Research Activities

Forest Restoration Governance

For the last decade, in collaboration with partners from the Ecosystem Workforce Program at the University of Oregon and several PLPG grad students, I have been investigating policy innovations that are designed to promote collaborative, landscape-scale forest restoration. With funding from the US Forest Service, we recently completed our project investigating the impacts of new, forest restoration authorities and initiatives, looking into the added value, challenges, successes, and future of the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program and the Joint Chiefs Landscape Restoration Partnership. Several of my students used opportunity to study these programs to support their Ph.D. and M.S. theses. More information and links to our products can be found here: Beginning in 2019, we will be conducting a longitudinal study of the Forest Service’s Shared Stewardship efforts.

Fire Policy and Planning

My research group investigates a variety of topics related to the governance context around fire management, including policy barriers and opportunities to increase application of prescribed fire (here is a working paper and publication on this topic), and strategies to improve decision making during wildland fire events. We are also studying efforts to improve the prioritization and implementation of fuels reduction and climate adaptation projects on US forestlands.

In Fall 2016 I began work on three projects funded by the Joint Fire Science Program.  For the first, “Policy Barriers to Prescribed Fire: Identifying Opportunities and Mechanisms for Change”, we are investigating the policies that promote and constrain prescribed fire on federal lands and identify opportunities to change existing policy to allow for increased application of prescribed fire.  With colleagues from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, I just completed a study where we used interviews (see our publication here) and climate-fire-vegetation models to explore the management implications of future fire in Alaska (“Impacts of Climate and Management Options on Wildland Fire Fighting in Alaska: Implications for Operational Costs and Complexity Under Future Scenarios”). A third project led by Jesse Abrams at the University of Georgia considers the application of resilience concepts to land management planning (see this working paper) and is entitled “Integrating Social and Ecological Resilience into Forest Management Planning.”

With Matt Thompson and Sarah McCaffrey, both Forest Service research scientists, I am also working on several papers focused on institutional variables that affect the current state of fire management in the United States. Our work draws upon systems theory and institutional analysis to examine how agency institutions impede change and perpetuate the status quo. We recently published a piece entitled “Forest Service Fire Management and the Elusiveness of Change.

Incorporating Climate Change Considerations into Forest Planning

I am involved in several projects investigating existing strategies, guidance, barriers, and opportunities for incorporating climate change considerations in national forest planning. With a large, multi-institution team and postdoctoral scholar Niki von Hedemann (see our Staff page), I am working on an NSF Macrosystems Biology project investigating the future of forest function under different management and climate scenarios. The PLPG also has been working with the US Forest Service Office of Sustainability and Climate to investigate the integration of climate change vulnerability assessments into adaptation planning and corporate investment in climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts on national forests. Check out this publication from Thomas Timberlake, who finished his PhD in 2019.

A Third-Party Evaluation of the Integrated Resource Restoration Budget Pilot

Between 2013 and 2016, I worked on an evaluation of a piloted change to the Forest Service’s budget and performance measurement structure, designed to support integrated restoration. The project took place in three phases, including interviews, a survey, and outreach and education with stakeholders.  This work was conducted at the request of the Forest Service and in partnership with Dr. Cassandra Moseley from the University of Oregon.  You can find links to all of our working and briefing papers at

Please see my publication page for a list of peer-reviewed publications related to this project.