Our Mission

The Utah Forest Institute is a science-based outreach and engagement organization hosted by the Department of Wildland Resources and the S.J. & Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources at Utah State University. Utah State University is a land-grant university with a mission to foster the principle that academics come first, by cultivating diversity of thought and culture, and by serving the public through learning, discovery, and engagement - tenants that the Utah Forest Institute strives to uphold. We were established by the Utah State Legislature in 2018.

We, personally, envision a collaborative organization with the principal objective to improve wildfire outcomes with respect to burn severity, recovery, and provision of ecosystem services. As it stands, the wildfire regimes of Utah have not been adequately characterized, making long-term planning and management of wildfire difficult. We are quantifying the "wildfire" normals for wildfires in Utah as a whole and within Utah's major vegetation types more specifically. We seek to increase the scientific understanding of wildfire in Utah to ultimately examine the long-term efficacy of forest treatments. And as soon as we develop the capacity, we will partner with stake-holders, land managers, and policy makers to assist with implementing evidence-backed forest treatments.

Our Staff

Leadership


James A. Lutz, Ph.D.
Director

Undergraduate Technical Analysts


Kathryn Cunningham

Graduate Students

Alex is a PhD student working with Dr. Larissa Yocom to quanitfy the scale of wildfire burn severity heterogeneity across western forests using the remote sensing cloud computing platform Google Earth Engine. He is using Composite Burn Index (CBI) data collected by the UFI's 2020 field crew to ground validate a comparison of the accuracy of burn severity indices as calculated by the USGS Landsat and ESA Sentinel 2 platforms for recent North American fires.



Jamela Thompson is a MS student working with Dr. Larissa Yocom and focusing on applying spatial analyses to answer questions about the efficacy of federal and state fuel treatments in Utah. She is using the UFI's burn severity analyses of all Utah wildfires 40 - 400 ha in size that crossed over into previously treated land to aid in this work.




Kipling Klimas is a PhD student working with Dr. Larissa Yocom and is focusing on how forest fuel treatments can reduce the negative impacts from post-fire erosion on downstream resources like reservoirs and fish habitat. He is using the UFI's burn severity analyses of all Utah wildfires 40 - 400 ha in size to test the accuracy of the Utah DNR Wildfire Risk Assessment Portal in predicting wildfire location and severity.




2020 Field Crew


Emily Liese

Hiromi Kondo

Natalie Otto

Kadin Woolever

Alumni


Megan Nasto
Senior Technical Analyst
(2019-2021)

Angelia Klein
(2021)

Kylee Madsen
(2019-2021)

Emily Liese
(2020-2021)

Sheven Andersen
(2019-2021)

Justine Cornwall
(2018-2020)

Jordan Hanson
(2019-2020)

Kyle McMurray
(2019-2020)

Tiana Price
(2018-2020)

Erika Blomdahl
Senior Technical Analyst
(2018-2019)

Etta Crowley
(2018-2019)

Sessions Lowham
(2018-2019)

Cache Rasmussen
(2018-2019)

Shawnee Tebbs
(2018-2019)

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