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Research In The College Of Natural Resources

USU College Of Natural Resources Research


Department of Wildland Resources

Dr. Michael R. Kuhns is an extension education specialist whose work involves wildland and urban forest carbon sequestration. In particular, he examines how the strategic placement of urban trees can help reduce home (and other) energy use, thereby reducing environmental impacts of energy generation. He is also interested in people's mistaken beliefs that the carbon absorbed by increased tree-planting in urban areas can, by itself, have a significant impact on carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Dr. Kuhns would like to understand these beliefs so that he can increase people's environmental literacy, and help them make better tree-planting decisions.

Dr. Richard E. Toth has 3 projects on environmental sustainability that have received Merit Awards from the American Planning Association:
Cache Valley 2030
Alternative Futures for the Bear River Watershed
Alternative Futures Study: Little Bear River Watershed

In a series of research projects, the Bioregional Planning Program at USU and Dr. Toth have examined the biophysical systems, cultural
regimes, tax structure, and projected human population growth, development and land use (residential, commercial, industrial, and open
space) in Cache Valley and nearby watersheds. The team has used an integrated approach to assess how all of these variables interact,
and developed a suite of alternative future projections for population growth, air (including carbon emissions) and water quality, development,
and land use based on alternative tax and economic planning incentives that local governments might choose from. Of notable importance,
these projections identify future scenarios whereby public health, welfare and safety, economic growth, agriculture, energy use, and all
features of environment quality (air, water, plants and wildlife, etc.) can be maintained, or improved, in a sustainable manner.

For full reports and inter-departmental collaborations, please see the websites listed above.

Dr. Mark W. Brunson studies the potential for sequestering carbon in rangeland soils from a social science perspective. The Chicago Climate
Exchange announced a new program to enroll ranchers in a carbon offset program, which has been touted as an innovative way to improve
both economic and environmental sustainability of ranching. For various reasons, the program has had trouble gaining momentum. To help
rectify some of these problems, Dr. Brunson has been studying stakeholder perceptions of rangeland carbon-sequestration schemes and
potential barriers to participation for landowners. He also led a workshop in Mexico on rangeland carbon sequestration to help encourage
sustainable livestock management on Mexican rangelands.