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Title: Forest science research and scientific communities in Alaska: a history of the origins and evolution of USDA Forest Service research in Juneau, Fairbanks, and Anchorage.

Author: Geier, Max G.;

Date: 1998

Source: Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-426. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 226 p

Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)

Description: Research interest in the forests of Alaska can be traced from the 1990s back to 1741, when Georg Steller, the surgeon on Vitus Bering's Russian expedition, visited Kayak Island, collected plants, and recorded his observations. Given the scope and scale of potential research needs and relatively high expenses for travel and logistics in Alaska, support for forest research in Alaska, from this first European contact through the present era of scientists working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, seldom was adequate. Forest Service scientists at Juneau, Fairbanks, and Anchorage in the late 20th century have nevertheless accomplished research goals despite difficult logistics, limited funding, and agency mandates for timber production. The Alaska Forest Research Center was established at Juneau in 1948, with some research activity also at Fairbanks by the 1960s, in cooperation with the University of Alaska. Research at Juneau included silviculture, mensuration, fisheries habitat, water quality, soils, entomology, pathology, and forest survey; and, at Fairbanks, silviculture, fire ecology, entomology, hydrology, and aquatic biology. Multi-functional research units at Fairbanks and Juneau studied the ecology of interior and coastal forests by the 1970s. The Forest Inventory Unit was transferred from Juneau to Anchorage in 1978. The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act and public concern about the effects of logging on the Tongass National Forest redefined the context of research in Alaska by the 1980s. The research program at Juneau was reorganized in 1984 as a Multi-project Program to conduct research that would assess how timber harvests, as mandated by ANILCA, would affect the multi-resource management goals mandated by the National Forest Management Act of 1976. The program also included six PNW Research Work Units outside of Alaska: Recreation, Utilization, Forest Engineering, Production Economics, Foreign Trade, and Resource Management Impacts. Agency scientists and cooperators broadened the range of questions and disciplines in forest-related research, but budgetary concerns, and the political environment continue to influence the kinds of issues studied in the search for usable knowledge about Alaska's forests.

Keywords: forest research, Alaska, history, ecology, fisheries, entomology, wildlife, survey, inventory, timber, taiga, Tongass, Chugach, Pacific Northwest, fire, clearcut, salmon, watershed, landslide, experimental forest, Research Natural Area, aerial photography, remote sensing, transportation, boats, aircraft

Publication Notes:

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  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
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Citation:


Geier, Max G. 1998. Forest science research and scientific communities in Alaska: a history of the origins and evolution of USDA Forest Service research in Juneau, Fairbanks, and Anchorage. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-426. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 226 p

 


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