Celebrating Natural Resources 2020-21

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WINTER 2020 - 21 | VOL. 36


Innovative Research | Practical Applications | International Impact | Strong Collaboration

WINTER 2020 - 21 Volume 36


Making It Possible: Local Timber to State-of-the-Art Arena


Bird Barracks: U of I Researchers, Military Make Collaboration Possible

On the Cover: By Fall 2021 the new Idaho Central Credit Union arena — about 80% constructed with Idaho-sourced timber including trees from the university’s experimental forest — will be the proud home of Vandal basketball. That wouldn’t have been possible without a lot of help from partners in the forest products industry. See the full story on page 6 .



Making Education Possible: MOSS Works With Public Schools in Time of COVID-19



Investigating Hunter and Angler Needs: U of I and IDFG Partnership Highlights Possibilities


Fish and Wildlife Sciences

Multiple Agencies Tap U of I Steelhead Data

Wolf Teeth DNA Used for Population Estimates

Sawfish Research Could Lead to Protection


Forest, Rangeland and Fire Sciences

Sparking a Career

Lili Cai’s Forestry and Sustainable Products Lab Finds New Ways to Preserve Wood

Range Professor Makes Cow-Tracking Collars Affordable


Natural Resources and Society

Contamination Communication: U of I Team Assists with Silver Valley Health Risk Messages

Wildlife Smoke Carries Viable Microbes

20 Environmental Science


Letter From the Dean

26 Alumni Awards


Letter From the Advisory Board Chair

27 In Memory

24 Development Update 25 Alumni News

Director’s Corner

Environmental Science Unveils New Undergraduate Curriculum

Student Spotlight

22 Undergraduate Research


4-5 In the Headlines

28 Faculty and Staff Awards 28 New Staff

CNR’s Undergraduate Research Experience

Adele Berklund Undergraduate Research Award

Undergraduate Research Grant

Goldwater Scholar Explores Bio-Controls

29 CNR Updates





The College of Natural Resources magazine is published annually for alumni and friends of CNR. Subscription is free. The magazine is also available online in its entirety on the college’s website, uidaho.edu/cnr. Magazine Staff Dennis Becker, dean Ralph Bartholdt, editor Leigh Cooper, Kassandra Tuten, Elise Kokenge, contributing writers Brittany Harrington, CNR liaison Alan Prouty, advisory board chair CNR Alumni News University of Idaho 875 Perimeter Drive MS 1142 Moscow, ID 83844-1142 Email: cnr-alumni@uidaho.edu Design – Beth Case, U of I Creative Services Photography – U of I Photo Services. Other image credits noted on the pages where they appear.

Dear CNR alumni, colleagues and friends, et’s not go back to normal. Sure, we’re one of the strongest colleges in the country. Our students are in high demand and our faculty pull more than their weight in teaching and research. Our legacy runs deep. For more than 100 years, the College of Natural Resources has offered an education that sets our students apart. We’re all about experiential learning. And we understand that the challenges of fish and wildlife, of forest and range management, of water and the environment will not be resolved by sitting behind a computer. Employers know this. And yet if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we have to be flexible. This means maintaining our award-winning research in a socially-distanced world. It means more online education coupled with high intensity field experiences. We are learning how to meet our students and their families where they live and work. A great example is our online master’s degree in Natural Resources, which is one of the fastest growing programs at the University of Idaho. Another example is our federal series certificates in Natural Resources, which are the only online professional certificates of their kind in the country. Each and every program in the college now has some level of online programming that further distinguishes us from our peers. And while we will not remake ourselves in the image of an online college, we will, and have already, accelerated our approaches to distance learning that builds on our rich history of experiential education. There is no new normal in higher education. Programs that flourish will embrace the changing times. We welcome that challenge and the privilege of preparing students to meet an uncertain future. In these pages, we’ve shared the many ways we make that possible — from our truly unique outdoor classrooms, to our award-winning faculty and students, we make it possible in so many ways. We will continue to train students who are creative, innovative and who persevere. And we will do it better as a result of this crisis. Sincerely,

Dennis Becker, Ph.D. ’02 Dean 2 |

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daho is blessed with a number of natural resources: from majestic peaks that provide scenic beauty, whitewater that provides exhilarating float trips, to vast forests that, among many benefits, additionally provide wood for our forest products industry. The College of Natural Resources continues to be the center for research, education and development of the leaders needed to manage and resolve issues with these resources. An example of the expertise that CNR brings to help with the management of natural resources is the recent publication “The Impact of Collaboration on the Pace and Scale of Restoration in Idaho by the Policy Analysis Group.” As concerns grow over forest health, wildfire impacts and needs for wildlife and fisheries conservation, collaborative groups have formed to seek common solutions to these matters. Understanding the accomplishments and benefits of these collaboratives is important for establishing “models” to craft solutions for Idaho’s natural resource issues. The Advisory Board is here to be an advocate for the college. One of the ways we do this is with the annual University of Idaho President’s Natural Resource Tour. A specific area of natural resources is picked for a focus. Political and policy leaders in the state join university leaders along with CNR staff, faculty and students to visit locations where research or work is occurring; themes are discussed including CNR contributions. In 2021, the tour will focus on range management, highlighting work at the Rinker Rock Creek Ranch. I want to acknowledge a number of folks who transitioned off our board this year: Howard Hedrick, Tim Thomson, Bill Higgins, Mike Tewes, Charles (Chip) Corsi and Vinnie Corrao. These individuals have provided considerable leadership and contributions to the board and college for many years, and we will miss their participation. We welcomed the following new members onto the board: Robert (Bob) Furgason, retired university president of Texas A&M Corpus Christi, and Virgil Moore, retired director of Idaho Department of Fish and Game. CNR is Idaho’s natural resource college. The talented staff and faculty conduct globally renowned research and provide students with the opportunity to learn at a premier natural resource institution. The Advisory Board is pleased to partner with the faculty, staff and students to create a brighter future for the state’s natural resources. Sincerely,

Alan Prouty, M.S. ’87 Advisory Board Chair COLLEGE OF NATURAL RESOURCES



College of Natural Resources



Our faculty and students regularly make regional and national news for their research. Below are a few recent headlines.


Coeur d’Alene Press University of Idaho graduate student Matt Nelson is collaring black bears from southcentral Idaho to the Panhandle to learn how the bears use their range and whether game cameras can be used to make accurate population estimates. As part of his study, Nelson collared 36 bears and deployed game cameras in three Idaho game management units.


Idaho Statesman

U of I alums Zach Penney (Ph.D. ’13), Nez Perce; Sammy Matsaw Jr. (Ph.D. ’20), Shoshone-Bannock; and Boise State University Geologist Coyote Short, Paiute-Modoc, are Idaho-born Native Americans who dedicated their lives to science. They bring the perspectives and traditions of the Paiute-Modoc, Nez Perce and Shoshone-Bannock to academic institutions to ensure recognition of traditional Native American perspectives in science and natural resource fields.


NPR Here & Now Lisette Waits, distinguished professor of Wildlife Resources and department head of Fish and Wildlife Sciences, talked to NPR about the reintroduction of wolves into Idaho in 1995 and what has occurred since that time.

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Keep up with all the latest CNR Headlines and News. Follow us on social media @uidahocnr



Natural Resources and Society faculty Jan Eitel and Lee Vierling, and Ph.D. student Jyoti Jennewein ’20, helped form a global team of scientists and managers to compile a database tracking the movements of Arctic animals in the face of climate change.


The Idaho State Journal

U of I researchers tested water samples at Mink Creek, part of Pocatello’s drinking water system, after it was reported that livestock polluted the water by adding E. Coli. After evaluating 98 water samples using DNA testing, researchers determined that almost 60% percent of the E. Coli came from humans, 30% came from other animals and 6% was attributed to livestock.


The Guardian

An unlikely alliance of ranchers and conservationists is working to find the best way to preserve biodiversity on grassland in Oregon.




MAKING IT PO Local Timber to State-of-the-Art Arena By Sholeh Patrick, The Coeur d’Alene Press n America’s early days when a farmer needed a new barn, practically the whole town pitched in to build and raise it. This is almost like that. Fifty years ago, about the time the ASUI-Kibbie Activity Center was built, University of Idaho dreamed of a basketball arena to pair with it. But given the expense and other priorities, that wasn’t to be. Until now. If all goes as planned, by Fall 2021 a brand-spankin’ new Idaho Central Credit Union (ICCU) arena — about 80% constructed with Idaho-sourced mass timber products — will be the proud home of Vandal basketball. That wouldn’t have been possible without a whole lot of help from partners in the forest products industry, among others, to raise those beams. Glulam beams, to be specific. “What lit the fuse was shared enthusiasm among the College of Natural Resources, our president at that time, Chuck Staben, and the forest products industry about taking advantage of building with wood,” said CNR Dean Dennis Becker. “Mass timber enthusiasm was taking off and the college works with a lot of folks in that industry, so we secured a wood innovation grant from the U.S. Forest Service.” Some of those key industry partners included Idaho Forest Group’s Marc Brinkmeyer and Tom Schultz, Mark Benson with Potlatch Deltic and Jennifer Cover — CEO of WoodWorks, a nonprofit which offers technical support to make building with wood easier. “That was one goal from the outset,” said U of I’s Project Manager and Architect Guy Esser. “To partner with the Idaho forest products industry and build a structure using mass timber techniques.”

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“We wanted to use this building as a model for what can be done with mass timber. It’s also a nice tie-in with our College of Natural Resources, which is one of the top programs in the country for forestry and natural resources.” Mass timber is a term used to describe large, engineered wood products that generally involve the lamination and compression of multiple layers to create solid panels of wood. Advantages of mass timber products include resistance, a lower carbon footprint and the ability to create larger, stronger beams. Laminated timber is a mass timber product with two or more pieces glued together — called glulam, or cross laminated, which is referred to as CLT. Esser said wood products such as the glulam used for the ICCU arena can be made with smaller wood pieces, so oldgrowth trees can be spared in favor of younger ones. That makes mass timber a more environmentally sustainable option. “If we aren’t practicing in a sustainable way, we shouldn’t do it,” agrees Becker, who said part of U of I’s goal with this project is to educate students and the public about the benefits of using mass timber in both new buildings and remodels. While most of the arena is made with glulam, both entry vestibules use CLT. With its alternating layers, CLT can be two or three layers thick and much stronger than regular beams. Trees, primarily Idaho Douglas fir are part of the wood supply chain for the arena.

The term that was used is ‘a barn-raising,’ said Schultz.

Part of the “why” on this project — for the university and for the corporations involved — has to do with carbon offsets and encouraging others to build in a more environmentally sustainable way whenever possible.

Work began in July 2019 on the 62,000-square-foot basketball arena — funded mostly from private donations and named for a $10 million gift from Idaho Central Credit Union. The building is being constructed almost entirely with trees sourced in Idaho, including from the University of Idaho’s 10,000-acre experimental forest, fabricated by Idaho companies into engineered wood products. Other than some steel beams and tension rods, and a concrete floor, nearly everything else is wood.

Research has shown the solid link between harvesting timber and storing carbon, Schultz said, especially as those trees are replaced with more plantings. As each additional tree is planted, more carbon is absorbed, and forests are generally healthier when managed, resulting in less disease or decay and stronger fire-resistance. “We’re coming full circle. We are finding that there were so many values to the old ways with wood. It’s sustainable, innovative and beautiful,” Schultz said.

Esser said mass timber is an emerging technology especially here in the Northwest.

This article was abbreviated from the original version published Sept. 25, 2020.

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Trees, primarily Idaho Douglas fir, are part of the wood supply chain for the arena. Once harvested and processed into lamstock by Idaho Forest Group in Lewiston and Bennett Lumber in Princeton, Boise Cascade in Homedale and Q-B Laminators in Salmon turned it into glulam beams - some weighing as much as 8,000 pounds. Much of the product, including two layers of roof sheathing provided by PotlatchDeltic in St. Maries, has been donated to U of I by these industry partners.

A Partnership With the Idaho Forest Products Industry Gives Rise to a Structure Using Mass Timber Techniques

Randy Widman of Hoffman Construction talks with Dennis Becker, dean of the College of Natural Resources, about the installation of the glulam beams during an arena tour. The arena’s mass timber construction — using mostly Doug fir and Idaho larch — would not have been possible without contributions from Idaho timber companies.




BIRD BARRACKS U of I Researchers, Military Make Collaboration Possible

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By Leigh Cooper


The military doesn’t want an endangered species protection to thwart their ability to train troops. COURTNEY CONWAY

Professor of Wildlife Sciences


he U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) manages more than 500 installations across the continental U.S. — which may be important for certain elusive animals.

species. And of the three remaining species, the best habitat was found at less than 10 installations. Most of the best habitat occurred along the eastern seaboard and in the Southeastern U.S. with a smattering in the West.

Secretive marsh birds are the hide-and-seek champions of wetlands.

The DOD owns roughly 29 million acres of land, and a substantial portion of that land is relatively wild as a byproduct of there being limited public access to these bases.

“Biologists surveying these birds often play their distinct vocalizations in wetlands and listen for a response, because they hide so well in the vegetation,” said Courtney Conway, a wildlife biologist in the College of Natural Resources. With the disappearance of more than half of the original wetlands in the continental United States, numerous species of wetland birds — including secretive marsh birds — are struggling. Each species has specific habitat preferences, and some of their favorite marshlands overlap with DOD installations. With secretive marsh birds being so hard to spot, the DOD asked Conway to determine which of its wetlands would likely house these enigmatic creatures. “The military doesn’t want an endangered species protection to thwart their ability to train troops,” Conway said. “If they know where the birds likely are and can incorporate that information into their management plan, a DOD base can significantly reduce conflict with federal regulations.” Conway has spent much of his career helping organize a monitoring program and compiling data on secretive marsh birds, species that include bitterns, rails and gallinules. Many of these birds are considered endangered or national species of concern.

“Our primary mission is to prepare our military to defend the nation so we do a tremendous amount of training on these military bases,” said Richard Fischer, a research wildlife biologist with the Department of Defense, national coordinator for the DOD Partners in Flight Program, and ’94 U of I alumnus. “We’ve learned that if we proactively manage these endangered and threatened species, we can balance their conservation with our training needs.” The DOD takes the stewardship of these species seriously, said Fischer. This study provides the military with defensible science to support their conservation program. “When we don’t have sufficient monitoring data on imperiled species ... it could put us in a reactionary rather than proactive posture with regulatory agencies,” Fischer said. “That’s where we can start to experience impacts to our ability to train and prepare for war.”

“We still know so little about this group of birds compared to other birds,” Conway said. “They are the forgotten children of the bird world, even of just the wetland bird world.” Conway and Bryan Stevens, a U of I research scientist who earned masters’ degrees in wildlife ecology and statistics and a bachelors’ in wildlife resources at U of I, developed computer models to identify military installations that likely contain habitat for 12 species of secretive marsh birds. They based their maps on marsh bird survey data from 1999 to 2012 gathered by Conway’s monitoring program. Of the more than 500 DOD installations, five installations contained nearly all the best habitat for nine of the 12

Military installations contain habitat for many species of secretive marsh birds like this pair of Ridgway’s rails.




This is one of those rare moments when everybody wins. JIM FOUDY

Superintendent at School District 421


ince its inception 20 years ago, the mission of the University of Idaho College of Natural Resources’ McCall Outdoor Science School (MOSS) has been to transform lives and communities through research and education.

Students arrive at MOSS at the same time they would arrive at their elementary schools, but instead of hanging their coats in lockers inside a school building, they keep them on, along with boots and hats, as they hit the trails for a day of learning under the pines.

The many regional and national kudos earned by MOSS attest to its success.

Jim Foudy, School District 421 superintendent, said the collaboration, like the district’s connection with University of Idaho Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development, or Scouts, has been relatively seamless.

In the wake of the pandemic, while schools across the country considered online learning as an alternative to having kids in the classroom, MOSS put its mission statement to the test.

“There is so much synergy going on here,” Foudy said. “It’s a thousand times safer than being a latchkey kid. The MOSS instructors are well-trained, caring adults. They are professionals.”

The elementary schoolers divided into small pods and are taught a science-based curriculum by U of I College of Natural Resources graduate students, said Beth Kochevar, MOSS K-12 programs coordinator. photos in progress Beginning in September, 100 K-5 students from the “It’s working really well,” Kochevar said. “We’re working McCall-Donnelly School District began learning science closely with the district, so we have students here five at MOSS, which operates at U of I’s McCall Field days per week.” Campus located at Ponderosa State Park on the banks of Payette Lake right next to town. The district assists Although the MOSS programs are not part of the school by furnishing busing and sack lunches. district’s educational curriculum, they complement district instruction and operate on a schedule consistent The collaboration between the school district and with the McCall-Donnelly school calendar. MOSS allows students to alternate between indoor classrooms in their local elementary schools two or The program allows parents to go to work instead three days per week and outdoor instruction at MOSS of staying at home with their children because of the rest of the time. coronavirus-related school closures. Donations paid tuition for students who qualified for a free-and-reduced “Our goal was to support local families and our lunch program, and team members developed a semestercommunity with a programming option that helped long curriculum geared to outdoor learning. students have a great year academically and helped “This is one of those rare moments when everybody wins,” families get back to work,” said Gary Thompson, MOSS Foudy said. public relations and leadership director. Thanks to MOSS, children from the McCall-Donnelly area are getting plenty of fresh air – and face-to-face instruction.

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MOSS Works With Public Schools in Time of COVID-19

Making Education

POSSIBLE By Ralph Bartholdt

College of Natural Resources student Dylan Porter instructs children in an outdoor classroom.





HUNTER and ANGLER NEEDS By Elise Kokenge and Leigh Cooper

U of I and IDFG Partnership Highlights Possibilities

Top photo: When IDFG wants to know if hunters feel crowded, Kenny Wallen’s surveys help find the answer. Photo by Roger Phillips/Idaho Fish and Game

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Natural resources management and conservation are human endeavors. KENNY WALLEN

University of Idaho Human Dimensions Scientist

unning into friends during happy hour or at a barbeque can lead to memorable laughs and great stories. Running into folks in the woods while bow hunting for deer may not be as welcome. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) has fielded concerns about crowded forests and uplands from hunters for years. But a partnership between IDFG and the University of Idaho, led by human dimensions scientist Kenny Wallen, will help them tackle the problem.

IDFG Tapped Wallen to Investigate Hunting Conditions

Wallen joined U of I’s Department of Natural Resources and Society in 2019 in a position shared evenly by the university and IDFG. The agency tasked Wallen with gathering data from hunters, anglers and recreationalists about Idaho’s wildlife management. Depending on the issue he’s addressing, Wallen may be interested in everything from the type of animals hunted to people’s opinions on what makes the best hunting grounds. Together, he and IDFG integrate that information into wildlife management plans. “I have a direct line to decision-making processes at Fish and Game, so I can see my science translate to actual management,” Wallen said. State agencies and universities often work together to address local research questions, but a joint position such as Wallen’s is one of the first of its kind nationally. To fulfill the needs of IDFG, Wallen combines wildlife biology with the human sciences — psychology, sociology and behavioral science — to understand what people want from Idaho’s natural resources. “Natural resources management and conservation are human endeavors,” Wallen said. “We’re really in the business of ‘people management.’” According to Jon Rachael, IDFG’s Southwest Region supervisor who works with Wallen, the agency conducts targeted public surveys on larger issues, but it’s often hard for wildlife managers to know whether the opinions expressed are representative of the general public they serve. “Our agency serves the public by managing wildlife and fisheries, and most of our managers have specialized in fish or wildlife management,” Rachael said. “Soliciting and interpreting public opinions isn’t necessarily our expertise.” Wallen said successful “people management” relies on understanding and predicting human reactions to natural resource availability. “You’re not just convincing, let’s say, hunters. You’re convincing different stakeholder groups including legislators, agencies, civic groups and local communities,” Wallen said. “You have to understand what motivates each group and how best to collect data and frame findings for who you want to talk about or are talking to.” To address crowding during hunting season, Wallen will improve data collection on Idaho hunting. He will also tackle management plans for steelhead trout and salmon by helping to design a citizen advisory group to evaluate management plans to alleviate conflicts between anglers in the Clearwater River drainage.

IDFG has tapped Kenny Wallen to investigate hunting conditions for white-tailed deer, mule deer and elk, which bring in more revenue and hunters than other game species in Idaho. IDFG wants to know if hunters are too clustered on the landscape to the point of feeling crowded. If hunters think the presence of too many other hunters is decreasing their success, they won’t be satisfied with the hunt, which could prompt IDFG to reconsider management.

“I don’t just want to write papers,” Wallen said. “I want to see my work be used, and in this position, I’ll really get a chance to make a difference in Idaho.” COLLEGE OF NATURAL RESOURCES



Fish and Wildlife Sciences

Multiple Agencies Tap U of I Steelhead Data RESEARCHERS TAG SEA-RUN FISH THAT SPAWN IN IDAHO University of Idaho graduate student William Lubenau collects data as part of a steelhead study. Photo by Brett Bowersox

Quist’s studies are a partnership between the U of I and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, whose commission sets fishing regulations. “It’s hard to emphasize how collaborative this is,” Quist said. “We are helping them make decisions in real time using our data.” To learn about steelhead movements and survival rates, biologists capture steelhead returning from the ocean as they cross Lower Granite Dam on their way to Idaho.

niversity of Idaho researchers are helping anglers and state fishery managers learn more about steelhead to better manage a renowned fishery that has had ups and downs. Steelhead are rainbow trout native to the Pacific Northwest that hatch in small tributaries. They annually migrate more than 600 miles from Idaho’s freshwater interior to the Pacific Ocean. Once in saltwater, steelhead can travel thousands of miles and grow to tremendous size before returning a year or two later to the Idaho stream of their birth. Intrigued by the sea-run fish and its fighting ability, anglers travel to central Idaho from around the globe adding more than $8 million per year to local economies during the fishing season. “It’s an iconic fish,” said fishery biologist Michael Quist. “People come from all over 14 |

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the world to catch these fish, particularly in the Clearwater River.” Quist, a professor of fisheries management at the University of Idaho, and assistant leader of the Idaho Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, has been studying Snake and Clearwater River steelhead for several years. His research has become increasingly important as scientists throughout the West have watched the number of steelhead returning to Idaho fluctuate, sometimes dramatically. Because wild steelhead are protected as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, if caught, wild steelhead must be released, and anglers are only allowed to keep hatchery fish identified by a clipped adipose fin, Quist and his team are studying the effect of the catch and release fishery on steelhead populations. The data collected will help Idaho better manage wild fish, while allowing anglers to target hatchery steelhead.

The fish get two tags, one visible and used by anglers to report the fish if it is caught, and the other is a tiny radio tag called a PIT, passive integrated transponder, tag. PIT tags are implanted in the fish and can be detected by sensors placed at the mouths of spawning streams. They help researchers estimate how many fish reach their spawning grounds. One of the concerns is that wild steelhead, once caught and released, may not fare as well as fish that have not been caught. So far, the concern has been dispelled. “There is no indication, at least based on the data collected so far, that there is a major difference between fish that are caught and not caught in terms of survival,” Quist said. The two-year study, which wraps up in Spring 2021 this spring, will give biologists, anglers and lawmakers another layer of data to manage Idaho’s fabled steelhead fishery. “Anything we can do to provide the best available information to Idaho Fish and Game and other managers is what we need to do,” Quist said.

Keep up with Fish and Wildlife Sciences. Visit uidaho.edu/cnr/departments/fish-and-wildlife-sciences


DNA From Wolf Teeth Helps U of I Researchers Estimate Idaho Wolf Population Researchers from U of I’s College of Natural Resources are using DNA extracted from the teeth of harvested wolves to estimate the number of breeding wolf pairs in Idaho. Lisette Waits and David Ausband, faculty in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Sciences, are assisting Idaho Fish and Game to estimate the number of breeding pairs by using DNA in the teeth of young, harvested wolves to determine the number of sibling groups – which represent different packs – among the samples. Combined with remote cameras employed by Idaho Fish and Game, the work helps the state to better estimate Idaho’s wolf population.

Photo by Peter Rebholz

Using Sawfish Teeth as GPS Could Lead to Better Protection for Endangered Species Studying the teeth on the nose — or rostrum ­— of sawfish may help Jensen Hegg, an instructor and researcher at U of I’s College of Natural Resources, protect the species. The critically endangered largetooth sawfish live along the east coast of South America. The fish can migrate between the freshwater of the Amazon Basin and the saltwater of the Atlantic Ocean, but little is known about sawfish abundance, distribution or migration patterns. Hegg learned that the chemistry in their teeth reflected where the fish lived at different times. On a recent Fulbright grant, Hegg traveled to the Amazon region to collect teeth. He is analyzing samples to learn about sawfish migration and distribution, which could help tailor protections for the species.

From left: Patricia Charvet, Jens Hegg and Mariana Moro in Curitiba, Brazil holding sawfish rostrum samples from the Amazon region.




Forest, Rangeland and Fire Sciences

Sparking a Career

By Kassandra Tuten



illon Alexander spent his childhood exploring the juniper woodlands and ponderosa pine forests near his home in northern New Mexico. After graduating with a degree in fire management from the College of Natural Resources at the University of Idaho, he is building on a fascination that began in 2000. That year, the Cerro Grande Fire burned 43,000 acres of the forest surrounding Los Alamos, New Mexico. In 2011, the Las Conchas Fire burned 156,000 acres of the forest near that area. It set the record for the largest wildfire in the state’s history at the time. It was the magnitude of these events, as well as the fire suppression response, that made a lasting impression on Alexander. Combined with his love for the outdoors, an interest in a career in natural resources was sparked. “I was searching for wildfire programs that offered a bachelor’s degree in fire management and quickly stumbled upon the Fire Ecology and Management program at the University of Idaho,” he said. “I immediately knew that I had found the right place to pursue my higher education.” Alexander relocated to northern Idaho and accepted an entry-level wildland firefighting position with the Clearwater-Potlatch Timber Protective Association (C-PTPA) in the rugged backcountry of Clearwater County, near Headquarters. The mission of C-PTPA is wildfire attack on the more than 900,000 acres of industrial timberlands they protect. After working for a year, Alexander became an Idaho resident and began courses at U of I and his pursuit of a double major in the Fire Ecology and Management and Forestry programs. “I wanted to further understand the ecological role of fire and the management actions that can be effective in restoring the

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ecological health of the wildlands across North America, especially in Idaho,” said Alexander. “The University of Idaho offered me that opportunity.” Alexander became involved in forestry-related clubs and organizations at U of I, including the Student Association for Fire Ecology (SAFE) and the Society of American Foresters. He also worked at the U of I Experimental Forest as the fire program leader and, through SAFE, participated in prescribed burning trips to the long-leaf pine and palmetto forests near Orlando, Florida. “It was valuable for me to experience ignition patterns and witness fire behavior in a fuel type that is much different than I am used to working in,” he said, adding that becoming involved in clubs and organizations was one of the best decisions he ever made. When Alexander first arrived at U of I as a prospective student, Heather Heward, SAFE faculty advisor, said she knew he would make an impact on the program. “His willingness to participate in the experiences offered and to take on leadership positions to make those experiences happen has been a tremendous asset,” said Heward. “Dillon brings people together and makes it fun.” After graduation, Alexander accepted a job as the assistant fire warden with C-PTPA where he assists in fire and hazard management, administration and supervision of seasonal employees. Alexander said his Vandal experience prepared him well for his future career. “My University of Idaho education has prepared me to be successful and be able to tackle almost anything,” he said.

After graduating from U of I with a degree in fire management, Dillon Alexander accepted a job as the assistant fire warden with Clearwater-Potlatch Timber Protective Association.

Keep up with Forest, Rangeland and Fire Sciences. Visit uidaho.edu/cnr/departments/forest-rangeland-and-fire-sciences


Cai’s Forestry and Sustainable Products Lab Finds New Ways to Preserve Wood

Range Professor Makes Cow-Tracking Collars Affordable

When Lili Cai talks about preserving wood, she isn’t referring to trees.

Tracking cattle over an expansive range using GPS collars that cost $400 apiece is not feasible for ranchers or researchers who want to know where their cows forage, and for how long.

Cai is an assistant professor of the newly named Forest and Sustainable Products program in CNR’s Department of Forest, Rangeland and Fire Sciences. She and her graduate students are developing new ways to prevent lumber from rotting. In her lab at the University of Idaho, Cai and her students are extracting toxins from potato peels to treat wood products such as posts and decking used in outdoor construction. Peelings from potatoes that have sprouted or turned green contain glycoalkaloids, natural toxins that appear to kill wood-degrading fungi. Preliminary tests have shown that wood products treated with extracted potato toxins last much longer than untreated wood. In fact, the glycoalkaloids, which are biodegradable, protect lumber almost as long as wood treated with a copper and arsenic solution — the industry’s go-to preservative. “From a long-term perspective, those copper and arsenic solutions are not safe for the environment,” said Cai. “They leach into the soil and water table.” Glycoalkaloid alternatives show promise. “We may increase the concentration or purify the component,” she said. “That could increase protection.” Finding sustainable solutions to wood preservation is the goal of Cai’s lab, which is also exploring if natural food preservatives can act as a wood-treating option. “We are looking for alternatives to protect wood,” Cai said. “We are trying to find the next generation of wood preservation.”

Enter Jason Karl. As part of his research to determine how herds use their range, Karl, an associate professor of rangeland ecology at the University of Idaho, knew commercial GPS collars could bust a budget. That’s why he began building his own collars for around $40 each. With some tinkering the price may drop further, Karl said. Karl’s collars log locations of individual cattle, allowing scientists to track cow movements in relation to topography and habitat. Last summer, 320 cows were outfitted with collars in herds in Idaho and eastern Oregon, a feat that would have been financially impossible in the past. Although people have been using GPS trackers on cows for a long time, Karl said their high cost allowed only a few animals to be tracked, not an entire herd. “We wanted to know where the herd was going and how it interacts with other factors such as forage and sage grouse populations,” Karl said. Researchers and ranchers once spent a lot of time on horseback following cattle to learn grazing patterns and prevent overgrazing, said Karen Launchbaugh, professor of Rangeland Ecology and director of U of I’s Rangeland Center. “Since the beginning of time, we’d go out on horses and mark where the herds have been on a map,” Launchbaugh said. “Now, we can do it with these, and it’s been a revelation.” Karl’s collars have caught on in range research circles and his lab is providing collars to other universities.




Natural Resources and Society

Chloe Wardropper, an assistant professor of Human Dimensions of Ecosystem Management in the University of Idaho’s Department of Natural Resources and Society, is helping health agencies find new ways to construct messaging about lead contamination in the Silver Valley.



By Ralph Bartholdt

lmost 40 years after Superfund clean-up efforts began for heavy metal contamination in North Idaho’s Silver Valley, officials still worry that many residents and visitors have not gotten the message about the negative health consequences of lead toxicity.

With the help of a research team led by Chloe Wardropper, an assistant professor of Human Dimensions of Ecosystem Management in the University of Idaho’s Department of Natural Resources and Society, health agencies are finding new ways to construct messaging to better target an array of demographics. “This region of northern Idaho is affected by health disparities – on average, it has an older population and worse health outcomes are documented here,” Wardropper said. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1983 designated a 21-square-mile area around the Silver Valley’s Bunker Hill lead smelter as a Superfund site. Since then, mining companies have paid $700 million for the cleanup that included replacing soil and sod in 7,000 residential yards, capping boat launches and cleaning the nearby South Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River. But many Silver Valley residents have not taken actions to reduce health risks associated with exposure to heavy metal contamination resulting from the valley’s mining industry, Wardropper said, and new residents and visitors are often not aware of the potential hazards. Using a hands-on approach that includes door-to-door surveys in communities such as Kellogg and Pinehurst — which were most affected by contamination — Wardropper and her team are

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Keep up with Natural Resources and Society. Visit uidaho.edu/cnr/departments/natural-resources-and-society

Officials still worry that many residents and visitors have not gotten the message about the negative health consequences of lead toxicity. developing ways to better communicate health risks associated with lead contamination to residents who may not realize the threats, or don’t engage in protective behaviors such as hand washing, or avoiding contaminated areas.



he smoke from large wildfires that can be seen from space does more than lower air quality and limit visibility. Wildfire smoke also transports viable bacteria and fungi from plants, woody debris and soils.

When Leda Kobziar, a University of Idaho associate professor of wildland fire science in the College of Natural Resources, along with colleagues in Florida collected smoke samples from burning forests in Florida, they discovered that over 80% of the microbes in the smoke were viable. In samples of crown fire smoke collected in Utah with drones, researchers found 60% of microbes were viable. Kobziar and her colleagues estimated that 40 to more than 100 trillion microbes are released into the atmosphere in smoke for each hectare, about 2.5 acres, burned in low-intensity and higher-intensity, wildfire-like burns, respectively.

As part of their work, Wardropper’s fivemember team is studying signage that state and federal agencies have used for decades to relay the health dangers caused by heavy metal exposure. The team assesses how people respond to the messages — and the messenger.

“This means that larger fires would be predicted to mobilize even larger numbers of microbes,” Kobziar said.

Andy Helkey, who has spearheaded Panhandle Health’s educational efforts in the valley for more than a decade, said Wardropper’s work has helped his agency better understand regional perceptions of the area’s contamination and health dangers.

If these particles are transported to clouds they could potentially affect precipitation or even form pyrocumulus clouds over high-intensity wildfires, Kobziar said.

“It gives us an idea of where we can target the message better,” Helkey said.

Results showed that the majority of the microbes were attached to particles or clumped in groups depending on the type of materials, including plants, wood and soils, that were burned. Researchers also measured the potential for the microbes to enhance the condensation and freezing of water in the lower atmosphere by acting as ice nucleating particles.

The work shows that microbes living on — and in — plants and soils can disperse around the planet, potentially spreading pathogens or toxins or affecting the biological functioning of the places they land. Kobziar’s studies were part of a collaboration between scientists from the University of Florida, the Desert Research Institute and the Colorado School of Mines.

Dan McCracken, regional administrator for Department of Environmental Quality who spent much of his career working in the valley, said a strong mining culture and a sense of normalization in the midst of the valley’s contamination has been an impediment to changing the perception of some residents. “People have to be aware of the health risks associated with being there,” McCracken said. Wardropper’s findings could help tailor messaging in other places where contamination exists. “Working landscapes support economies, but they also create pollution,” Wardropper said. “My group is asking what kind of interventions can government and nonprofits do to communicate the health effects of pollution on human bodies?”

Leda Kobziar and a drone pilot observe as smoke samples are collected from a controlled burn. Photo by David Vuono




Environmental Science Program

DIRECTOR’S CORNER It is a tremendous honor for me to assume the helm of our campuswide Environmental Science Program. As you are wellaware, preparing the next generation of environmental scientists and decision makers is in our DNA at the University of Idaho, and the list of opportunities for Vandals to make a positive difference in environmental stewardship has never been greater. Our students are embracing the challenge. They engage in experiential learning early on through internships and seasonal work placement, many times in partnership with you — our great network of Vandal friends and alumni. They conduct research aimed at real-world problems, such as the project seen on these pages highlighting the work of senior undergraduate Hana Haakenstad to understand connections between zooplankton densities and anoxic conditions in an Inland Northwest reservoir. And they have tons of fun doing it, as I’ve seen with the trivia nights and volunteer outings organized by the Environmental Science Club. You’ll also see on these pages that our campuswide Environmental Science team of faculty, staff and students recently completed a comprehensive revision of the undergraduate curriculum. The new curriculum honors the interdisciplinary nature of the program, challenging students to explore connections among seemingly disparate topics. But it also provides new ways for students to dive deeply into their specific disciplines of interest. A new 200-level core course will get students interacting early on with professionals working in the environmental sciences. We are redoubling efforts to get students outside, observing the world and collecting primary data. Our new online Sustainability Sciences option boasts more accessibility to online coursework than ever before. And, at the suggestion of employers of our graduates, the 400-level senior capstone experience now includes the option for students to team up with a community stakeholder partner to manage a local environmental assessment project. I invite you to be part of our exciting future in environmental science at U of I. Please reach out to me at leev@uidaho.edu if you want to share ideas or be involved. Warmly, Lee Vierling

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Environmental Science Unveils New Undergraduate Curriculum


aculty from across the University of Idaho revamped the Environmental Science undergraduate curriculum for implementation starting in Fall 2021. Input from disciplinary and interdisciplinary working groups, current students, alumni and employers was used in the decision-making. Along with U of I’s land-grant mission, world-class faculty and the unparalleled outdoor laboratory that is Idaho, these changes promise to make U of I’s Environmental Science program a top destination for students across the country.

Keep up with the Environmental Science Program. Visit uidaho.edu/cnr/departments/environmental-science-program

NEW Undergraduate Curriculum  ECOLOGICAL RESTORATION  POLICY, PLANNING AND MANAGEMENT  CULTURE AND COMMUNICATION  SUSTAINABILITY SCIENCE (available online)  INTEGRATED SCIENCES (includes: minor, certificate or semester study requirement)

Hana Haakenstad samples for zooplankton as part of her research at Willow Creek Reservoir.

Student Spotlight When Hana Haakenstad devised her senior research project in Environmental Science, she wanted to make a difference. “I was looking for a topic that would keep me excited, but even more so, a mentor who would push me to do my best work,” Haakenstad said.

Students will choose from a variety of core courses that reflect the diversity of student interests across the environmental sciences. Included will be a mentored internship and a careers course designed to help students develop professional networks early in the program. Core courses will ensure students become proficient in topics relating to water, human perspectives, geospatial sciences, statistics and economics. From there, students choose from one of five new emphasis areas: Ecological Restoration; Policy, Planning and Management; Culture and Communication; Sustainability Sciences; and Integrated Sciences. As a capstone, students will choose between an independent research project or a service-learning partnership with a local stakeholder, which requires working in groups to co-manage a realworld environmental project.

When her professor, Frank Wilhelm, brought up the idea of studying how the base of the food chain is changing in Willow Creek Reservoir near Heppner, Oregon, Haakenstad jumped at the chance. With the help of a Washington Lakes Protection Association (WPLA) undergraduate scholarship, Haakenstad explored how zooplankton might migrate in response to the depletion of dissolved oxygen. Her data supports the hypothesis that filter-feeding grazers, and specifically Daphnia, are being forced to change their grazing habits as a result of decreased oxygen levels. Her findings could help scientists better understand algal blooms. Haakenstad presented her work recently to WPLA stakeholders. She is continuing to analyze data and present her work as an honors thesis before graduating in spring 2021. “This project made my year,” Haakenstad said. “It was so much fun.”





THE GENEROSITY of Donors and Organizations Make Undergraduate Research and Field Experience Possible CNR’s Undergraduate Research Experience Last year was the first year for the two-semester Undergraduate Research Experience (URE) program, with six students enrolled. This year, there are 16 students participating in the program. The URE fellowship is an important recruitment tool used to expand the diversity of undergraduates in the college. Students in the course represent every major in the college and hail from Alabama, California, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon and Washington. This expands the geographic diversity of the college’s student body, which is critical to increasing the college’s nationwide recognition and reputation. Students are exposed to a wide breadth of research taking place in the college through presentations by faculty members. Students are matched with faculty members later in the semester to work on projects that flow into the spring semester. Lane Quidas, a transfer student studying Wildlife Resources, was able to work on a project with the U of I Combustion Lab, documenting thermal conductivity of different tree species from around the world. This research will be documented in a journal article currently being drafted and could be used to help manage habitat after wildfires and predict tree mortality with hard numbers instead of relying on mathematical modeling. By being introduced to research at the freshman level, students are better prepared to work with faculty members on various research projects as sophomores, juniors and seniors. Similar undergraduate research programs at other universities are usually offered at the junior and senior level, which makes U of I’s program unique and an attraction factor for recruiting high performing high school and transfer students. Clara Abplanalp, environmental science, participated in the program as a freshman. She worked 22 |

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with the dendrochronology lab to canvas Fourth of July Pass and analyze Western larch and spruce tree rings to monitor the quality of the soil. She said this work “allows us to more effectively monitor the area in the future and prepare to recognize concerning changes.” Long-time supporters of the college, Janet Pope and the DeVlieg foundation contributed $10,000 to support this year’s group of young researchers.

Adele Berklund Undergraduate Research Award The Adele Berklund Undergraduate Research Scholar Award recognizes and fosters undergraduate research in an applied field of natural resources. Berklund awards are used to fund a variety of faculty-supervised research activities for four students. Jose Ortiz, who is earning a degree in fishery resources with a minor in aquaculture, used the award this year to support his work at the Aquaculture Research Institute (ARI) in Hagerman studying burbot. “It is an awesome experience being able to work with such a unique species, especially considering less than 20 years ago there were an estimated 50 left in the Kootenai River,” said Ortiz. In a collaborative project led by Ken Cain of the University of Idaho, burbot numbers have recovered. U of I is exploring the use of burbot for commercial aquaculture. “Aquaculture is relatively new compared to other meatproducing industries, so there is much to explore and learn,” said Ortiz. “I hope to take my passion for aquaculture into graduate school and focus on fish physiology.” Ortiz is a first-generation college student and is very close with his family in Mountain Home.

Goldwater Scholar Explores Bio-Controls Timing is everything. For Beth Hoots, how fast hungry caddisflies mature has implications for the future of nuisance plants in Lake Coeur d’Alene. The junior from West Linn, Oregon, is looking at the relationship between climate change and the maturation of an herbivorous caddisfly that can graze on Eurasian milfoil, a non-native water plant. She is collaborating with the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, which is trying to reduce the abundance of milfoil in the lake because it tangles boat propellers, reduces property values and shades out native water plants. In support of her work the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation named Hoots a 2020 Goldwater Scholar. The national scholarship program supports students interested in science, technology, engineering and math research careers. Each receives a scholarship of up to $7,500 for the 2020-21 academic year. Hoots is putting her scholarship toward her education at U of I. A dual major in ecology, conservation biology and Spanish, Hoots studied freshwater ecology with U of I limnologist Frank Wilhelm, who suggested she continue a study started by a graduating master’s student, Stephanie Estell. Estell was evaluating whether a native caddisfly (Nectopsyche albida), commonly referred to as a white miller, could serve as a biocontrol for milfoil.

Jose Ortiz studying burbot at Aquaculture Research Institute.

“I am grateful to work full-time for the university in the summers close to my family at the Hagerman Fish Culture Experiment Station,” said Ortiz.

Undergraduate Research Grant

Through Estell’s work, the team was convinced the caddisfly would eat the milfoil. But the milfoil grows quickly as the lake warms. The caddisflies, however, need much of the summer to grow big enough to eat the water plant. Hoots is testing if projected rising water temperatures will speed the caddisfly’s development. If the insect matures earlier in the year due to warmer waters, it may be more of a threat to milfoil. “Understanding the effects of climate change on aquatic ecosystems is incredibly important,” Hoots said. “And to do that, you need to really look at what I think are the most important parts of an ecosystem – the little guys.”

Andrew Nelson and Mark Coleman received the Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) fellowship supported by the National Science Foundation as part of the Center for Advanced Forestry Systems Phase III grant. The REU student will conduct a project examining ways to improve and understand seedling drought tolerance through manipulation of seedling morphology and energy budgets in collaboration with Oregon State University, Purdue University and the U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. The student will contribute to a project testing the effects of drought acclimation and cold storage treatments on seedling physiological processes including nonstructural carbohydrate allocation at the expense of seedling growth that may result in concentration of sugars that balance the greater water stress imposed by extreme drought. The REU student will gain hands-on experience conducting seedling experiments in the greenhouse and performing physiological measurements using a variety of techniques.

Beth Hoots and Ben Scofield of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s Lake Management Department look for newly-hatched caddisflies. Photo by Frank Wilhelm




What will you make possible with

YOUR GIFT? College of Natural Resources Fundraising Goals MCCALL FIELD CAMPUS Our award-winning programs and research need facilities that support this work and build capacity. • Need is $10 million by 2024 • Dining facility, teaching and learning center, six bunkhouses, electricity upgrades Mary Ellen Brewick



ary Ellen Brewick joined the CNR team as the director of development. She has worked at the University of Idaho for the past 12 years on internationalization efforts and always enjoyed collaborating with CNR. “I have learned a lot about the many things that make CNR so special, and our broad community of alumni and friends is one of those truly unique characteristics,” said Brewick. “Sharing your time, talent and treasure allows our students to achieve academic and professional excellence, enables faculty to explore innovative teaching and research projects, and unites industry and education for the benefit of all. Over the next few months, I hope to have a chance to visit with our supporters and learn more about what connects you to the College of Natural Resources and how you would like to contribute in the future.” Some of the initial projects Brewick is working on include the McCall Field Campus capital campaign to expand programming and upgrade facilities, building on our strengths in remote sensing and forest management to establish a precision forestry emphasis and increasing scholarships to benefit our students across all our programs in the college.

Let’s talk about the ways in which your gifts have shaped the university and what is most important to you in your decisions to give.

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• Scholarships and program endowments

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Thanks to the generous support of numerous individual and organizational donors and benefactors, students in the College of Natural Resources have access to more than 80 scholarships. • Kenneth E. Hungerford Scholarship Undergraduates in wildlife who show promise for innovative research • Eubanks Excellence Scholarship New out-of-state freshman with high academic achievement • Dean Dwight Jeffers Scholarship CNR undergraduates with high financial need

PRECISION FORESTRY ENDOWMENT Developing advanced solutions to ensure sustainable forest management has many benefits. • Increase revenue and productivity • Decrease costs of forest management and operations • Improve forest health

TIMBER INVESTMENT FUND This is an important project to ensure CNR can be nimble when opportunities arise and also remain financially strong. For FY21, the majority of the work will be in building out the framework and assisting with initial gifts. • This project already has the full support of several generous donors • Goal is to grow this fund, through gifts of cash and land, to $10 million over 10 to 15 years

For more information or to make a donation, contact: mebrewick@uidaho.edu 208-885-5145 uidaho.edu/giving/cnr
















Corporation............................................................. $320,306.15

Alumna/us.............................................................. $574,262.43 Donor Advised Fund........................................................ $2,500 Faculty/Staff...................................................................... $6,505



Family Foundation....................................................... $457,392 Former Faculty/Staff........................................................ $1,930 Foundation........................................................................ $81,753 Friend........................................................................ $245,994.18 Memorial Donor................................................................ $2,685


Organization............................................................. $184,710.42

1977 $188,165

Parent of Current Student............................................. $4,060 Parent of Former Student............................................. $15,180 Retired Faculty/Staff.............................................. $34,725.53

ALUMNI NEWS Guy McPherson (B.S. Forest Resources ’82) was selected as the latest recipient of the Jazz for Peace Honorary Ambassador Award. McPherson also received CNR’s Mid-Career Alumni Achievement Award in 2005. Jazz for Peace was founded by pianist Rick DellaRatta in 2002. McPherson joins an esteemed group of four previous honorees: United States Congressional Representative Dennis Kucinich, renowned consumer-rights advocate Ralph Nader, American historian Howard Zinn (deceased) and the first Chinese mayor in the United States, Jean Quan of Oakland, California. Nancy Chaney (M.S. Environmental Science ’02) has been selected by the president of the American Psychological Association to serve on that organization’s new 12-member Task Force on Climate Change. This year she was also awarded honorary diplomate status by the American Veterinary Epidemiology Society for her work to improve the well-being of people, animals and the environment through science-based principles of One Health. In addition to her master’s degree from U of I, Chaney is a registered nurse and co-owner of a veterinary specialty business with her veterinarian spouse. As former mayor of Moscow and president of the Association of Idaho Cities, Chaney is a vocal advocate for policies that improve human, animal and environmental health and enable collaboration among experts in related disciplines.

Peter Soeth (B.S. Resource Recreation and Tourism ’93) won the University of Idaho’s 2020 Jim Lyle Award for his two decades of service and leadership in the Alumni Association and his dedication to his alma mater through loyal volunteerism. He served two terms as a member of the University of Idaho Alumni Board where he showed his leadership as treasurer, vice president and president. Peter is the public affairs specialist at Bureau of Reclamation in Denver. Deb Page-Dumroese (Ph.D. Natural Resources ’88) and Kas Dumroese (M.S. Natural Resources ’87, Ph.D. ’96) were both recently promoted to senior scientist one of the highest positions in the Forest Service. They are one of few couples to have received this honor. Brenda Lackey (Ph.D. Natural Resources ’02) is the recipient of the 2020 NAI Award of Distinction from the National Association for Interpretation (NAI). Lackey is the associate dean for academic affairs and professor of human dimensions of natural resource management for the College of Natural Resources at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Lackey began her career as a park ranger with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The NAI Award of Distinction is presented to members who have distinctly or significantly furthered the mission and vision of NAI. COLLEGE OF NATURAL RESOURCES




ALUMNI AWARDS ALUMNI ACHIEVEMENT AWARD Niko Balkenhol, Ph.D. ’09, is a professor of wildlife management at the University of Goettingen. Originally from Germany, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin. Balkenhol says his time in Idaho was key to his professional success.

CNR MID-CAREER ALUMNI ACHIEVEMENT AWARD Morgan Varner, B.S. ’97, works as the director of fire research and senior scientist at Tall Timbers Research Station. Varner has published more than 100 papers and book chapters and led the Forest Service’s Fire and Environmental Research Applications team in Seattle, Washington, for three years.

HONOR ASSOCIATE ALUMNI AWARD Walter Dunn served as the program manager of the Collaborative Forest Restoration Program and the Southwest Ecological Restoration Institutes for the U.S. Forest Service for eight years. Prior to that, he served on the U.S. Delegation to the International Tropical Timber Organization with the United Nations.

HONOR ALUMNI AWARD Kathryn Roeder, B.S. ’82, is a professor of statistics and data science at Carnegie Mellon University. Currently, her work focuses on statistical genomics and the genetic basis of complex disease. In 2019, she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. John Takekawa, M.S. ’83, worked for 33 years as a supervisory federal research biologist in the Department of Interior leading studies on wetlands and water birds. He founded the San Francisco Bay Estuary Field Station in the Bay Area in California in 1995.

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! Attend events, update your info, share your successes with us and invest in our students’ futures.

CHECK OUT OUR NEW HOME for alumni and friends: uidaho.edu/cnr/alumni-and-friends UPDATE YOUR INFORMATION GET INVOLVED GIVE TO THE COLLEGE

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Greg Brown, Ph.D. ‘92, launched his career at the University of Idaho, where he earned his Ph.D. from the College of Natural Resources. He joined the Natural Resources Management and Environmental Sciences Department at California Polytechnic State University in 2016, after serving in academic leadership positions at several institutions. He was named one of the world’s most impactful scientific researchers by Clarivate Analytics.

INTERNATIONAL ALUMNI ACHIEVEMENT AWARD José Courrau, M.S. ’95, Ph.D. ’02, began his career in the National Park Service of Costa Rica as a protected area manager and is a Costa Rican biodiversity conservation expert. He works for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature in the Regional Office for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

BRIDGE BUILDER AWARD Dusty Perkins is a biology faculty at the College of Western Idaho, teaching courses for biology and natural resources programs. Perkins coordinates student outreach, undergraduate research and internship opportunities, connecting students to academic and professional opportunities involving science, conservation and community.

CELEBRATING NATURAL RESOURCES AWARD Jeanne Higgins, B.S. ’88, serves as the forest supervisor for the Idaho Panhandle National Forests in Coeur d’Alene. Higgins also served as a deputy regional forester for the Southwestern Region and as an associate deputy chief for the National Forest Systems in the Forest Service headquarters in Washington, D.C.


IN MEMORY Paul Jerome Anders, 58, (Ph.D. Natural Resources ‘01) passed away Jan. 25, 2020 at University of Washington Medical Center. Anders finished his master’s in biology at Eastern Washington University and worked for Idaho Fish and Game and the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho in Bonners Ferry. At the University of Idaho in the early 2000’s, Anders earned his Ph.D. in Natural Resources, studying genetics and conservation of white sturgeon and also working as the first scientist jointly appointed by the U of I Aquaculture Research Institute and the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. He was active in the College of Natural Resources until his passing. Gregory G. Brown, 61, (Ph.D. Natural Resources ’92) passed away on Jan. 2, 2020 in California. Brown will be remembered as a terrific leader, mentor and teacher. At California Polytechnic State University, Brown was chair and department head of Natural Resource Management and Environmental Sciences (201620). During an academic career spanning three decades, Brown published multiple seminal works and is the most published author in the field of public participation geographic information system methods for assessing the values and preferences of local communities to guide natural resource management. James W. De Pree, 77, (B.S. Forest Resources ’65) passed away Jan. 31, 2020, in Coronado, California. De Pree graduated summa cum laude from the University of Idaho in Moscow in 1965 with a double major in forestry and business and was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. He received his commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force Reserve upon graduation. He later attended the University of Utah, studying meteorology. De Pree worked for the Sea Ranch Association on the California coast with the Wilderness Society, for the Timber Growers of Northern California, and as a natural resources policy specialist for Siskiyou County, California, until he retired in 2007. He was also a registered professional forester — a certification that he cherished. Russell T. Graham, 71, (M.S. Natural Resources ’77, Ph.D. Natural Resources ’81) died, Aug. 29, 2020, in Spokane, Washington. Graham knew early in his life that he wanted to be a forester and started working for the Forest Service in Sundance, Utah, in 1965. He received his bachelor’s degree in forestry in 1972 from the University of Montana and started working for the Forest Service in Darby. While in the Forest Service, he completed classes at the University of Idaho and Washington State University to earn a master’s degree. In 1975, he was offered a research scientist position at the Forest Science’s lab in Moscow. In 1982, he completed a Ph.D. at the at U of I and began a highly successful research career. He published more than 200 research papers and wrote chapters in a variety of books. Kenneth E. Harrison, 84, (B.S. Wildlife Management ’59) died in Meeker, Colorado, on July 27, 2020. Harrison graduated from the University of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology and was the first in his family to achieve that accomplishment. He

served in the United States Army and was stationed in South Korea as a radio communications operator. Harrison went to work for the Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Shoshone and spent the next 34 years at several mid- and high-level positions, retiring in 1995 as the State of Utah deputy director for the BLM. Joe T. Helle, 87, (B.S. Range Management ’54, M.S. Natural Resource ’60) passed away in Dillon, Montana, on Oct. 8, 2019. Helle transferred to the University of Idaho College of Forestry where he was the outstanding senior of 1954, the president of the Associated Foresters and was inducted into Xi Sigma Pi. Upon graduation from U of I with a degree in range science, he began his career with the Forest Service in Montana on the Vigilante Experimental Range, Beaverhead National Forest. After serving in the Army, Helle completed his master’s thesis on a grazing study in Point Springs. Helle was actively involved in the Montana Woolgrowers, serving as president from 1988-90, and in the Western Range Association where he also served as director and second vice president. Gregory William Lynch, 74, (B.S. Wildlife Resources ’74) passed away in Florida following a short illness. He served in the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Following his time in the Air Force, he pursued his interest in the outdoors by studying for a bachelor’s degree in wildlife and fisheries at the University of Idaho. Lynch went on to attain a master’s degree in wildlife biology from Texas A&M University. He served his country as part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for three years and as part of the U.S. Forest Service for 28 years before retiring in 2008. Mary Grunewald McGown, 70, (Ph.D. Natural Resources ’91) died on Feb. 29, 2020. Mary graduated from the University of Northern Colorado in 1978 with a bachelor of science in biology. McGown received her master’s in landscape architecture from the University of Colorado at Denver. She decided to pursue her Ph.D. in forest, wildlife and range management at the University of Idaho while raising her firstborn, Erin. Erin spent much of her first year in Moscow. Shortly after her second daughter Brenna’s birth, McGown finished her Ph.D. Brenna would go on to get her degree from CNR as well. McGown worked for the landscape architecture firm Beck and Baird, the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, the City of Boise, Idaho Rivers United and the Idaho Department of Water Resources, where she retired as the state floodplain coordinator in 2013. Arthur Ed Stauber, 86, (B.S. Forest Resources ’59) passed away on July 22, 2019, in Montana. After graduating from Pocatello High School in 1951, he attended Idaho State College in Pocatello and later enlisted in the United States Army in 1954. In 1959, he returned to college at the University of Idaho to earn his bachelor of science in forestry. Upon graduation, Stauber worked for the U.S. Forest Service in Cascade. He later joined the sales team in agriculture, working for Ralston Purina and then Farr Better Feeds.







Kerri Vierling Tricia Maxey Lee Vierling received the 2020 University Distinguished Professor Award, which is the highest award bestowed upon faculty at the University of Idaho.

Administrative Financial Specialist

National Awards Ken Cain

2020 American Ornithological Society Elective Member – Kerri Vierling

University Awards 2020 Excellence in Research and Creative Activity Award – Ken Cain 2020 Presidential Mid-Career Faculty Award – Karla Eitel 2020 Teaching Excellence Award – Teresa Cohn 2020 Excellence in Interdisciplinary and Collaborative Efforts Award – Jason Karl and Karen Launchbaugh Karla Eitel

Kaella Thompson Administrative Assistant II

2020 University of Idaho Employee of the Year Award – Betsy Delph 2020 University of Idaho Outstanding Team of the Year Award – Jon Patton and the employees at the U of I-McCall Field Campus

Professional Awards 2020 Charles E. Harris Professional Wildlife Award – Lisette Waits 2020 ICTWS Best Poster by a Professional – Dorah Mtui

Morgan Feeney Program Coordinator

Teresa Cohn

Jason Karl 28 | WINTER 2020 - 21

Karen Launchbaugh

Betsy Delph

Lisette Waits

Dorah Mtui


CNR UPDATES DEVELOPMENT OF ONLINE FEDERAL CERTIFICATES For years, CNR programs have supported many seasonal and permanent federal employees looking for career advancement through continuing education. Commonly known as the “Federal Series,” the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) identifies requirements and certifies qualification standards for federal employees so individuals can achieve their personal aspirations as they serve the American people. To support these individuals, CNR has developed a new program called Federal Series Online, that offers online instruction to help current federal employees meet the OPM qualification standards. CNR is working to formalize these programs into professional undergraduate certificates, with a new certificate in Natural Resource Management designed to meet GS-401 qualifications available in the fall 2021 semester.

LAND MANAGEMENT AT MICA CREEK The Mica Creek Experimental Watershed covers approximately 6,700 acres of forestland that is intensively managed for timber production and aquatic resource conservation by PotlatchDeltic. The experimental site has been in operation since 1990 to help scientists and stakeholders. The Mica Creek Project is a unique and significant scientific resource because it is the only comprehensive, large-scale, long-term project in the U.S. focused on identifying the effects of contemporary forest practices. The project is now supported by the State of Idaho and is the only private-state-university partnership of its kind directly focused on sustaining the long-term ecological and economic health of communities that depend on working forestlands.

POLICY ANALYSIS GROUP The Policy Analysis Group has been actively generating and disseminating information relevant to current resource topics through periodic reports and issue briefs. The latest study

identifies increases in planning efficiency and scale of restoration projects on Idaho’s National Forests attributable to collaborative decision-making. This report can be found on the Policy Analysis Group page of the CNR website.

ADAPTING TO ONLINE AND OUTDOOR TEACHING Due to COVID-19, the University of Idaho required online teaching to be the required mode of course delivery after Spring Break. This change created considerable uncertainty and stress for students, staff and faculty as the college had to transition very rapidly while maintaining its high level of teaching quality. The college was successful in this transition, not only in converting lecture courses into an online delivery format, but also in implementing innovative online teaching methods to instruct students in laboratory and field courses that are traditionally interactive, hands-on learning experiences. Faculty used technology in creative ways to ensure they met student needs. The increase in fall enrollment is a testament to our spring efforts. The college will continue to provide a high-quality learning environment by implementing robust safety measures as we navigate the ongoing pandemic.

DIGITIZING THE SCHOOL FOREST This summer, as part of a larger statewide effort, the U of I Experimental Forest (UIEF) acquired LIDAR imagery that will revolutionize management of the working forest, as well as instructional activities on the UIEF. Laser Imaging, Detection And Ranging, or LIDAR, is a remote sensing method that measures distances by illuminating the target with laser light and measuring the reflection with a sensor on satellites, fixed-wing aircraft, or unmanned aerial systems. Differences in laser return times and wavelengths are used to create high resolution, digital 3-D representations of the target – in this case the vegetation and topography of the UIEF. It is anticipated that this new data resource will improve stand inventory, silviculture and forest planning efforts, as well as the numerous faculty and student research projects on the forest.




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Maskquatch hitches a ride with University of Idaho President C. Scott Green during a mask-wearing campaign on campus.

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