Ecological Needs support for Southern California Forests

Award Period
to
Award Amount
$87,232
Agency Name
USDA Forest Service
Award Number
20-CS-11050700-012
PI First Name
Carla
PI Last Name
 D'Antonio
MSI People
Area/s of Research
Climate Change Science
Ecology and Evolution
Abstract

Background

The U.S. Forest Service manages nearly 4 million acres of land in southern and coastal central California. These lands are found within the Los Padres, Angeles, San Bernardino, and Cleveland national forests. There are many resource management issues facing the southern California forests, including fire and fuels management, climate change vulnerability, cattle grazing and water extraction. The U.S. Forest Service Strategic Plan highlights the importance of fostering resilient, adaptive ecosystems and this effort includes adopting management actions aimed at reducing the effects of wildfire, climate change and non‐native species. Despite the U.S. Forest Service’s commitment to long‐term conservation of natural resources, there is a strong need for on‐the‐ground monitoring and data collection to generate knowledge regarding their condition and trajectories. Working collaboratively with the UC SANTA BARBARA, the U.S. Forest Service seeks to meet these needs, while providing valuable field training and experience to undergraduate and recent UC SANTA BARBARA graduates. In a joint effort to better serve applied ecological science needs and prepare students for careers in applied sciences, the U.S. Forest Service and UC SANTA BARBARA will enter into a cooperative agreement to enhance the province’s capacity to provide analytical and field monitoring support to the four National Forests in southern California.

Statement of Purpose

The purpose of this agreement is to document the cooperation between the parties to provide analytical and field support to the U.S. Forest Service Region 5 Ecology Program in southern California in accordance with the following provisions and the hereby incorporated Operating and Financial Plan, attached as Exhibit A.

Statement of Mutual Benefit

The U.S. FOREST SERVICE Region 5 Ecology Program mission is:

“To provide leadership and program direction that incorporates ecological science in the Agency's multiple‐scale approach to managing natural resources for sustainability and diverse human needs. To facilitate understanding, development and appropriate use of ecological principles for Agency activities such as landscape analysis and assessment, land management planning, inventory and monitoring, and project implementation.”

Most management issues in southern California are ecological in nature, including, among other things, fire and fuels management, wildlife management, climate change, ecological restoration, and the provision of ecosystem services. Despite the importance of these issues, the Regional Ecology Program does not have the capacity to collect and synthesize much needed ecological data for the southern California province. To this end, the Regional Ecology Program (REP) is entering into an agreement with UC SANTA BARBARA to enhance its capacity to provide analytical and field monitoring support to the Los Padres, Angeles, San Bernardino and Cleveland national forests in southern California. Principal benefits to the southern California national forests will include: partnership to enhance stewardship of U.S. Forest Service lands, more robust study design and statistical analysis of complex datasets, authorship of reports and studies, implementation and continued monitoring of field projects; and supervision of and logistical support to field monitoring crews. The REP has a long history of fruitful collaboration with UC campuses, and previous cost share agreements have resulted in the training of future U.S. Forest Service employees, long‐lasting partnerships that enhance stewardship of federal lands and the production of influential publications co‐written by U.S. Forest Service and UC investigators, including students, and land managers. UC SANTA BARBARA is among the top‐rated ecological research universities in the United States, and will be a high‐quality partner in collaborative projects with the U.S. Forest Service in southern California.