The Oregon Season Tracker (OST) program began in 2014 as a way to open the channel of communication between the public and climate researchers studying the interaction of weather, climate and local ecosystems. OST is a partnership of Oregon State University Extension and the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest (LTER) program along with many other community partners with the goal to expand the scope of climate research across the landscapes of Oregon by connecting with trained citizen science volunteers.
Oregon State University Extension has a long and successful history of interpreting and applying science to the problems of local forest, farm and range owners and managers. Extension is active in all 36 Oregon Counties (and Warm Springs) and engages individuals and communities in learning about our natural resources, communities, and ways to sustain each. As a volunteer-oriented/driven program, Extension is in a unique position to train and offer local support to volunteers in monitoring climate change all across the state by working through multiple established programs such as Master Woodland Managers, Master Gardeners as well as the diverse 4-H youth development and school enrichment program and recruiting others.
HJ Andrews Experimental Forest is a leading center for long term research, and a member of the National Science Foundation's Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program. The 16,000 acre research forest in the McKenzie river watershed in the Cascade mountains was established in 1948, with paired watershed studies and several long-term monitoring programs initiated soon after. Today, it is jointly managed by the US Forest Service and OSU for research into forest and stream ecosystems, and the interactions among ecological dynamics, physical processes, and forest governance.
The OSU Extension and the Andrews Forest OST team identified two key areas of study especially suited to citizen involvement in the OST project. Weather affects us all, plant, animals and humans, and precipitation is a key part of weather that is easily observed and recorded. Plant phenology lets us track the seasonal changes of living things that respond to variations in weather and other factors.
We are working with two national partners to to collect and manage OST-gathered data: the Community Collaborative Rain Hail & Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) and the USA National Phenology Network (Nature’s Notebook). There are many benefits of using these national programs including contributing to national as well as local research, and online data access by both citizen scientist and researchers. In addition OST contributes data through CoCoRaHS to the PRISM Climate Group housed at Oregon State University.
Oregon Season Tracker Partners
Oregon Season Tracker funders 2014-2015
USDA-NIFA, Renewable Natural Resource