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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Bulletin Supplement (Winter 2006)
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STAFF NEWS

The SWRC Tombstone Staff would like to acknowledge Chad Radford for his contributions this summer.  Chad has been working as a Hydrologic Technician on a 130-day appointment at Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed in Tombstone with John Smith. Chad has spent the majority of the summer installing and maintaining equipment to monitor the Upper San Pedro Basin for the Upper San Pedro Project. Chad's wife is also expecting soon, so best wishes for the new family and Thanks for all your good work!

Also in
Tombstone, Dustin Goering has accepted a two-year term position as a Hydrologic Technician with the ARS in Tombstone.  He will be concentrating on data collection and monitoring associated with the Upper San Pedro Partnership along with work on WG.  Originally from Iowa, Dustin completed his B.S. in meteorology at Iowa State University in 1999.  Immediately following his graduation, he spent four and a half years in the U. S. Air Force as a weather officer stationed in Arizona with a tour in Uzbekistan.  Currently, Dustin is a graduate student in the School of Natural Resources at the University of Arizona working towards his M.S. in watershed management. 

 

We’re happy to welcome back Ross Bryant as a Hydrologic Technician for Russ Scott.  Ross (not Russ) left SWRC a few years ago to work with Statistical Research Inc., and we’re lucky that he wanted to come back into the fold.  Ross has an accomplished history of research support and independent research, and he'll make a great contribution to the SWRC team.

 

Chandra Holifield Collins, SWRC Support Scientist, earned her doctorate degree from the University of Arizona's Soil, Water and Environmental Science Department this December.  Her dissertation title was "Mapping Carbon Dioxide Flux in Semiarid Grasslands Using Optical Remote Sensing."  Congratulations on work well done!

 

Yulia Alexandrov, a Post-Doctoral Scientist from the Department of Geography & Environmental Development of The Ben Gurion University of the Negev working under the direction of Prof. Jonathan B. Laronne, visited the USDA-ARS Southwest Watershed Research Center from Sept. 11 to Sept. 22 to work with the Automated Geospatial Watershed Assessment (AGWA) team on an International Arid Lands Consortium Project entitled “Reducing Runoff/Soil Erosion by Afforestation in a Semiarid Area” being run jointly with Prof. Phil Guertin of the Univ. of Arizona and David Goodrich of the SWRC. 

 

Mark Nearing and SWRC staff just finished a new 3-fold brochure.  This should raise the visibility of our mission to develop knowledge and technology to conserve water and soil in semi-arid lands”.  If you have a use for SWRC brochures, please ask and we’ll send them to you.  Thanks to SWRC technician Gerardo Armendariz for doing a great job with the layout.  <link to brocure?>

 

Cheryl Fusco and Mary White organized our location Food Drive (a friendly competition with the USDA ARS Bee Research Laboratory) with donations going to the Salvation Army.  This year, we donated 550 pounds of food (over 534 items) and $80.00

 

After 32 years of federal service, our Location Administrative Officer Tinka Buck, retired this year.  Over the years, Tinka reached out to numerous individuals throughout the agency and created a network of friends and admirers.  Over 100 people came together for her retirement party to thank her for the person-to-person help she has given everyone.  No wonder she was recently recognized by the Pacific West Area as the PWA Administrative Officer of the Year.

 

The Soil Science Society of America at its annual meeting in November 2006 dedicated the Francis Clark Distinguished Lectureship in Soil Biology to Dean A. Martens for his contribution to soil science.  Dean Martens, a soil scientist with the USDA-ARS at the Southwest Watershed Research Center in Tucson, AZ, passed away on 15 November 2005 after a short battle with cancer. 

 

Ken and Virginia Renard celebrated their 50th wedding in Madison, WI on September 8. They renewed their vows at the church they were married at and had a reception for immediate family at the country club where their original reception was held. Had a wonderful time!

 

FUTURE SCIENCE EVENTS

 

Mary Nichols collaborated with NRCS to conduct the Manzanita Erosion Control Workshop. The workshop was conducted near Benson, AZ on December 12th and included an overview of erosion and sedimentation processes followed by hands on demonstrations of range grass seeding and loose rock check dam construction.

 

Mary Nichols will present an invited talk on "Check Dams and Rangeland Conservation" at the Annual Malpai Borderlands Group Science Meeting January 8, 2007 in Douglas, AZ.

 

The National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics recently completed an intensive set of flume experiments that included the use of radio-frequency identification (RFID) sediment particle tracking technology developed by Mary Nichols at the SWRC.  Individual particles were tracked to study how sediment sorts in an aggradational setting.

 

Mary Nichols and Kim McReynolds have completed one season of field experiments to study the impact of check dams on sediment, soil moisture distribution, and vegetative response. This collaboration was supported by The Agricultural Research Service/Arizona Cooperative Extension Fellowship Program.

 

The recent drought has been very hard on vegetation at Walnut Gulch, with a number of researchers noticing high mortality before the summer rains, particularly on the grasses at upper end of the watershed. The summer rains were good enough to establish new grass plants, though almost all the new grass plants are Lehmann lovegrass (Eragrostis lehmanniana Nees.), an introduced species from South Africa. Dan Robinett, a longtime NRCS Range Conservationist, visited the Kendall study area in November. Based on what he has seen across southern Arizona in the past, Dan thought the vegetation composition may have been permanently changed. Lehmann lovegrass is very good at exploiting situations like 2006, and the native grasses have a very hard time getting a foothold once Lehmann lovegrass gets established and starts producing seed. Lehmann lovegrass tends to grow in a monoculture, and can produce up to a third more biomass, but the seeds are too small to be a good source of food for wildlife.

 

In an effort to complement ongoing projects to apply remote sensing on rangeland management in Arizona and Kazakhstan, the ARS Administration has funded a 1-year Post-Doctoral position at SWRC to work on drought mitigation in China. Phil Heilman, in collaboration with a former Post-Doctoral Scientist at SWRC (Jiaguo Qi of Michigan State University) has hired Lihong Su of Montclair State University in New Jersey to analyze climate and the effect of anti-desertification efforts on vegetation in western China. Lihong will arrive and begin working at the SWRC in April, 2007.

 

Toby Finke, a MS student in the UA Dept. of Geography with Prof. Steve Yool, is working with Susan Moran on thesis research to study the variability in infiltration due to urbanization detected by orbiting satellite sensors.   He holds a Diploma in Geography at University of Leipzig, Germany, with a thesis entitled “Creation of a rule-based model to allocate future land use changes in the Tisza river basin”.

 

Three UA Space Grant Students, Emilie Duisberg, Lori De Young and Kristen Kuhl, joined us this fall.  Emilie Brill Duisberg is a senior majoring in Anthropology and minoring in French and Soil, Water, and Environmental Science at UA. Emilie is leading a student effort to build water harvesting projects at the university. She will work with Phil Heilman to assess how the State's geology maps could help map ecological sites on hills at the landscape scale.  Lori De Young is a junior in the School of Natural Resources with a major in wildlife conservation and management.  Lori is working with Susan Moran to explore the effects of seasonality, precipitation intensity, and plant cover on root zone soil moisture for areas in the Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed.  Lori has a passion for science and learning new things.  Kristen Kuhl is a senior majoring in History and minoring in Classics at the UA. Kristen is working with Mary Nichols and Ray Turner on a project titled "Documenting Vegetation Change in Southeastern Arizona Using Repeat Photography". Vegetation changes will be assessed from an extensive collection of historic and current matched photographs assembled by Ray Turner covering the Malpai Borderlands Region.

 

AWARDS

 

Tinka Buck, our Location Administrative Office, was chosen from all the Pacific West Area AO, for the 2006 Location Administrative Officer of the Year.  In response to this area-wide recognition, she immediately retired.  Or maybe she had other reasons for retiring.  In any case, congratulations to Tinka!

 

It was a busy Monsoon Season this year and the Tombstone crew Aaron Sobel, Bob Lamb, Robert Bristow, John Smith and Matt Kucharski received awards for their extra efforts. Tombstone technician Dustin Goering also received an award for his work with Jeff Stone and the Simulator crew.

 

Dave Goodrich (SWRC Scientist), Darius Semmens (Former SWRC Student, now EPA Scientist) and Bill Kepner (EPA Scientist, SWRC Colleague) received the EPA Bronze Medal Award. The Bronze Medal is the highest award that can be achieved within the EPA Office of Research and Development and it symbolizes superior acts of
accomplishment (a once-in-a-career event).  They were recognized “for superior performance in developing, applying and providing innovative watershed analysis tools to the public, regulatory, and scientific communities”, in particular the Automated Geospatial Watershed Assessment (AGWA). 


Last Modified: 1/28/2008
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