The History of the Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center (FRESC)

The Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center (FRESC) is one of about 90 science centers in the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), which in turn is part of the Department of the Interior (DOI).

The Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center (FRESC) is one of about 90 science centers in the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), which in turn is part of the Department of the Interior (DOI). The DOI is a federal Cabinet-level agency consisting of nine technical bureaus that manage America's natural and cultural resources. FRESC dates back to 1994 when it was created with scientists who were historically aligned with the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and several of their university partners. Adding to this complement are new employees hired since 1996 by the USGS.

DOI Reorganization Started the Process

Several major changes occurred prior to 1994 to form the current FRESC. The changes were associated with increasing the independence between research and management responsibilities in the DOI and the consolidation of research functions. The most significant reorganization occurred in 1993 when the DOI research biologists were consolidated into a newly created bureau called the National Biological Survey. This bureau was subsequently renamed the National Biological Service (NBS) and, in 1996, it became the Biological Resources Division of the USGS.

Agency Research Groups Merge

As these changes happened in the western United States, research groups that were previously affiliated with other organizations merged in 1994 and adopted the name “Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center.” Three National Park Service Cooperative Park Studies Units, located at the University of Washington, Oregon State University, and Northern Arizona University joined. Several other National Park Service researchers from Olympic, Canyonlands, Arches, and Natural Bridges national parks also joined, as did two groups from the Bureau of Land Management. One of the latter was the Pacific Forest and Basin Rangeland Systems Cooperative Research and Technology Unit, which initially formed in 1991 in Corvallis, Oregon. The other, the Raptor Research and Technical Assistance Center, dated back to 1990 and was located in Boise, Idaho. A small group of contaminant researchers and a Fish and Wildlife Service zoologist studying amphibians, all located in Corvallis, completed the early formation of the FRESC research team. The merger of administrative and leadership staff paralleled the formation of the research team.

Current Location and Structure

The general location and research focus of many of these groups can still be distinguished today in the geographic organization of FRESC. Field stations are still located in the cities of Boise, Corvallis, Seattle, and at Olympic National Park. Two southwestern field stations at Moab, Utah and Flagstaff, Arizona subsequently departed to form part of the new Southwest Biological Science Center created by the USGS in 2002.

FRESC’s current structure and research capabilities are described in other parts of this web site. You are invited to explore the FRESC website, seek out our science expertise, and contact us to ask any questions that come to mind. Undoubtedly, the future holds additional organizational change for FRESC, given our changing world and need for a responsive research organization to help understand these changes and related consequences to our natural world.