Elkhorn Mountain Conifer Density Survey

In partnership with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and Pheasants Forever in Bozeman, MT, our research assistant is using geospatial analysis and remote sensing to determine conifer density and potential encroachment in the Elkhorn Mountain region. Throughout western Montana there are forest communities which have not burned in decades. Lack of fire may lead to conifer encroachment of grasslands and increase fuel loads which heighten wildfire risks within these communities. This analysis will locate areas within the Elkhorn Mountains that are conifer dense and may need mechanical thinning to create more wildfire resilient communities. Potential treatment areas will be prioritized based on current land use, conifer density, and species composition. Analysis using geospatial tools and remote sensing will also identify forest areas previously treated and examine the efficacy of mechanical thinning to limit encroachment. Determining the efficacy of these treatments will better inform management decisions going forward.


Natural Resources Conservation Service, Bozeman, MT


This map describes the average percent canopy cover of the Elkhorn Mountains, Montana. Canopy cover was determined using a LiDAR subset of the mountains paired with object-based classification.


William Weinberg, Research Assistant| William Weinberg is a Master of Forest Science candidate at Yale School of the Environment whose research focuses on agroforestry practices in the United States. Originally from the Mojave Desert, William went north to complete his Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry at Humboldt State University. His previous research has included physiological effects of pathogens on hardwood species, and energy allocation in masting tree species. Outside of academia, William enjoys baking, hiking, and reading. |   Blog