Hubbard Brook Research Foundation

David Sleeper, Executive Director of the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation

Initiative Description and Primary Objectives 

The Hubbard Brook Research Foundation (HBRF) is an independent non-profit which supports and brings to the attention of the public the work of the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study (HBES), a Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) initiative whose scientific operations are largely underwritten by the National Science Foundation. HBES, in turn, brings the respective scientists and their home institutions together to: develop research agendas, share data, approve research projects and synthesize research results. Physically, the HBES is located in the United States Forest Service’s Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest (HBEF, part of the White Mountain National Forest) in West Thornton, New Hampshire.

Key Academic Disciplines 

Bio-geo-chemical nutrient cycling in a watershed context, translation of ecosystems science for land managers and natural resource policy makers, research collaborations between NSF and multiple academic institutions and federal land management agencies.

Key Partner Organizations and Individuals 

The principal investigators with ongoing science at HBEF include: Syracuse, Cornell, Dartmouth, University of New Hampshire, Brown University, University of Vermont, Cary Institute, Yale, Plymouth State University, Wellesley, USFS, USGS and University of Maine.

Initiative History and Champions 

The HBEF was established in 1955 by the United States Forest Service. The HBES traces its origin to 1960, when several young Dartmouth science faculty including Herb Bormann, Noye Johnston and Gene Likens plus a USFS hydrologist Robert Pierce envisioned a long-term investigation into forest dynamics. HBRF was in turn created in the late 1980s to support the work of the HBES. As described by Wikipedia, the “Hubbard Brook Research Foundation supports the work of the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study, which is conducted at the USDA Forest Service's Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest. HBRF supports research by maintaining facilities for housing, meetings, and laboratory work. The Foundation also helps transmit the findings of the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study to policymakers, opinion leaders, and other members of the public through its Science Links program, which translates science from peer-reviewed scientific articles and conducts a variety of education and outreach activities.”

The HBES and the HBRF have actively informed decision-makers regarding a number of environmental issues, including: the Clean Air Act amendments, air quality issues involving mercury and nitrous oxides, acid deposition (also known as acid rain) issues, and  forest management techniques, including the practice of clearcutting, as applied to private forests and forests managed by the US Forest Service.

Distinctiveness and Strategic Significance of the Initiative 

HBES’s broad and enduring collaboration across multiple sectors has successfully navigated into a second generation of leadership-principally the former graduate students of the founding scientists.

Measurable Effectiveness of the Initiative 

The work of the HBES, as supported and reported on by HBRF, has influenced state and Federal legislation. HBES today remains competitive for NSF funding. HBRF has pioneered the “Science Links” outreach approach that is now being adopted by other research collaboratives.

Transferability of the Initiative 

The initiative that I am representing is the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation (HBRF) a multi–entity collaborative that is fostering and stewarding the scientific research and research results that have emanated from the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest owned by the US Forest Service and located on the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire. As a collaboration of multiple entities of higher education and Federal agencies, it is approaching its 60th year of existence. Its best practices are the gems that are transferable.

The Initiative’s Ability to Endure 

Yes, the trove of basic research data and the partnerships between institutions should be very durable.

Engagement Strategies 

There are 3:

• Hubbard Brook “roundtables”: Episodic invitation only gatherings that mix scientists with policy makers and private sector representatives on pre-selected topics

• HBRF’s Science Links publications and collateral outreach to policy makers and engaged citizens

• “Research Experience for Undergraduates” (REU) internships supported by NSF as well as the Hubbard Brook Consortium