Matthew Greenfield
ENVS 120 Internship – Umatilla USFS
Mid-semester Report
March 12, 2003

Create a Photo History of the Vegetation in Jarboe/Brock Meadows


General Information

The Brock and Jarboe meadows are located in the Umatilla National Forest in Union County, Oregon along Upper Jarboe Creek. This area of the Umatilla National Forest is considered to be a dry/moist or wet meadow and the stream is important habitat for native redband trout. Currently the project is concerned with restoring the area to its appropriate historical vegetation. The project involves the removal of fencing and conifer trees surrounding the meadows. Restoration also includes replanting native grasses, sedges and shrubs to help stabilize the banks of Upper Jarboe Creek. My internship deals with the analysis of aerial photographs of the Jarboe and Brock meadows to determine the vegetative changes since 1939. The analysis will help to show where future efforts for restoration should be directed in the Jarboe/Brock Meadow complex.

Objectives

Initially my main objective was to scan and edit a series of photographs and then compare them to see the changes that happened to the meadows. The primary motive for editing the photographs was to compare them over time and to determine at what periods trees have encroached into the grasses. After scanning and formatting the images I wrote a short report on my analysis of the changes in the meadow and on my methods of technical computer work with the aerial photographs.

Experience

My experience with Betsy Kaiser and the Forest Service has been positive. I found that the amount of work was appropriate, but tended to accumulate. I would spend large periods of time committed to working on the project. Much of my time spent at the Forest Service station was for searching for material. I would take them back to Whitman and edit the photographs at my own computer.

While I was at the Forest Service office I found myself talking about the other projects Betsy and Cathy are organizing and their thoughts on the changes in the Jarboe and Brock meadows. These conversations have provided a good idea of what it would be like to work with the Forest Service. I expected that a career with the Forest Service would be more field oriented, but Betsy and Cathy seem to be primarily supervisors for Forest Service projects (like mine).

I’ve learned many things while doing this internship, but I feel that they won’t be useful outside of the walls of the Forest Service. One example is how I learned to search plotting maps for the Jarboe/Brock Meadows to find the names of appropriate aerial photographs and then finding them by sorting through the boxes of flight line photographs. I also learned how to read a stand exam by deciphering the different codes for tree species from a Forest Service manual. There was talk about learning GIS but I found that it was not necessary and would have required work with the computers at the Forest Service.
I primarily work on the scanning in Photoshop. The scans are at the highest resolution acceptable for graphic work while not slowing down computers from an overload of data. I’ve tried several dpi resolutions and have found that the black and white images are easier to work with if I use a high resolution. I’ve become more proficient at resizing and editing pictures to make them easier for analysis but I feel I still have a lot to learn. One of the problems I’ve encountered is the necessity of saving the large image files, I made sure to use computers with a cd burner and brought extra blank cd’s to transport any files I complete. Each cd can hold large amounts of data, so I do significant amounts of work all at once. The need for a cd burner and scanner limits the computers I can edit pictures on. I need a computer with enough speed and power to do large image work but which also has access to a burnable drive.

Reflections

Although I have scanned and resized all the photos, I feel that I could have done a better job if the pictures had been reticulated. The problem with aerial photographs is that the images warp away from the center. Many of the pieces of the meadows are unfortunately on the edges of photographs and slightly warped. I don’t think I have the knowledge or availability to programs to do this, but it would make the final project just a little bit better.

I went out to see the meadows but did not get a chance to examine the tree species on the edges and some of the strange reflections I’ve noticed in the pictures. I originally wanted to clear up some of the questions I’ve gathered during my work with the aerial photographs.

This internship has given me an understanding of what federal employees do while they work. I haven’t felt particularly challenged because the technical aspect is easy to get help with and I’ve been practicing the analytical aspect in my forest ecosystems class. Betsy has offered to be a reference on any future job application resume, I think this act shows that she has faith in my responsibility and work ethic.

I haven’t written in my internship log as often as I would like, but I also tend to do work for the internship all at once, and between sessions I don’t have much to say. If I could find a computer to save my work on and not fear for its safety then I would be able to work on the project in smaller segments. Perhaps this will change once I get off the computers and start analyzing stand data and compiling my report.

Future Efforts

I feel that my portion of the restoration project is finished. Future interns could rescan the photographs or try to scan the original 1939 image. I feel that no further work needs to be done on the photo-history project.

In the future my efforts could be used to analyze the meadows, but I think that anyone examining my work could just as easily look at the original photographs. I find it hard to place value on what I have done, my analysis did not reveal any pertinent or otherwise interesting information. My only success seems to be merging several photographs together to make it easier to look at the whole meadow system in the 1987 photograph.


I found that the work was interesting but it was time consuming and I never knew if it would have a positive impact when I finished. I still do not know what the Forest Service plans to do with my digital images and my report.

Key Contacts:

Betsy Kaiser
Silviculture and Native Plants
Walla Walla Ranger District
1415 West Rose Street
Walla Walla, Washington 99362
(509) 522-6056
bkaiser@fs.fed.us

 

Evaluation of Qualitative Changes in Jarboe/ Brock Meadow systems from Aerial Data

Matthew Greenfield
Whitman College

Objective

This is a report stating my analysis of change in the Jarboe/Brock Meadow complex. Specifically regarding the encroachment or retreat of confers/hardwoods along the boundaries of the meadows. My analysis is based on a set of aerial photographs of the meadows (dates include: 1939, 1955, 1977, 1987, 1993, and 2001). To aid in the interpretation of this data I used stand exams to find the types and sizes of trees within relevant areas of the meadow complex.

Area Description (from Jarboe/Brock Meadows Restoration Project – Phase II)

The Brock and Jarboe Meadows complex is located on the Walla Walla Ranger District of the Umatilla National Forest in Union County, State of Oregon in Upper Jarboe Creek, a tributary of Lookingglass Creek approximately 5 miles east southeast of Jubilee Lake. Elevation of the area ranges from approximately 4,000 feet to just over 4,300 feet. Aspects are mostly southerly with slopes seldom exceeding 10 percent. The legal description of the area is Township 4 North, range 39 East, portions of sections 13 and 24 and Township 4 North, range 40 East, portions of sections 18 and 19.
The 1500-acre Jarboe/Brock Meadow complex consists of three individual meadows (Upper Brock, Lower Brock, and Jarboe) separated by stringers of coniferous forest. Upper Brock and Jarboe Meadows are primarily moist/dry meadows interspersed with small stands of quaking aspen and black cottonwood trees. Lower Brock is considered to be a wet meadow.
Jarboe Creek passes through or adjacent to all three meadows. The creek supports a strong native population of redband trout. Populations of threatened or endangered Snake River steelhead, bull trout, and Chinook salmon occur several miles downstream in Lookingglass Creek.

The meadows offer a diverse blend of terrestrial habitat types. Mule deer, whitetail deer and elk are present in the meadows from early spring to late fall. Previously the low elevation eliminated the meadow system from consideration as habitat for Canadian Lynx. The Jarboe/Brock Meadow complex is now under consideration because the elevation limit was recently lowered for Canadian Lynx habitat.

Methods

In order to examine the changes in the meadows I needed a method for fair comparison of the photographs. It seemed best to scan each image, adjust the size so they were all approximately equal, and then use a system to break up the terrain and compare smaller areas surrounding the meadows.

To create a permanent digital representation of the photographs I used Adobe Photoshop and a Lexmark X83 printer/scanner. All photographs were scanned at 300 dpi and saved as .jpg files. In addition I scanned a 2001 vegetation map with the stand exam labels to act as a reference in terms of scale. After scanning I copied the data to write able compact discs. Using Adobe Photoshop I resized the photographs to the 1:12,000 scale of the vegetation plot and then combined them as layers in a Photoshop document. Within the Photoshop document the pictures roughly lined up, using the layered document I made .jpg files for each year.

I Printed out a black and white version of each photograph and drew in polygons based on the 2001 vegetation map. The polygons are based on distinctive, current features of the meadows. I only included the polygons of, between, and bordering the meadows. These polygons seemed to be the most relevant, and of primary importance to the project.

With the polygon aerial photographs I proceeded to compare the changes in the vegetation of individual polygons. In addition to comparing qualitative changes in the apparent tree cover I used stand data to find out the tree composition within particular polygons.

Data and observations

From the analysis of aerial photographs I found a variety of changes within the Jarboe/Brock Meadow complex. Jarboe and Lower Brock Meadows have maintained roughly the same size and shape since 1939. The area between Lower Brock and Upper Brock has fluctuated in tree density and cover since 1939.

I looked at the polygons bordering the meadows first. This was because I noticed it was very easy to draw the polygons of Jarboe Meadow, Lower Brock Meadow, and polygon 6940638 for every year. Most of the other polygons were very similar in the 1977, 1987, 1993, and 2001 photographs but were changed, obscured, or missing from the 1955 photographs.
Most changes I saw were between the 1939 photograph and the more recent photographs (1977, 1987, 1993, and 2001). The 1955 photograph shows most of Upper Brock Meadow (except for the southeastern section) and the top of Lower Brock Meadow. The lack of key sections of the photograph made it difficult to draw the outline of plots as the key sections aided in navigating the photograph.

Although it is difficult to identify stand 6940635 in the 1939 and 1955 photographs it is easier to identify in the later photographs and has remained stable. It is described as a cool, moist, upland forest, sub-alpine fir climax stand. This area is close to Jarboe Creek and has cottonwoods along the southwest edge. The site also has lodgepole pine, sub-alpine fir, and larch, but the dominant species seems to be Engelmann spruce.

The most drastic change was in stand exam 6940637. The exam was done in 1994 and the border designates the boundaries of tree growth. The stand is absent in the 1939 photograph, and just emerging in the 1955 photograph. The exam data shows that the stand is of a mixed conifer type consisting of mostly Engelmann spruce and grand fir. Other trees within the stand include: lodgepole pine, ponderosa pine, and larch. The oldest trees were Engelmann spruce, larch and grand fir all approximately 60 years old. Under the trees the examination found 41 grand fir seedlings.

Stand 625NPI0002 also was difficult to identify in the 1939 photograph because it shares a border with stand 6940637. It was absent from the 1955 photograph because it wasn’t on the flight lines. This stand is interesting because it seems to have opened up naturally and has turned into a meadow surrounding stand 6940638.

Stand exam 6940638 remained approximately the same size and shape throughout the photo-history. The stand seems to be dominated by lodgepole pine, half of which are dead. Other trees within the stand include: sub-alpine fir, Engelmann spruce, grand fir and a pacific yew.

Stand 6940648 is located north of Upper Brock Meadow, and seems to have been logged between 1955 and 1977. It has grown in very well since the logging and is now composed primarily of grand fir and Engelmann spruce. In addition sub-alpine fir, lodgepole pine and larch grow within the stand. It is possible that the stand has grown toward Upper Brock Meadow, but it is difficult to tell the boundaries in the 1939 and 1955 photographs.

Discussion

I found this to be an interesting project and very rewarding. I noticed many changes in the composition of the meadow, but I have very few explanations for what has caused the adjustment of boundaries between the trees and grasses.

I would guess that the encroachment in stand exam 6940637 is due to fire suppression. Fire suppression would explain the dominance of grand fir and Engelmann spruce, but still support the presence of large ponderosa and larch within the stand. Without fire to kill the young trees growing in the under-story they have been allowed time to mature and spread into the meadow.

The lack of trees in stand exam 625NPI0002 remains unexplained. The trees don’t seem to have given way to meadow, the area seems to be very stable in the photographs where it is clear. The problem being that the 1939 and 1955 photographs do not show this section of the meadow complex clearly. The area seems to be the same in the 1939 photograph, but the details are blurry (the 1939 photograph was scanned from at photocopy, and lost a lot of detail).

I found it difficult to determine what has happened to this meadow complex. The areas that seem to be a mixture of meadow and forest (stand exams 625NPI0002, 6940637, and 6940638) are all very stable in the recent photographs. The earlier photographs suggest that they were much different but lack the detail to suggest how or why they are changing.