The Hubbard Brook Research Foundation hosted an Ice Storm Stakeholder Symposium at the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord, New Hampshire on Friday, March 6, 2020. This event hosted over 50 professionals from the New Hampshire Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, the New Hampshire Division of Forests and Lands, the National Weather Service, as well as woodlot owners, electric utility operators, arborists, weather observers, and journalists. Scientists Lindsey Rustad (USDA Forest Service), John Campbell (USDA Forest Service), Peter Groffman (CUNY Advanced Science Research Center and the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies), and Robert Fahey (University of Connecticut) were on hand to share the results of the pioneering Ice Storm Experiment at Hubbard Brook, followed by a lively discussion with participants about the science of ice storms and the impacts of extreme weather on New Hampshire's forests.
One of the goals of the event was to share research-based insights about ice storms and forests with people who are making decisions about responding to ice storms and managing forests in New Hampshire. But another goal was to provide a platform for stakeholders to share their interests, questions, and observations with scientists. At the end of the event, after all the guests had departed, the scientists huddled around a conference table at the front of the room, discussing the ideas that emerged during the stakeholder discussion and how future research efforts might address them. "The whole event was an excellent example of how stakeholer engagement can play a positive role in scientific decision making," Peter Groffman said. "These are people who spend a lot of time in the woods and make detailed observations, often very specific and specialized viewpoints. It's a unique and valuable source of information for scientits studying the same forests.
John Campbell echoed Groffman's remarks. "One of the things that really struck me was hearing that the people who didn’t do salvage cutting after the ice storm of 1998 seemed to regret it because although the trees survived, the quality of the wood was poor. We’ve been focused mostly on how the storm affected tree survival and advising people not to harvest based on that, without fully understanding the long-term impacts on timber value. It’s a little out of my realm, but it would be interesting to look at timber sale data and quantify the revenue lost due to tree decay caused by ice storm damage," Campbell said.
Outside of the conference room in the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center, a panel exhibition complete with manequin ice-storm researchers, adorned the science center's entryway. The temporary exhibition, which will be installed at the Discovery Center through the end of 2020, was written and designed by Sarah Garlick, Lindsey Rustad, Clara Chaisson, and Linda Mirabile.