RFFI Forestry Tech Joaquin Quintana measures tree diameter for inventory
California High School Forestry Challenge Comes to Usal Redwood Forest
The Redwood Forest Foundation and the Usal Redwood Forest Company have been long-time fans of the Forestry Challenge, just as the Challenge’s Executive Director Diane Dealy Neill has been an admirer of RFFI’s work in the forest. The Forestry Challenge event is an academic competition for California High School students interested in the field of forestry. In essence, the classroom is brought to the forest and providing “boots-on-the-ground” education and experiences of Forest Ecology and Forest Management.
The daunting conditions presented by Covid 19 and disastrous wildfires in 2020, eliminated forest location choices for the 2020 Challenge. As a consequence, Diane had her own challenge, how to continue the Forestry Challenge program and still provide opportunities to students from their own locations. Diane reached out to Linwood Gill, Chief Forester and Jeff Houser, Forest Operations Manager. Together they worked out a solution- the “first-ever” virtual Forestry Challenge event in RFFI’s 50,000-acre Usal Redwood Forest! Neill tells us, “This is a location we could not have visited during in-person events so we’re going to take this opportunity to give students a forest experience without actually traveling to this forest.” Diane and Jeff, along with Linwood Gill, Forest Techs Joaquin Quintana and Travis Munoz, as well as, Able Forestry crew developed the material that poses real-life management scenarios for this year’s participants. Jeff Houser is leading the Challenge effort for URFC. Approximately 100 teams have signed up involving little over 80 High Schools stretching from Southern California to Northern California. Each team will review recent cruise data and outputs from Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS), and recommend one of the provided 13 action plans to restore Mixed Hardwood Conifer stands that best satisfies the 5 pre-defined goals. The 2020 Virtual Forestry Challenge includes:
- 5 one-week competition sessions, with Session 1 starting on Saturday, October 31, and Session 5 ending on Saturday, December 12, 2020. Each team has access to the study materials at the start of their session. On the following Saturday of each session, each team provides a 15-minute powerpoint presentation that describes:
- The current stand condition of Usal Forest, and more specifically, the “Mixed Hardwood Conifer Stands”.
- The options for treatment (13-action plans) and
- Recommended “action plan” management treatment for the next 60 years, based on FVS outputs.
- During each week’s session, students review the provided material which includes Inventory Stand summaries (e.g. basal area, trees, scribner volume, CO2e, and fire behavior values), with opportunities to reach out to Diane, and, time allocated to “Ask a Forester”.
- Forestry Challenge Competition has two parts, which each part scored separately:
- The team test is worth 40%, and
- Presentation is worth 60% of total score.
- Volunteers will judge each Team’s presentations.
- Each Team’s Test and Presentation scores will be totaled.
- A Virtual Awards Ceremony will be held on Saturday, December 19 at 11 a.m. to announce the winning teams, as well as to give out special awards.
- The winning team will present their findings to the RFFI Board.
Travis Munoz, RFFI Forestry Tech, gathering data for 2020 Virtual Forestry Challenge
URFC foresters Linwood Gill and Jeff Houser talk with Diane Dealey Neill during a recent site visit to Usal Redwood Forest.
Eric Taft, Forester with James Able Forestry helped put together forest measurements for students in 2020 Forestry Challenge