Research Awards and Grants (Spring/Summer 2019)

April

 

The Sustainability-Productivity Tradeoff: Water Supply Vulnerabilities and Adaptation Opportunities in California’s Coupled Agricultural and Energy Sectors

PI: Kern, Jordan

Direct Sponsor: UNC – Chapel Hill

Amount Awarded: $97,834

Abstract: The electrical grid in California is changing quickly, driven primarily by aggressive state supported targets that aim to produce 50% of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030, with this percentage likely to increase even more by 2050. This will entail substantial changes to the state’s current generating portfolio, which relies predominately on a combination of natural gas and hydropower. Today, when drought impacts California, the state experiences a significant decrease in hydropower production. Utilities are forced to replace this lost hydropower with more expensive generation from natural gas plants, which increases the wholesale price of electricity. In this project, Dr. Kern will model the operations of California’s power system, including its interactions with important import markets in the Pacific Northwest and Southwest, under a wide range of future scenarios, while tracking system behavior and wholesale and retail price dynamics. The operations of California’s grid will be simulated using a multi-area “Unit Commitment/Economic Dispatch” (UC/ED) model that captures power flows among the major California utilities and neighboring systems. This class of model is used by electric power utilities and researchers alike, to schedule generation in networks of power plants and study the behavior of power systems under different market, policy and environmental conditions.

 

Tahoe Central-Sierra Initiative Restoration Assessment – Forest Restoration Simulation Modeling Project

PI:  Scheller, Robert

Direct Sponsor: The Nature Conservancy

Amount Awarded: $99,729

Abstract: This program of work is focused on completing the simulation models for each alternative scenario developed with the broader TCSI science and management team. This project will apply the LANDIS-II forest simulation modeling platform and build upon ongoing efforts to utilize landscape-scale modeling to investigate restoration strategies within the forests of the Lake Tahoe Basin.

 

Economic Impact Study of Organized Camping in North Carolina

PI: Knollenberg, Whitney

Direct Sponsor: North Carolina Youth Camp Association

Amount Awarded: $25,979

Abstract: Organized camping is an important contribution to the outdoor economy across the state of North Carolina. The North Carolina Youth Camp Association has requested a study of the impacts of this industry in the state of North Carolina, including three geographic regions, and for counties that contain multiple camps. This study will utilize survey data collected from camp directors, camp staff, and camp families to provide analysis of the economic impact of organized camping at the state, regional, and county level as well as an understanding of the industry’s social and environmental impacts.

 

Health Matters: Improving Physical Activity among African-American and Low-Income Residents of Edgecombe Country

PI: Hardison-Moody, Anne

Direct Sponsor: NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)

Amount Awarded: $70,000

Abstract: To increase physical activity among African Americans and low-income residents in Edgecombe County, NC State and Edgecombe County Cooperative Extension will 1) increase the number and promotion of shared use policies in community organizations, 2) connect and promote vital physical activity resources through wayfinding and signage, 3) improve connectivity between places people live, learn, work, play and pray through walking and recreation space audits, 4) support and promote walking and biking to and during school, and 5) partner with Recreation Resources Service (RRS), to create and implement a county park and recreation master plan.

 

Evaluating the Promise and Potential Impacts of R3 Efforts Targeting College Students

PI:  Larson, Lincoln

Direct Sponsor:  US Fish and Wildlife Service

Amount Awarded: $107,621

Abstract: Declining hunting participation negatively impacts state and federal agencies’ ability to achieve wildlife management objectives and generate revenue for conservation activities. The decline is driven, in large part, by decreasing numbers of young adult hunters. Our study will focus on one particularly promising audience – college students – in an attempt to reverse these declines. We will addressing NCN #9 by identifying opportunities for recruiting new hunters as well as retaining or reactivating individuals with previous hunting experience. To accomplish this, we will work with multiple state agencies and public universities in two-phased project. First, we will survey diverse undergraduate students at participating universities to assess their hunting-related perceptions and behaviors and highlight potential R3 programming and outreach opportunities targeting specific subgroups. Second, we will utilize this information to develop, implement, and evaluate R3 workshops for college students without (or with very little) previous hunting experience. Our goal is to reveal best practices for cultivating and sustaining positive perceptions of and participation in hunting across different geographical and cultural contexts. Results shared via a Practitioner’s Guide (with suggested R3 Program Outline), academic publications/presentation, and workshops will help agency professionals, educators, and researchers understand and connect with young adult audiences. 

 

Impact of Youth Corps Partnerships on Partner Capacity

PI: Edwards, Michael

Direct Sponsor: Montana Conservation Corps

Amount Awarded:  $10,785

Abstract: Working in a partnership model, conservation corps provide land management agencies with resources that support youth development and community engagement, a dependable workforce that balances high quality work with reduced agency costs, and ensure the enhanced ability of public land agencies to sustainably provide for conservation and visitor recreation. Relevant to the evaluation, the primary long-term impact associated with these program activities ensures resource institutions, managers, and industries have the long-term capacity to sustainably manage natural resource assets. Conservation corps work with public land agency partners at multiple levels. However, most of this work occurs on federal and state lands. Two important partners for conservation corps are the USFS at the federal level and respective State Parks at the state level. This evaluation will focus on the ability of participating corps to enhance the capacity of these two organizations. The overall aim of the current evaluation is to examine the outcomes of corps program on partners. The primary outcome-related goal is to determine, through a matched, quasi-experimental design, whether there is evidence that host partners demonstrate higher levels of engagement, efficiency, and environmental stewardship than similar, non-hosting affiliates. The primary research questions of this evaluation are: Using partner interviews and surveys, this evaluation will address the following research questions: Does hosting a conservation corps program increase public land agency partners’ capacity to: Engage youth and communities? Manage organizational resources more efficiently? More effectively manage public lands for conservation and visitor recreation?

 

May

 

Breeding Bird Response to Wildfire in the Southern Appalachians Across a Burn-Severity Gradient

PI: Moorman, Christopher

Direct Sponsor: US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service

Amount Awarded: $5,622

Abstract: Populations of many disturbance-dependent breeding bird species are in decline, in part because availability of open-canopied, young forest has decreased. Earlier research indicated that breeding bird abundance and species richness in the southern Appalachian region increases dramatically after high-severity burns due to an influx of species associated with the increase in open-canopied forest. In western montane forests, bird response to mixed-severity fire is a complex interaction between pre-fire conditions, burn severity, and time since fire, yet less is known about these relationships in eastern US forests. Unprecedented wildfires throughout the southern Appalachians during fall, 2016 provide a unique opportunity to study breeding bird response across a range of fire severities in upland hardwood forest. Our research will test the hypothesis that disturbance-dependent bird species occurrence, and overall breeding bird abundance will increase with burn severity. This research has important, applied implications for breeding bird conservation and forest management.

 

Increasing Ecological Complexity and Resilience of Southern Appalachian Mixed-Oak Forests via Disturbance-Based Management

PI: Forrester, Jodi

Direct Sponsor: US Department of Agriculture (USDA) – National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Amount Awarded: $470,000

Abstract: Significant changes to the historical disturbance complex have altered ecological function in many Southern Appalachian forested ecosystems. To maintain oak and hickory and perpetuate the forest types that have been ecologically and economically important to the region, it is necessary to seek alternative management approaches that will restore species, structural, and functional complexity to the Appalachian region. We are proposing to evaluate oak regeneration under traditional silvicultural systems and use these results to guide the design of an alternative expanding-gap approach; to initiate baseline sampling imperative in the long-term evaluation of the expanding-gap approach; and use stand- and landscape-scale simulations to test the degree to which a gap-based, silvicultural approach will increase: 1) oak regeneration, 2) structural complexity and species diversity; and 3) carbon sequestration and storage. Specifically we will evaluate the capacity for alternative hardwood management practices to increase the regeneration of oak and hickory within the Southern Appalachian mixed oak forest. We will assess the interactions among forest structure, composition, regeneration and ecosystem processes and integrate our empirical research into a spatially-explicit landscape model to simulate multiple scenarios of management, disturbance, and climate interactions. With strong support from local and regional forestry professionals and non-government organizations, our team of University and Forest Service scientists will ensure that the results will reach managers and resource professionals. We specifically address AFRI Program Area D, Priority 1 with the goals of advancing our understanding of processes and interactions and assessing and developing new management practices to improve ecosystem services.

 

Management Options for Herbicide Resistant Weeds in Christmas Tree Production

PI: Neal, Joseph

Direct Sponsor: Christmas Tree Promotion Board

Amount Awarded: $41,629

Abstract: Herbicide resistant weeds have become widespread and problematic in nearly all cropping systems including Christmas tree production fields. In 2018, researchers at North Carolina State University evaluated alternative treatments for glyphosate-tolerant weed species in Fraser fir production fields. Cloransulam-methyl suppressed “escaped” horseweed with little to no injury to Fraser fir trees. However, reliance on this one ALS-inhibitor (Group 2) herbicide has a high probability of selection for weeds with resistance to multiple modes of action. Thus, additional research is needed to identify ways to effectively use herbicides with other modes of action. Additionally, research is needed to define effective treatments for other herbicide tolerant weeds, specifically lambsquarters, pigweeds and ragweed. Experiments will be conducted to evaluate the safety of preemergence and postemergence herbicides for control of horseweed, lambsquarters, pigweed and ragweed, as well as product safety to Fraser fir trees, treated before and after bud-break. Researchers will also evaluate the impacts of experimental treatments on white clover ground cover. A living ground cover dominated by white clover has been shown to reduce erosion, suppress summer annual weeds, and to contribute organic nitrogen for enhanced tree growth. Results from these trials will be used to reduce the impact of herbicide resistant weeds in Christmas tree production and to provide guidance for product registration efforts (such as the USDA IR-4 program). Developing strategies for herbicide resistant weed control in living mulch systems will also enhance the sustainability of Christmas tree production.

 

Enhancing Cultural Resource Adaptation Planning in Dynamic Environments and Assessing Sediment Budget Research and Information Needs at Gulf Islands National Seashore

PI: Seekamp, Erin

Direct Sponsor: US Geology Survey (USGS)

Amount Awarded: $49,163

Abstract: Barrier islands are subject to natural and anthropogenic changes, such as hurricanes, sea level rise and dredging. These changes can influence the persistence of natural and cultural resources. For example, a single storm event can drastically alter barrier islands, damaging or destroying cultural resources and impacting (either negatively or positively) habitat. Moreover, dredging can change the natural rates of lateral sand transport and placement of dredge materials can also influence natural rates of lateral sand transport, both of which can have positive (sand accretion) or negative (sand erosion). These changes to barrier islands can also influence the ability of the islands’ dunes to serve as a first-line of defense for the mainland during storm-events. A better understanding of sediment budgets related to coastal vulnerability (storm events and dredging) can enhance the protection of both natural and cultural resources and guide future nourishment and placement of dredge materials. This work will support the conservation stewardship mission of the National Park Service by providing science to inform management of its natural and cultural resources at Gulf Islands National Seashore. Specifically, this project will contribute to ongoing research at Gulf Islands National Seashore related to cultural resource adaptation planning, as well as identify future research and information needs to better conserve the cultural and natural resources on the barrier islands. The project will include (a) updating a planning exercise framework designed to assist the National Park Service optimize cultural resource adaptation planning given a range of budget constraints and (b) conducting a sediment budget needs assessment workshop with National Park Service personnel and other regional stakeholders, such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Intended outcomes from the project include enhancing efficiency in adaptation planning of vulnerable coastal resources and identifying research priorities that will help predict changes of barrier islands and reducing the negative impacts associated improperly placed dredge materials.

 

Forest Health Retrospective: A National Evaluation of Insect and Disease Extent and Impact

PI: Potter, Kevin

Direct Sponsor: US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service

Amount Awarded: $25,000

Abstract: The USDA Forest Service, via the Southern Research Station, is providing an additional $25,000 to complete an additional set of objectives for the project “Forest Health Retrospective: A National Evaluation of Insect and Disease and Impact.” To achieve these objectives, the existing 24-month project would need to be extended by an additional 12 months. The new objectives would be to: (1) Develop methods for forest health indicators used in United States national forest sustainability reporting, specifically the Montreal Process Criteria and Indicators, which focus on forest ecosystem health and vitality (Criterion 3, Indicators 3a and 3b). (2) Produce associated outputs (maps, summary data tables) for depicting effects of biotic and abiotic agents on forests.

 

Ecosystem Model Comparison at Multiple Scales and Sites

PI: Scheller, Robert

Direct Sponsor: Portland State University

Amount Awarded: $14,781

Abstract: Objective: Ensuring the long-term sustainability of eastern US forests in the face of climate variability and change will require forest managers to have the best available climate change research at their fingertips to make sound management decisions. Ecosystem process models now allow realistic projections of future forest conditions in response to anticipated climate, natural disturbance, forest management, and their interactions that can inform forest management decisions. However, there is no single scale which is perfectly suited to addressing all climate change and management related questions. Critical patterns which emerge at fine-scales may be over-averaged at larger scales and vice-versa. Our objectives are to a) compare model outcomes from two modeling frameworks against empirical data and to each other, b) examine climate change, disturbance, and management interactions at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, translate these procedures, and prepare a roadmap for deployment across other forested military installations. Technology Description: We propose a two-stage approach for integrating climate, disturbance, and management projections at multiple scales. First, we will calibrate and compare each of two models, an individual-tree scale model (SORTIE-PPA) and a landscape-scale model (LANDIS-II with Century), against empirical data collected from two pine-dominated sites in the eastern US. Second, we will apply both models against the Ft. Bragg ecosystem in central North Carolina under multiple projections of climate change. We will assess the strengths and weakness of each model and their respective capacity to accurately project a suite of ecosystem processes, including succession, disturbance and nutrient cycling, given current and potential management practices and anticipated climate change. We will work closely with Ft. Bragg to prepare both models for operational use via an iterative process that identifies goals and scenarios, data needs, and desired outputs. Both models will be delivered to Ft. Bragg fully parameterized and prepared for subsequent use, including full documentation and access to the open-source code for each model. Expected Benefits: Successful demonstration and validation of the proposed ecosystem process models will help decision-makers integrate a multitude of management strategies into the context of the military mission and installation-specific natural resources management plans. Forest managers will be able to use either SORTIE-PPA or LANDIS-II to estimate the effects of different management practices on the local installations over varying time horizons and spatial scale resolutions. Upon completion, this technology can be applied immediately at Fort Bragg’s more than 89,000 acres of longleaf pine forests and at other DoD installations with forested habitats.

 

EmPOWERing Mountain Food Systems: Cultivating a Profitable Local Food Industry Cluster through Entrepreneurial and Business Support, Infrastructure Development, Training, Leadership Development and Capacity Building

PI: Lauffer, Laura

Direct Sponsor: Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)

Amount Awarded: $1,100,000

Abstract: This project will develop a comprehensive model program for developing an industry cluster around local foods focused on entrepreneurship, business development, job creation and workforce development, training, providing career ladder opportunities, and growing community leadership for lasting change. This work will be focused in the 7 county “foodshed” region of the Southwestern Commission (Region A Council of Governments), which includes North Carolina’s most distressed counties. and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI).This comprehensive model will build on work that has already occurred in the 7 county region and through grant funding to the Southwestern Commission from the NC Rural Center, through a nascent regional local food advisory council that included participants representing food banks, funders, public health and health organizations, NC Commerce, agriculture organizations (including USDA, NCDA, and Cooperative Extension), academic institutions (Western Carolina and the three community colleges in the regions), the faith based community, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and the Southwestern Commission, and through many of the other partners we are engaging who work in the food systems sector. The work also builds on the expertise and experience of over 24 years of statewide work of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS), a partnership of NC State University, NC A&T State University, and the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. CEFS is excited to bring lessons learned and best practices from a comprehensive list of relevant projects (www.cefs.ncsu.edu) to develop this industry cluster with community partners, and together boost the economy of western NC. This project overlaps with four of the five strategic investment goals of the five-year ARC strategic plan including providing economic opportunities, workforce development, leveraging the region’s natural assets, and building capacity and skills for long lasting change. This project also overlaps with the goal of providing critical infrastructure needed to build a sustainable regional local food economy. The region recognized the opportunity for economic development based in local food systems, as has the Appalachian Regional Commission, which hosted a forum in Asheville NC in 2012 titled “Growing Appalachian Food Economy”, and funded various food systems and entrepreneurship projects in North Carolina over the last five years, including five in food systems since 2013 for a total investment of $310,000, and four in entrepreneurship training since 2013 for a total investment of $430,000. This project aligns fully with three of the four investment priorities of the POWER initiative, including: building a competitive workforce, fostering entrepreneurial activities, and developing industry clusters. What is unique about this effort is the opportunity to develop an industry cluster through implementing many disparate food systems projects in one target area (vs scattered statewide) as a comprehensive model that can be transferable to other coal-impacted areas in the nation. The opportunity to do a ‘deep-dive’ in this region with ready and willing partners and all of our collective assets makes for a compelling opportunity to build on existing momentum and significantly improve the region’s economy.

 

National Recreation and Park Association Parks Build Community Evaluation

PI:  Hipp, James

Direct Sponsor: National Recreation and Park Association

Amount Awarded: $125,000

Abstract: Each year, associated with the annual National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) Annual Meeting, NRPA redevelops a park in a low-income neighborhood located in the host city. NRPA wishes to evaluate this redevelopment, or Parks Build, beginning with the 2019 conference located in Baltimore, MD. The evaluation will assess pre and post redevelopment of the park and surrounding community with a focus on use of park, park-based physical activity, sense of community, economic development near the park, and sense of safety. This project will work specifically with the Parks Build in Baltimore with a four-year follow-up. A secondary purpose of this project is to establish evaluation metrics with park redevelopment that can be used across the US.

 

Coastal Plain Aquifer Vulnerability to Extreme Storms and Implications for Rural Prosperity, Food Security, and Water Resource Resiliency

PI: Nichols, Elizabeth

Direct Sponsor:  US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) – National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Amount Awarded: $200,000

Abstract: This ERG proposal is time-sensitive to coastal North Carolina communities that were flooded by Hurricane Florence and whose livelihoods depend upon safe and reliable groundwater. Rural, eastern NC communities rely almost entirely (97%) on aquifers for drinking water, crop irrigation, food processing, and industry. There is little information about the water quality of these coastal aquifers and even less understanding of how extreme hydrologic events, such as Hurricane Florence, impact them. We estimate there are ~ 300,000 private well users, equal or more livestock/crop irrigation wells, and hundreds of permitted water supply wells in the eleven counties that were extensively flooded by Hurricane Florence. Experts estimate slow-moving hurricanes will increase in frequency for Atlantic and Gulf coasts. The risk of surficial, near-surface, and deep aquifer contamination is uncertain for these extreme storm events. We will pilot an innovative dual-tracer strategy using tritium and 3H3He groundwater tracers with non-targeted, suspect-screening high-resolution mass spectrometry (NTSS-HRMS) to assess young water intrusion to groundwater. Our first goal is to establish comprehensive organic chemical fingerprints of aquifers in flooded and non-flooded areas of the Coastal Plain. Our second goal is to use these fingerprints, with tritium and tritium/helium, to evaluate changes to organic chemical fingerprints in wells flooded by Florence and to advance our understanding of young water flux to confined aquifers. This project is high-risk because ~90% of organic chemical features in HRMS analyses are not identifiable although mass to charge spectral features are determined. State of the art database workflows will help tentative identification (suspect screening HRMS) of these unknown chemical features. Just as the LCMS analyses of surface waters revolutionized our understanding of pervasive pharmaceuticals and personal care products in the 1990s, this ERG research may likewise revolutionize our understanding of organic chemical episomes in coastal aquifers. This project will advance regional water quality data for chemicals of concern and potentially contribute new tracer chemicals or chemical features to improve our understanding of aquifer connectivity, modern water flux to groundwater, and groundwater vulnerability to extreme storms.

 

Project BRIDGE: 100 Soil Tests Near Flooded Homes in Robeson County

PI: Cutts, Bethany

Direct Sponsor: Foundation for the Carolinas (FFTC)

Amount Awarded: $40,000

Abstract: Funds will be used to collect and process the soil samples, and pay the research team. Data collection and analysis will take place between March and December 2019. We will quantify soil quality to understand the distribution of E. coli, heavy metals, and other common contaminants in rural residential soils. The protocol will include (1) an intake questionnaire (to measure housing decisions, self-efficacy and behavioral intention), (2) field data measurements of heavy metals (arsenic, lead, mercury, and selenium, as well as aluminum, barium, boron, and chlorine), petroleum hydrocarbons, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons characteristics, fecal coliform bacteria, (3) a results communication meeting, and a post-results debriefing (to measure changes in self-efficacy and behavioral intention). The research team and interview staff will process E. coli sample and test for the presence/absence of chicken and pig-specific genetic markers. We will send soil to a qualified lab for heavy metal testing. Data collection will follow Cutts’ previous project focused on soil contaminant concentrations (e.g. Cutts et al. 2017, London et al. 2017, Schwarz et al. 2016, Cutts et al. 2016). A data management plan including human subject’s approval, data security, and public access is already in place through NC State.

 

Forecasting Landscape Change Across the Southern Appalachians

PI: Scheller, Robert

Direct Sponsor: US Forest Service

Amount Awarded: $28,371

Abstract: In collaboration with the USFS Southern Research Station, we will conduct research on changing landscape trajectories for the forests of the southern Appalachian ecoregion, including the forests of North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky. There are many threats to long-term forest health across this region including insect outbreaks and climate change. There are also many opportunities for innovative and forward-thinking management interventions including broad-scale application of prescribed fires, variable gap size silviculture, extirpated tree reintroduction, e.g., American chestnut, and facilitated migration. Given the magnitude of uncertainty generated by these multiple and interacting drivers of change, forecasts must be inclusive of all processes. We will work with the USFS to provide state-of-the-art simulation models that incorporate climate, disturbances, and management into long-term (50 years+) projections of forest change.

June

 

Evaluation of Habitat Improvement Projects

PI: Edwards, Michael

Direct Sponsor: Colorado Youth Corps Association (CYCA)

Amount Awarded: $4,821

Abstract: Multiple studies exist on the impact of environmental corps programs on participants (e.g., Duerden, et al., 2013; Education Northwest, 2013). Each evaluation provided strong evidence for the impact of the corps experience on participants’ community engagement, environmental engagement, teamwork, leadership, communication skills and grit. Emerging research demonstrates the efficacy of conservation work to provide broader social, health, and economic benefits. The primary relevant conservation activities conducted by corps are improvements to public lands and trail stewardship. Research suggests links between land improvement activities like those conducted by corps and many long-term community and ecosystem impacts. Improving public parks and habitats is associated with increased ecosystem services, improved biodiversity, and environmental health (Benayas et al., 2009; Suding, 2011). Controlling invasive species has major financial implications for many economic sectors (Pimentel, et al., 2005) and can also positively impact outdoor recreational activities (Eiswerth, et al., 2005; Julia, et al., 2007). Conservation activities can ensure that publicly accessible ecosystems remain healthy in light of high human contact (Alessa et al., 2003). Numerous studies have also indicated how poorly constructed trails negatively influence the quality of recreation experiences and decrease visitation (Roggenbuck, et al., 1993; Vaske, et al., 1993). When trails are built and maintained properly, they have the potential to produce direct economic benefits through visitor expenditures on equipment, food, transportation, and lodging (Moore, et al., 1994).  Relevant to the evaluation, there are two primary long-term impacts associated with corps activities. First, improving public parks and habitats promotes ecosystem health. While measuring the long-term impact of these activities lie outside the scope of a program evaluation, key antecedent mechanisms will be evaluated as program outputs and outcomes. Primary performance measures that will guide the evaluation plan will be taken from the National Performance Measures Instructions (Environmental Stewardship Focus Area) Addendum document published by CNCS, item EN5: Number of acres of national parks, state parks, city parks, county parks, or other public and tribal lands that are improved. Based on preliminary work with NC State University, conservation corps, the Corps Network, and land management partners; the primary research question addressed in this evaluation is: were developed to guide the outcome evaluation: Do projects focused on improving and restoring habitats improve visually assessed habitat quality? To address these challenges and provide rigorous evaluation of corps programs, a collaboration between The Corps Network, member organizations of the Public Lands Service Coalition (PLSC), and North Carolina State University (NCSU), developed standardized measures of habitat improvement projects on public and private lands. Management goals identified through interviews and surveys with partner agencies and corps directed measurement selection. Specifically, this evaluation focused on improving ecosystem health and visitor experience through six objectives: Encouraging or improving habitat for native plants; encouraging or improving habitat for native animals; discouraging or removing invasive plants from habitats; discouraging or removing invasive animals from habitats; reducing forest fuels to mitigate wildfire risk and severity; and restoring or creating habitat. This evaluation explores types and amounts of activities contributing to each of the objectives, as well as detailed data focused specifically on invasive plant species management and the reduction of forest fuels, as they were the most common project types among participating corps. Review of the literature from land management agencies (e.g., U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. National Park Service) and peer-reviewed journals. 

 

Ensuring Agricultural Sustainability and Climate Resiliency through Intergenerational Transfer of K-12 Voices (Fellowship, Danielle Lawson)

PI: Stevenson, Kathryn

Direct Sponsor: US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) – National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Amount Awarded: $165,000

Abstract: Although research has noted the widespread impacts of climate change on agro-ecological systems, unfortunately, farmers represent some of the most climate skeptical groups of individuals, with upwards of 88% denying the contributions of humans of modern day climate change. Fortunately however, research has found that children, including agricultural high school students appear to be better at coming to a point of con-census on climate change, unlike their adult counterparts. As such, this NIFA postdoctoral fellowship application proposes an integrated project that aligns with the AFRI Farm Bill Priority Area of bioenergy, natural resources, and environmental with the overall goal of leveraging the unique climate change views of agriculture high school students to increase the climate concern and willingness to implement climate resilient agriculture behaviors of their parents, through intergenerational transfer. To do this, 36 North Carolina high school agriculture teachers will be trained in the Project Learning Tree module, Southeastern Forests and Climate Change, and experimentally test the curriculum’s effects on a minimum of 1800 students and 540 parents. To accomplish this, preservice agricultural teachers and environmental educators at North Carolina State University will be engaged through a robust service learning project giving them hands-on experience with teaching in agricultural classrooms and social science research methods. This project contributes to the post-doctoral program area of producing new scientists, and the overall AFRI goal of promoting the sustainability of agricultural ecosystems.

 

Plasma treatment for inactivation of bacteria and bacterial biofilm on conveyor belt surfaces

PI: Salvi, Deepti

Direct Sponsor: Ohio State University

Amount Awarded: $55,000

Abstract: Not available 

 

Valorization of Industrial Hemp

PI: Lucia, Lucian

Direct Sponsor: GenoVerde Biosciences, Inc

Amount Awarded: $6,000

Abstract:  We will harvest industrial hemp at selected farming sites and employ a variety of techniques to extract oils and fibers to deliver the most value to the NC farmer. We will work with farmers, provide them with the results of our 3 month studies, and disseminate all results widely through reports, NCSU web sites, memos, and public forums (conferences, publications, seminars). As a result of our 3-month project, the NC farmer will have a better idea of how to maximize the value of their crop.

 

Forest Health Monitoring, Analysis, and Assessment

PI: Conkling, Barbara

Direct Sponsor: US Forest Service

Amount Awarded: $293,512

Abstract:  The Forest Health Monitoring (FHM) Program is a long term, national monitoring and research effort focusing on forest ecosystems. This interagency program is designed to assist resource managers and policy makers in managing forest resources in the United States, allocating funds for research and development, and evaluating the effectiveness of environmental policies. FHM national reporting efforts include an annual technical report that presents analysis and synthesis of technical information at national and multi-state levels as well as other publications that provide information about national forest health conditions and management priorities. Through the work in this agreement, the principal investigators and other research personnel will provide the Forest Health Monitoring Research Team of the USFS Southern Research Station’s Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center (EFETAC) with data analyses, natural resource assessments, and technical writing skills in support of the national Forest Health Monitoring Program’s annual forest health status and trends report, and other research, analysis, and reporting tasks. The principal investigators and other personnel will also provide support to the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Program in documentation development and updates for field procedures and the FIA public database.

 

Economic Analysis of Forestland Enrolled in Conservation Reserve Program in Mississippi

PI: Nepal, Prakash

Direct Sponsor: Conservation Biology Institute

Amount Awarded: $53,289

Abstract: A precise information on the expected net economic returns of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) tree acres would not only aid in CRP decision making associated with the forestland conservation, but it will also help forest landowners in making more informed decision about alternative uses of their land. To this end, the proposed economic analysis aims to estimate expected net return to managing forestland acres enrolled in CRP conditional on the range of species (e.g. pines or bottomland hardwoods), management regime (e.g., even ages or uneven aged), management objective (e.g., timber production or maintaining wildlife habitat or carbon sequestration), and site characteristics in the region (e.g., low, medium or high site quality), and conduct sensitivity analysis to reflect uncertainty in future market conditions (e.g., changes in timber and pulpwood prices, changes in discount rates etc.).

 

Innovations in the Theory and Application of Models for Human and Natural Caused Disturbances in Forests

PI: Sills, Erin

Direct Sponsor: US Forest Service

Amount Awarded: $100,000

Abstract: Existing expertise in disturbances in forests has improved our understanding, modeling, and forecasting of the future conditions and use of both US and global forests. These disturbances vary by region across the US, and by ecoregion globally, and include wildfire, harvesting, land use change, insect and disease outbreaks, and others. We focus on the first two of these disturbances because of the synergies known to exist between harvesting and wildfire in both the U.S. and Brazil. This will require cooperation of investigators from NCSU (Dr. Erin Sills and a postdoctoral scholar) and USFS Research and Development (Drs. Karen Abt and Jeffrey Prestemon). This research will focus on (1) the impact of harvesting and wildfires on forest conditions, and the relationships between markets for timber and responses to forest disturbances, and (2) how climate and policy influence the expenditures made to prepare for and respond to forest disturbances, focusing on wildfire.

 

North American, European, and Global Forest Product Market Projections to Evaluate Economic, Demographic, and Biophysical Change

PI: Abt, Robert

Direct Sponsor: US Forest Service

Amount Awarded: $110,000

Abstract: The primary objective of the proposed study is to understand the direct effects of sea level rise on markets for forest products in the United States, and through that, global markets and forest conditions nationwide.

 

Measuring the Impact of Community Engagement Strategies with GRCVB Stakeholders

PI: Knollenberg, Whitney

Direct Sponsor: Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau

Amount Awarded: $18,810

Abstract: The community engagement strategies (CES) the GRCVB plans to employ have the potential to increase community stakeholders’ awareness of the organization and its benefits. This could also lead to community stakeholders being stronger advocates for tourism in Wake County. However, the magnitude of the impact that the CES could have is not known. Through in-depth interviews with Wake County tourism stakeholders this study will determine the degree to which CES increase awareness of the GRCVB and its benefits among community stakeholders as well as their intentions to advocate for tourism in Wake County.

 

Location Aware Approach to Creating Effective Public Outreach

PI: Pala, Okan

Direct Sponsor: NC Department of Transportation

Amount Awarded: $229,360

Abstract: NCDOT enhances its ability to establish relationships, credibility and consensus throughout the course of the transportation decision-making process by using a variety of methods to engage the public. Organizing and implementing public hearings, while effective, falls short on involving all stakeholder groups who would be affected by the implemented project. The way that the public is engaged, informs and invites the section of public that lives nearby and would have the most perceived short and medium term adverse effects from the project implementation. Whereas the section of public using the project corridor to transit and would have the most perceived medium and long term benefit, is not effectively engaged. We propose to value-add existing public outreach strategies by augmenting them with spatial analysis tools, state of the art targeted information dissemination techniques, and a user friendly spatial public engagement portal. Innovative approaches need to be developed and implemented to engage all affected and benefiting sections of public during all phases of project development and delivery. Initiating this process before the early project planning stage would allow appropriate project alterations without adding extraneous financial burdens and project delays. The first aim of this project is to create task specific spatial analysis tools that will allow NCDOT staff identify adversely affected, as well as benefiting, stakeholders. Using this information, this project also aims to create effective public outreach campaigns using a Spatial Public Engagement Portal (SPEP), and social media pipelines while putting our best effort forward to respect stakeholder’s privacy. We will then collaborate with NCDOT staff to transfer our knowledge, findings, and spatial analysis tools as well as the SPEP platform.