for the question. There's a lot of positive things that have come out of this project already.

Courtney mentioned that early on the NIACS group had worked with a lot of managers to better understand what their needs were and what their concerns were. And, you know, climate change is a really big topic and we are continuing to really grapple with how to think about it. But when we first started this project, you know, that was about 12 years ago.

And people were thinking about it a lot differently than we are today. So there's been a lot of change in the duration of the project so far. So one of the positive things that's happened is that people are realizing that they really can think through and incorporate climate change considerations into their decision making.

You know, working through the process of designing the different adaptation treatments along the resistance, resilience, transition spectrum brings out really creative ideas from people and it opens up minds to possibilities and options that they may have never considered before. So some really interesting and novel management is being practiced on the ground as a result of this project.

And that's a really positive thing that we're expanding our toolbox. You know, one of my favorite things about this project is that we get to see these really incredible forests and these incredible places and, in different, you know, different forest types. And we get to see them through the eyes of the managers and the scientists that are local to that area.

And especially when we get to go in person the last couple of years, we haven't been able to do these, these workshops in person but most of the time we have been able to do that. It's been incredible to go out in the field and see the forests and talk about climate change considerations and impacts. With those themes of people, the managers and the scientists and the stakeholders, and that local context is so important to this project and to, you know, bringing in these tools for them to be able to use.

So the value of their local knowledge is, is really important. And it's a driver for the work. Another positive is really around people. So when we design one of these sites, we intentionally bring together scientists, managers, practitioners, stakeholders, implementers from kind of across the spectrum in terms of how people are thinking about climate change in that particular location.

They represent a spectrum of ideas and positions about climate change and values for the forest. And as we work through the process to design one of these sites, it's been really interesting to watch how it turns out that our goals and objectives and our values are typically much more in alignment than they might have thought going into that process.

And so by the end of the time that we spend together really thinking through what does a resilient ecosystem look like? What could a transition treatment be for this forest type? We build a lot of consensus and a lot of buy-in into the process and into the work itself. And that's been a really positive outcome is just how we've been able to bring people together, to work together on a very complex issue and to better understand each other's perspectives through that process.

Sarah LeRoy: That's excellent. Thank you. I'm also curious if you've encountered any challenges along the way. 

Linda Nagel: Oh, yes. We've had some challenges. You know, any project of this scope and nature always has funding challenges or capacity challenges. And those are, those are things that have developed over time, for sure.

And they're good challenges. That means that there's, you know, demand for this work and a lot of interest in it. So Courtney and I are managing a network, which means that we're managing actually lots of different teams of people underneath the network framework. And so that's been incredibly rewarding, but it also does come with some challenges.

You know, we, we need to communicate regularly and clearly and coordinating things like data collection and, you know, processes that are really central and critical to the integrity of the network can be a challenge at the network level. The projects really gained a lot of traction and a lot of attention nationally and internationally.

So we're fielding a lot of interest in the network and lots of people would like to become part of the network. And that's, again, both great, but also challenging from the perspective of, you know, maintaining this, this network and this process. And, you know, we have developed a very deliberate process with NIACS to co-develop the study, the experiments, the questions, the data we collect. And that's really central to the work that we do. And sometimes people will come and say, well, but we have a bunch of scientists and we worked together on this research project, so we co-developed it. And we push back and say, well, that's not really the way, you know, we are managing this project.

That's a really different project because of the process that we use. And we've really held to that. And I think that's been a really positive for the network because it's a, it's a good example of how we can work together. The treatments Courtney already talked about, the spectrum of treatments can sometimes be a challenge for people to wrap their heads around.

Sometimes people are really challenged by why would we build a resistant ecosystem? We don't want that. And then the other end of the spectrum with transition, we're pushing people to really think outside the box and to consider options that they may not have considered before. And so we work through those questions and those challenges that they're having in their minds.

And it's interesting because it's a little bit different with each site. What is that point that's going to make people a little bit uncomfortable? And then finally, implementation is sometimes a challenge. It's again, different in every location. Some places have really good timber markets and they have less challenges with implementing large scale silvicultural operational work in a research setting like this, and some places, there isn't a timber market. And so it can be very expensive to implement treatments. And so we see a wide spectrum of implementation opportunities and challenges with a study that's of this scope and scale. 

Emile Elias: Thanks, Linda. And I'm actually curious about where in the country most of these demonstration projects are located, and if there are any plans to expand to other areas or possibly expand current projects. So Courtney we'll start with you. 

Courtney Peterson: Sounds great. Yep. We have sites that span the majority of the country. I'd say we have a little bit of a gap in the Pacific Southwest and Pacific Northwest, but we've had some conversations with lots of different folks in California who are interested in potential ASCC sites there.

So that is definitely a place where we're considering where there could potentially be a new experimental site. In California, somewhere. We also since this is a climate change study, we ask that when sites commit to being a part of this network, they really are looking at the long-term. And so we're, each site is really thinking about how are they going to monitor the responses of these different silvicultural treatments at least 20 years into the future.

And so all of the sites that are a part of the network are in the middle of doing that and really collecting that post-treatment data. Seeing how the forest itself is responding to those treatments with the overstory and mid-story and understory species, but also asking different questions about how is this influencing carbon sequestration, or soil health, or wildlife that rely on this different forest ecosystem for habitat.

And so there's a lot of great research each of the sites are doing individually on some of those different components, and there's a lot of room for us to continue to build and expand, ask, asking these different questions across the network between these sites that are really looking at similar ecosystem types and particular regions that can really compare and contrast their treatments for different forest species or wildlife species as well, which is really fun and exciting to think about how current sites can expand.

And then we have a workshop coming up at the beginning of December with the Driftless area, which is a series of Oak-Hickory forests in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. And so working with state lands there to really think about adaptive silviculture. And then next year, we're in the process of working with collaborators and partners on the Grand Mesa Uncompahgre Plateau, at the Taylor Park area and Lodgepole Pine forest.

And also with some state forests in Ohio that are also interested in those Oak-Hickory forest ecosystems and how they're responding to climate change and how we can think about resistance, resilience, and transition. And then we also keep getting interest from partners in the Central Hardwoods region and Kentucky, again, interested in Oak forests and climate adaptation, and then in California as well.

And so, as Linda was saying, it's really this balance of all of the great work the network is already doing and the research questions we can ask, with all of the interest and excitement people have to really start thinking about adaptation and their local forest ecosystem. 

Emile Elias: Great. Thanks Courtney. And I have a question for Linda related to this because Linda, you've been with this network from the beginning.

And so I'm curious, have you, have you ever actively recruited new locations? Or do forest managers approach you? Like how has that evolved over time and how has that been built?

Linda Nagel: That is a really great question. So back in 2008 or so when we first were coming up with the idea for this project, we spent some time brainstorming.

Well, where could we be successful, with this, you know, who could we partner with? Where would be some locations? And we originally thought, well, experimental forests are the ideal place to implement these. So that was our original focus, but it took us a while to really brainstorm, likely success places and people.

And it was a combination of it, of being the right person to approach, is there support for doing this type of work? Could it be, you know, stewarded into the future? The first five sites were really intentionally selected so that we had wide geographic distribution.

We had identified high vulnerability ecosystem types, and we had identified scientists and managers at those locations that we felt like could champion a project like this, forward. Since those first five sites, I would say that each of the sites that have come to fruition since then have been people coming to us, interested in building a site.

And so we, we spend a lot of time vetting interest from people and really talking through a lot of questions, uh, about ecosystem vulnerability, what resources are available and thinking about, does it make strategic sense for us to invest time and energy into building an adaptation experiment at that particular location?

And so, as Courtney mentioned, as she gave us sort of a whirlwind tour across the country there of our sites there is just a lot of interest in this at the, at the beginning, you know, people were excited about the idea, but also cautious and a little bit hesitant. You know, this is a big commitment to building an experiment of this nature.

And it's really changed a lot. There's just a lot of interest. Every time one of us gives a presentation, somebody raises their hand and says, but there's no star on the map in New Mexico or in, you know, Florida. And so we field those questions a lot. And then we start having that conversation about, well, what does it mean?

And this isn't the only way to really test out forest adaptation practices. This is a very, you know, intentional, robust, experimental design, but there's lots of ways to do really good forest management work that, that doesn't entail building a replicated experimental study. 

Emile Elias: Excellent. Thanks, linda and I'm going to follow on that with a question. It's a similar question that I asked of Courtney earlier. Do you have any favorite stories, or stories about any of the demonstration sites that you'd like to share? 

Linda Nagel: I don't have a specific story that I want to share, but some of our sites are really exploring assisted migration and considering both native adapted species for the future, but also novel species.

And so in some sites, you know, we're bringing in Southern seed zones, but also lots of species that are not currently on each site. And that's happening in some of our Northern tier sites in particular. We typically will look at 90 or a hundred year projections of climate. And then we're looking at multiple sources of information to consider what species might we promote on the site.

We start with what's there now. And then we, then we think about, well, what can that site support today? And then we start thinking about, well, what are the climate changes that we're anticipating? Is it drought? Is it flooding? Is it warmer temperatures? Is it earlier frost, or, you know, longer seasons or shorter seasons.

And then we consider matching silvics to the site itself. And sometimes that is very conducive to considering species that don't currently grow there, and allows us to be even more creative in how we're, you know, thinking about those future forests in the future. So timeframe and then, you know, planting, planting seedlings also has some advantages in that, it gives us an opportunity to collect information and data and response in the short term, while also tracking them in the long term. And with our first site in Northern Minnesota, we decided to plant Ponderosa Pine, which is outside its range, but not unheard of to be planted in the state. And so at the very beginning of the project, I did have a thought, well, maybe we can plant Ponderosa Pine everywhere and we can test how it does everywhere across the country.

But of course that was not really a reasonable question, but it was an interesting one to think about. And Ponderosa Pine is a part of a number of our sites because it is a good, you know, it has a wide ecological amplitude and geographic distribution. I will say that every time that we've been able to spend time in a forest, especially any significant amount of time in that forest, getting to know the trees, getting to know the forest type, getting to know the people who work and study those places is a really special opportunity for us as researchers and, you know, outreach specialists to be able to interact with people. So I can't say that I have a favorite story or you know, a special story about a place or a site development that I can share, but each one is special in its own way.

Courtney Peterson: I would also add that the species ultimately selected really come down to the risk tolerance of the managers. So we might think that there's some species that would be really cool to plant because of those climatic niches and the silvics of those species, but ultimately the managers aren't comfortable with planting that species.

And so we don't do it at that particular location. And so I think that's also something that's important is again, what is the value of planting that particular tree species and how much risk is that manager willing to accept by planting something like that with an assisted migration practice? 

Emile Elias: Yeah, I realized that was a hard question. It's like asking a grandparent, you know, who's their favorite grandchild or something. Sorry, I put you on the spot. But you did hint at where I'd like to go next, which is how you share information, how this information gets back to forest managers. So this is really a question for both of you.

We'll start with Courtney. How do you share what you learn, especially the outcomes of different treatments with forest managers?

Courtney Peterson: That's a great question. So one of the key things about the network as well is that we really do want these to be educational forests. And so we ask about the social capital that all of these sites have and the communities around them to really think about adaptation and are there surrounding community members or private landowners who would really benefit from learning about the results of the different resistance, resilience, and transition treatments.

And then how do we tap into those existing networks and relationships that each of these sites already have with their different communities to share that information? And so a lot of the sites will do tours through their treatments to really demonstrate what it looks like. Especially with the society of American Foresters.

That's been a great community and network for, really bringing people to these sites for field visits. One of our sites is in an urban flood-plain forest. And so it's right in the middle of St. Paul. And it's a place that people love to recreate and they see tons of visitors to that forest every day. And so that's a great example of how interpretive signs and really just engaging with volunteers within the community to even plant the different tree species that are a part of that site has been a great way to engage people and educate them around what we're doing. And they have done a ton of promotional videos for that site as well that I would encourage you to check out and also, you know, these are trees in an urban forest and they need volunteers. And so this last year, in that part of the country, they experienced a really terrible drought.

Like a lot of us did. And so their volunteers were hauling water out to all of their trees to make sure that they survived. So another way to engage people in the process and at that site, those are some examples at the extreme end of really getting people on the ground, planting the trees, engaged, but then also we have a website where people can go learn more at www.adaptivesilviculture.org.

We have some flyers about the different sites, and we're constantly asked to give talks and presentations between Linda and I, but then also all of the different sites for, for different conferences or events as well.

Emile Elias: Excellent. Thanks Courtney. And we'll be sure to include those websites and those resources in our episode notes for this conversation.

Linda, is there anything you'd like to add about how, how you share what you learn? 

Linda Nagel: Yeah, that was a really comprehensive overview, Courtney. This project really lends itself very well to graduate student research as well. And so we are starting to publish off of some of the sites, you know, it is long-term, you know, forest response. And so there's a variety of approaches to how we learn early from what we're doing on the ground, but then also modeling into the future. So that's starting to really come to fruition. As Courtney mentioned, we give presentations to lots of different audiences and we do that locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.

And so we're connecting with a lot of different audiences that way. And those presentations at the local meetings are really powerful and quite valuable. There's nothing that can compare to the field trips that we can do at these sites and the sort of demonstration walking through the forest and looking at different forest management activities and talking about how the management activities are meeting these experimental goals and the goals for the land manager. There is one site, the Chippewa National Forest site that's on the Cutfoot Experimental Forest that also has some signage in Ojibwe, which is the indigenous language of the local Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe.

And so that's really kind of a neat addition to how we're trying to connect with the local community where these experimental sites are implemented. And so that's my favorite type of outreach to do is when we can walk in the woods and talk about the project and what we're doing.

Sarah LeRoy: So I'd like to shift gears just slightly for these next two questions and start thinking more about the future.

And so Courtney, I'll start with you. What is your vision for the network in the next 10 or 20 years? And how would the information that you learn help forested ecosystems within the US but perhaps even outside of the US?

Courtney Peterson: I'm glad you're starting with me, cause I know Linda's vision is going to be extremely grand and way better than mine. But it would be, I think this network is just really exciting because it really is providing these on the ground tools and examples for managers for thinking about climate adaptation and to make sure we still have forests in the future under a changing climate, whether those look the same as they do now, or they look different.

And so I think really starting to test what makes the most sense, resistance, resilience, or transition and these different forest types at these different sites across the country and in Canada. And really why would a manager choose to do a transition treatment? At what point does it become really valuable to think about that instead of maintaining what's currently there or helping the system persist.

So I'm excited to see what that starts to look like and to get more buy-in and value around asking those questions across this network as well. And then it's great that it continues to expand. So hopefully we will continue to get funding so that as we continue to get requests to really expand the network and have new sites in different forest types with new partners, we have the capacity to do so.

So I think, it's great that people really want to start thinking about adaptation planning on the ground in their forest types. And so making sure that they have the capacity and the resources to be able to do that, whether it's through a on the ground demonstration site that's not a robust experiment, or through something that is like the ASCC network where we really are asking these robust experimental questions.

Sarah LeRoy: Well, I think that's an excellent vision, Courtney. So Linda, what is your vision for the network?

Linda Nagel: I would agree, I thought that was an excellent vision. I think, a mark of our success is, are we still talking about this project and this work in 20 years? So that's my hope, that's my vision is that we are continuing to have a positive impact on the forest community, across the country and beyond, you know, for at least another 20 years, because sometimes we do build things and then they wane, or they, you know, they lose their impact.

And so I think, if we're still talking about the Adaptive silviculture for Climate Change project in 20 years, that's going to be a huge mark of success. I hope that we continue providing valuable scientific information that managers are actually using to steward our lands into the future. I hope we continue to engage people in climate change adaptation and sustainability into the future.

And Courtney already mentioned this but, each of the sites is really valuable in and of itself. But in 20 years, I hope that we have demonstrated the value of the network. And we have been able to leverage the strength of having these sites that are built under this framework. And we're able to ask those cross site questions and really lead forward in the climate adaptation arena through this work that we've invested a lot of time and energy into.

So. I'm really excited for the future of this project. 

Sarah LeRoy: Thanks Linda. And I'm going to build off of that, that statement that you're very excited for the future for this last question, cause we like to end each of our episodes on a hopeful note, and I do think that this entire episode has been very hopeful and very encouraging, the project and the research that you all are doing.

But thinking about climate change impacts and climate change adaptation in forested ecosystems, what gives you hope for the future? I'll start with you, Linda. 

Linda Nagel: Yeah, that's a great question. What gives me hope is that the natural resource community is taking climate change very seriously. They're highly motivated to do something about it.

And that gives me a lot of hope. When we first started, as I mentioned, 12 or 13 years ago, we were kind of bringing this topic to the management community and, you know, basically saying this is really important. We need to figure out how to think about climate change within the management practices and decision making that you're doing.

We can't ignore it. And today people are coming to us. From all across the country, wanting to learn how to think about climate change and the management of our forests and our lands, wanting to become part of this ambitious project so that they can make a difference. And that I find really exciting and it gives me a lot of hope for the future.

Sarah LeRoy: Excellent. Courtney, what gives you hope for the future? 

Courtney Peterson: I would agree with Linda completely. I think it's really exciting to see managers just interested and really ready to start tackling climate change and incorporating it into their planning on the ground. So just the fact that we're at that point where there's that interest and excitement to consider climate adaptation is really hopeful for me that we're moving in that direction.

And also this project, one of the reasons I really wanted to be involved in it when I applied for this job was because, I think that question of what do we value about these forests and what do we want to make sure persist into the future is really crucial. And so all of the work that this network and all of the sites are doing to really ensure we have forests and ecosystems that provide those values we still want to make sure we can achieve and access. And really get those resources from and live and recreate in into the future, I think is really exciting and really important. And so just the fact that there are people and researchers and managers excited about doing that and making sure we have those forests that provide those values into the future, it gives me hope.

Sarah LeRoy: Great. Thanks Courtney. So before we wrap up, do either of you have any last thoughts you'd like to share with our listeners?

Linda Nagel: I would just like to say, thank you for giving us the opportunity to engage with you. And thanks for telling all these amazing stories through your series. This has been really fun.

And you know, this is a new opportunity for Courtney and I to talk about a project that is really, you know, important to us. So thank you. 

Sarah LeRoy: Thank you, Linda. Courtney? 

Courtney Peterson: Yes, thank you. I've listened to the Rain or Shine podcast, and so it's really exciting to be interviewed on it. And so, thanks for inviting us to talk about this project, and it's really fun to get to talk with all of you.

And we're happy to answer questions about the network. If anyone does have follow-up questions, feel free to contact us as well. 

Sarah LeRoy: Excellent thanks, Courtney, and thank you both for listening to the podcast. And thank you, especially for taking the time to share this amazing project with the listeners today. I know I learned a lot just talking with you both today, so thank you very, very much.

Emile Elias: Thanks for listening to Come Rain or Shine, podcast of the USDA Southwest Climate Hub. 

Sarah LeRoy: And the USGS Southwest CASC. If you liked this podcast, don't forget to rate or review it and subscribe for more great episodes. A special thanks to our production crew, Skye Aney and Reanna Burnett. If you want more information, have any questions for the speakers or would like to offer feedback, please reach out to us via our websites.