California Assessment of Wood Biomass and Markets

Assessment of wood biomass and markets? What the what? The title of this project sure is a mouthful but an important project to restore our National Forests. Fundamentally the project asks the question how can we better utilize wood from small diameter trees being thinned in California. To back up a step, thinning and prescribed fire are applied to California’s National Forests to decrease the threat of mega fires.

Inyo National Forest
Photo by jocookfisher

In the past two years multiple fires burned hundreds of thousands of acres in the Sierra and Cascades alone: 98,000 acres on the King Fire (Eldorado National Forest), 257,000 acres on the Rim Fire (Stanislaus National Forest) and 134,000 acres on the Happy Camp Complex (Klamath National Forest). Many of these fires burned out of control for months because the forest had not had fire in many years, creating hazardous fuel conditions. Coupled with drought and windy weather, mega fires threatened water supplies, wildlife and communities.

Rim Fire
Photo by Mike McMillan - USFS

To correct this problem forest treatments are implemented in a way that creates gaps for species “dining room” habitat but keeps dense forest cover for “bedroom” habitat. In areas where listed species such as spotted owl and fisher require dense canopy and old growth conditions, forests are not treated. These areas are still threatened by and do burn in large wildfires, making the treatment of adjacent forests that much more important. Treatments can be done by hand, machine and with prescribed fire. Recent studies show that controlled burns may be the only way to treat some areas due to rugged terrain.

What is done with all of the wood after hand and machine thinning? Some trees are sent to mills but smaller diameter trees and slash (tree branches, needles) sometimes burns in place, at a tremendous loss of carbon and energy. Nearby biomass plants use the wood to produce heat and power. Combined heat and power plants are particularly valuable in rural communities where energy can be expensive and wood supplies plentiful.

Woody biomass
Photo courtesy of Oregon Department of Forestry

With new technology air pollution issues have greatly decreased, but permitting and total cost can be prohibitive. It’s important to note that mega fires create immense amounts of pollution, sometimes on the order of millions of cars operating annually on highways. Wood can also be utilized for fence posts or poles or used to strengthen other materials.

The biomass assessment will examine which technologies are most ready to expand in California markets to take advantage of these surplus wood supplies and help provide income and/or jobs to rural communities in the process. The hope is to spur the restoration of Sierra forests while providing income and opportunities for local communities. If done in a way that benefits humans, species and communities, all will contribute to a healthy ecosystem more resilient to future climate change.


New Study Shows Importance of Washington’s National Forests for the Economy

We know that biking, hiking, skiing, climbing and trail running are great activities for our physical and spiritual health – but a new study shows these activities are also good for the Pacific Northwest’s economic health!

Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Photo by Keri Sprenger

Investing in PNW National Forests and other public lands is a smart financial move, illustrates the Economic Analysis of Outdoor Recreation in Washington State, prepared by Earth Economics for the Washington Recreation and Conservation Office. The first comprehensive analysis of Washington’s outdoor recreation economy, the study shows outdoor recreation to be one of the cornerstones of the state's fiscal health, providing approximately 200,000 jobs and contributing $21.6 billion dollars in economic benefit.

The analysis shows the importance of National Forests to Washington, which generated $535,494 in economic benefit in 2014, more than any other federal lands in Washington. The study also demonstrates how important outdoor recreation is to rural counties, transferring economic benefits from urban centers to communities bordering on popular outdoor recreation destinations.

Olympic National Forest
Photo courtesy of Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation

As the majority of outdoor recreation opportunities are on publicly owned lands like National Forests, the study helps make the case for supporting and investing in keeping them healthy and making sure the public recreation infrastructure is maintained and improved. Read more about the study here.

Support your National Forests here.


Top Eleven #Instagreat Moments on the White River National Forest

Forest Service volunteer Priscilla Williams features some of the spectacular locations on the White River National Forest, home to the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.

Attention millennials, here is the blog you have been waiting for, a guide to the most #instagreat locations on the White River National Forest. Prepare to dazzle your followers with historic, scenic, breathtaking and just plain awesome locations.

You will be sure to gain a lot of “outdoor cred” with this list of must have photo ops and have a few incredible experiences along the way. The White River National Forest is all yours to discover, explore and capture on Instagram.

The FIS Alpine World Ski Championships

Care to snap a selfie with a world champion of downhill ski racing? You can do that on the White River National Forest in February. The event is free and the #grams are priceless.

World Cup Event
Photo courtesy of Beaver Creek Resort


Mount Sopris in the Elk Mountains

Located near Carbondale Colorado, Mount Sopris stands majestically as a centerpiece of the Elk Mountain Range. The elevation of Mount Sopris is just 496 feet shy of 13,000 feet. What a beauty!

Mount Sopris
Photo courtesy of U.S. Forest Service


The Top of Imperial Chair

Rising to 12,840 feet the Imperial Express is the highest chairlift in North America. Don’t forget your oxygen tank and seriously warm clothes. 

Imperial Chair
Photo by Jack Affleck courtesy of Breckenridge Resort


The Crystal River Valley 

Everyone loves pictures of animals, so amp up the cute factor by taking your furry friend on a fishing adventure up the Crystal River ; make sure you stop for a photo op in this scenic and historic river valley. In the fall, the colors are worth an ogle or two.

Crystal River Valley
Photo by Connor Coleman


Mount of the Holy Cross at 14,005 feet

Illicit “ohhs and ahhs” from your followers with this picture of you being extreme after summiting a Colorado 14eener. At 14,005 feet Mount of the Holy Cross is seriously playing it big and it’s all yours to summit!(Please make sure you have some experience in summiting peaks over 14,000 feet before attempting this dousie.)

Mount of the Holy Cross
Photo by Priscilla Williams


Bubble Lake in the Gore Range 

For the truly adventurous and backcountry savvy, we recommend this beautiful turquoise glacial lake in the Gore Range as a key photo op. Don’t forget to pack it in pack it out because this is a pristine wilderness!

Bubble Lake
Photo by Priscilla Williams


Piney Lake in the Eagles Nest Wilderness

This is the perfect place to get a candid pic of a moose while shooting a #selfie with a fantastic backdrop of Mount Powell and Knee Knocker Pass. We encourage long-distance pictures of moose, but please do not go in for a close-up.

Piney Lake
Photo by Kate Jerman


Windows Deck at Vail Resorts 

Stop for lunch and a photo op after a few runs on the White River Forest. That gnarly peak in the background is Mount of the Holy Cross, a photo-worthy backdrop. This one will get you points among the locals. #peaksonpeaksonpeaks

Windows Deck
Photo by Priscillia Williams


The Maroon Bells

We had to include this gem on our list. This is a postcard or holiday card just waiting to happen with you smack-dab in the middle of it. Your friends from the East Coast will be jealous. This is the most photographed mountain range in Colorado and it’s calling your name, feel free to do many cliché photo poses here with friends and family.

Maroon Bells


Camp Hale

Impress your savant friends with clever and strikingly beautiful historical and intellectual pic of Camp Hale. The area is known for being a training site for the 10th Mountain Division ski troops of WWII with ties to the skiing industry in the U.S. The National Forest Foundation has selected Camp Hale as a Treasured Landscapes restoration site . The NFF has worked with citizens, organizations and local leaders to create a shared vision for this historically and ecologically significant place. 

Camp Hale
Photo by Steven C. DeWitt, Jr.


Trappers Lake in the Flat Tops Wilderness 

Known as the birthplace of wilderness, Trappers Lake holds a sense of place to all of us. The jaw-dropping setting also gives you goose-bumps and melts your nature-loving heart simultaneously. #wilderness

Flat Tops Wilderness


Fifteen National Forest Waterfalls Not to Miss

Across our National Forests, waterfalls offer the pefect destination after a short of long hike. 

Did we miss any of your favorite waterfalls on National Forests? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook.

Morgan Falls – Chequemegon-Nicolet National Forest, Wisconsin

Less than two hours from Duluth, Minnesota and near Cables, Wisconsin, Morgan Falls can be accessed less than a mile from the trailhead. The trail to the 70 foot high falls is graveled with low grade slopes. Hikers can continue up the trail for about a mile to reach the overlook at St. Peter’s Dome.

Morgan Falls

More info


Crabtree Falls – George Washington National Forest, Virginia

East of I-81 off the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Crabtree Falls Day Use Area features a moderate 2.7 mile trail with scenic views of five cascades. The trail also includes overlooks of the surrounding valley. 

Crabtree Falls

More info


Cascade Falls – Jefferson National Forest, Virginia 

Just thirty minutes from Blacksburg, Virgina, Cascade Falls lives up to its name with a 66-foot drop. The Cascades Day Use Area includes a 4-mile scenic loop trail to the falls with a natural pool ideal for swimming as well as numerous picnic spots.

Cascade Falls

  More info


Falls of Lana – Green Mountain National Forest, Vermont

Hop on the Aunt Jenny Trail near the shores of Lake Dunmore to see the Falls of Lana. The falls appear to come from the rocks and then meander down 35 feet. Continue along the Aunt Jenny Trail to Rattlesnake Cliff for a view of Silver Lake and Lake Sunmore.

Falls of Lana

More info


Salt Creek Falls – Willamette National Forest, Oregon

Less than 90 minutes from Eugene, Oregon, Salt Creek Falls are the second highest in the state. Just a short 50 yards down the trail is a viewing platform. For the best view, continue about half-way down to the base of the falls.

Salt Creek Falls
(photo by Chris Martin)

More info


Falls of Hills Creek – Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia

About an hour from Lewisburg, West Virginia, the Falls of Hills Creek contains three waterfalls. The lower falls at 63 feet are the second highest in West Virginia. As you make your way on the Highland Scenic Highway, make time for a quick stop for some breathtaking forest scenery.

Upper Falls
(photo by Geoff Gallice)

More info


Stewarts Cascade – Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Utah

Head just past Sundance Resort near Provo, Utah and make your way to Stewart Falls. A moderately strenuous trail, the mile and a half route takes you up nearly 900 feet. You can get up close and personal to the 200 foot drop of water. You’ll often see other hikers cooling off with the glacial water!

Stewarts Falls

More info


Sturtevant Falls – Angeles National Forest, California

Just outside of Los Angeles, California, Sturtevant Falls offers the perfect day trip from the city. The 3.25 mile trail to the falls will take you down into the forest and pass a group of historic cabins and various stream crossings. Once at the falls, take a dip in the pool to cool off before you hike back out.

Sturtevant Falls
(photo by Ken Shoufer)

More info


Multnomah Falls – Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Oregon

Less than thirty miles from Portland, Oregon, Multnomah Falls might be the most well known and most visited waterfall on our National Forests. After a short 1.2 mile hike, you’ll come upon a towering cascade of 611 feet of roaring water.

Multnomah Falls
(photo by John Tregoning) 

More info


Fish Creek Falls – Routt National Forest, Colorado

Just outside of Steamboat Springs, Fish Creek Falls is the perfect quick does of nature outside of town. Perfect for families, the short one-mile trail features great views of the 283-foot falls.

Fish Creek Falls

More info


Looking Glass Falls – Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina 

Mere steps from the road, Looking Glass Falls includes a viewing area as well as swimming below. Less than an hour from Asheville, North Carolina, the picturesque falls cascade 60 feet to the pool below.

Looking Glass Falls
(photo by Jeff Clark)

More info


Holland Falls – Flathead National Forest, Montana

About 90 minutes from Missoula, Montana, the 50-foot high Holland Falls does not disappoint. The 1.5-mile hike on the Holland Falls National Recreation Trail hugs Holland Lake and offers spectacular views of the Mission Mountains.

Holland Falls

 More info


Mesa Falls – Caribou-Targhee National Forest, Idaho

As you approach either the Upper or Lower Mesa Falls, you’ll hear them before you see them. Less than an hour from West Yellowstone, Montana, the falls are easily accessible from the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway. From the Visitor Center you can view the Upper Falls and a short walk on the 1.25-mile nature trail leads you to the Lower Falls.

Mesa Falls
(photo by Terry Quinn)

More info


Franklin Falls – Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington

Perfect for families, Franklin Falls descends 70 feet to the pool below. About an hour from Seattle and just off of Snoqualmie Pass, the two-mile loop is the perfect day hike. Depending on the time of year, you can explore close to the falls with caution.

Franklin Falls

More info


Nugget Falls – Tongass National Forest, Alaska

When you visit the Mendenhall Glacier, stretch your legs on the 0.8-mile trail to get up close and personal with Nugget Falls. The waterfall drops more than 370 feet in two tiers into the lake at the mouth of the glacier.

Nugget Falls
(photo by Ethan Ableman)


More info