About Michael J. Furniss  

Michael is broadly educated and experienced in a variety of subjects, including soil science, hydrology, watershed management, forest ecology, wildland civil engineering, fish passage, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and environmental monitoring systems. He worked for the research and development branch of the US Forest Service for 33 years before retiring from the Redwood Sciences Lab in 2012. He is currently an adjunct professor and lecturer in the Forestry and Wildland Sciences Department and lecturer in the Environmental Resource Engineering Department at Cal Poly Humboldt University. He is a 19-year member the Forest Management Committee for the Arcata Community Forest, and a member of the Boards of Directors of the Smith River Alliance and the Trust for Working Lands. He is the founder and president of the Sacred Family Groves project.

He is currently the principal at MJ Furniss and Associates, engaged in a wide range of consulting both in the US and internationally.  Michael intermittently teaches at Cal Poly Humboldt University in Forestry/Watershed and Environmental Engineering, teaching “Climate Change and Land Use”, “Advanced Hydrology”, and “Climate and Energy”.

He is dedicated to the accurate dissemination of earth and ecological science through innovative presentations, web products, publications, and workshops. During his time with the US Forest Service, Michael received 4 national awards, including the Chief’s Award for Excellence in Science and Technology, and was the second recipient of the Wagon Wheel Gap Award (best research hydrologist).  Michael holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of California at Berkeley in Soil Science and Forest Soils and Watershed Management.

Michael recently led a team of 36 earth scientists and fish biologists in writing and publishing: “Water, Climate Change, and Forests”, a high-profile national publication on the intersection of these issues and resources.  He also recently led a team of 24 earth scientists and specialists in a Pilot Climate Watershed Vulnerability Assessment project, in which a national forest from each of 9 regions in the US produced an Assessment of the vulnerability of water and watershed resources to climate change.  

Michael was a key member of a team that developed a codified set of Best Management Practices for California that was later applied to all the National Forests of the USA, and an effective low-cost monitoring system to detect failures and gauge BMP implementation and effectiveness.

About MJ Furniss and Associates

MJ Furniss and Associates has been in business since 2012 and specializes in:

  • Green (natural) burial development.  Cemetery forestry.  Conservation burial development. Green burial with trees. Family Groves memorial forest development.
  • Small run-of-the-river, fish-friendly hydropower assessment
  • Forests and climate change, mitigation and adaptation
    • Climate and climate impact basics
    • Climate change and water resources
    • Forest management and climate change, including REDD+
    • Vulnerability assessment principles and practice
    • Wildland infrastructure vulnerability assessment
    • Sea level rise: basics, vulnerability assessment, adaptation planning and implementation
    • Curriculum development for universities and professional land management agencies and organizations.
  • Coastal geomorphology and sea-level rise
  • Climate change communications
  • Erosion control
  • Principles of ecosystem management
  • Watershed-friendly roads: analysis, planning, mitigation, decommissioning
  • Best Management Practice development and monitoring
  • Watershed management and aquatic ecosystem conservation
  • Forest soils: fertility, management, and conservation
  • Ecosystem services frameworks
  • Environmental assessment systems
  • Fish passage inventory and remediation
  • Environmental monitoring approaches and systems. Failure detection and analysis
  • Communications for natural resource professionals
  • Remote learning specialist

We have recently been retained:

  • Climate and infrastructure consultant and a primary author for the Coalition for Climate Resilient Infrastructure, an international effort based in India.cdri.world/upload/biennial/CH3.1-USFS.pdf
  • Curriculum developer and lead subject matter expert for Forest Service International Programs “International Seminar in Climate Change”. 2023. ISCC
  • Consultant to Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA) to assess small run-of-the-river hydropower opportunities in Humboldt and Trinity Counties, and focus expert and public discussions of biomass energy. Advise the RCEA Board on the issues, concerns, and opportunities for small hydropower, biochar carbon sequestration, nano-crystaline cellullose, and biomass-generated electric power. Biomass Humboldt-RCEA-Revised_December_2021_final.docx (redwoodenergy.org)
  • Fish-friendly roads consultant to the Wild Salmon Center in the recently culminated “Private Forest Accord”, to modernize the forest practice rules on ~10 million acres of private timberlands in Oregon.
  • Conducted and prepared an assessment of infrastructure vulnerability and impacts for the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota and Wyoming. https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd1153848.pdf
  • Advised the government of the Republic of the Congo on methods to control widespread extreme gullying — an existential threat to the capital cities of Brazzaville, Kinshasa, and surrounding areas. For the US State Department, the US Water Partnership, and the US Forest Service, and for the Mayors of the two most strongly affected cities. Working team site.
  • Conducted an assessment of methods for determining modeling and allowable loading of air and water pollutants in Viet Nam, for UNDP-Vietnam.
  • Conducted a Regional-scale infrastructure climate change vulnerability assessment (roads, trails, and campgrounds) for the Rocky Mountain Region of the US Forest Service (11 national forests and 7 national grasslands in 4 states). https://www.dropbox.com/s/iokf1v8cmte1u8b/Region_2_InfrastructureVA_Low_Res.pdf?dl=0
  • Conducted a Regional-scale infrastructure climate change vulnerability assessment (roads, trails, and campgrounds) for the Intermountain Region of the US Forest Service (12 national forests in 5 states). https://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs_series/rmrs/gtr/rmrs_gtr375/rmrs_gtr375_339_362.pdf
  • Developed an infrastructure vulnerability assessment for 10 national forests in the Sierra Nevada region of California https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/63218.
  • International advisor and content creator for a climate change curriculum for the Ho Chi Minh Academy in Vietnam. Delivered to ~200,000 people per year. 
  • Developed a curriculum on climate change for 12 Universities in 6 countries in SE Asia and the Asia Pacific for the USAID LEAF program. Now in use is 75+ universities in the region.  Lead developer and team lead for the Basic Survey Course in Climate Change. Taught educators from each campus how to use the materials and teach the various topics.
  • Developed multi-dimensional TimeMaps (stacked, thematic timelines) for important natural and research areas in Alaska for the Chugach and Tongass National Forests in Alaska, including the Copper River Delta. ==>https://prezi.com/view/opXYbaV0W5jkSmbTkD6r/
  • Provided lead science advising to a natural resource partnership in Southern Ecuador to assess climate change vulnerability of the southern provinces, for water supply, biodiversity, botanical vulnerability, and forest carbon sequestration.
  • Consulted on erosion problems associated with roads and agricultural drainage for the KKL (Foresters) in Israel.
  • Developed a curriculum and delivered a 1-week short-course in “Ecological Monitoring” for the Forest Research Institute in Dehradun, India.
  • Developed a curriculum and delivered a one-week short course in vulnerability assessment for Parks and Protected Area staffs in Colombia.
  • Delivered a one-week short course in climate vulnerability assessment for students from 4 countries (Peru, Ecuador, Columbia, Brazil) of the Initiative for the Conservation of the Andean Amazon, in Peru.
  • Developed and delivered climate change education for provincial leaders in the Thanh Hoa Province of Viet Nam.
  • Advised policymakers and natural resource managers in Viet Nam on conducting sea level rise vulnerability assessment of forests and deltas.
  • Developed and delivered a short-course in watershed-friendly roads for policymakers and managers in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.
  • Actively developing two projects for “Green Burial with Trees” to create natural burial grounds that allow tree planting on graves and burial in existing forests and orchards. Essentially: Burial in the root zone of trees in Family Groves. (Entreement®).
  • Assisted in the development of a pilot “payment for ecosystem services program” for water resources and forest conservation in Vietnam. Developed the original project in Lam Dong province, now extended to all provinces with hydroelectric facilities.
  • Developed education and training systems for cultivating communities of practice in Viet Nam to achieve effective implementation of a nationwide “payment for ecosystem services” program.  Co-authored a manual for the cultivation of Communities of Practice:

Other Clients

Developed a website that documents a “Breakthrough Convening on Climate Change and Urban Forestry for the City of Eugene and the Cascadia Network.  (see links on this page)

Conducted environmental assessment of beach stability for a private client in the Caribbean.

Consulted with Sonoma Open Space NGO regarding land trust deed conditions for large forested holdings

Developing GIS mapping systems for Smith River Alliance

Micro-publishing support for 6 authors in the past year

Revised the FishXing software package and website for the Stream Systems Technology Center

Private clients for water system vulnerability assessment and flood zone mapping

Some online references

Google Scholar Profile

Sacred Family Groves Project
Climate Change Resource Center (Michael designed and built this site, and developed the team that carries it on.)
FishXing website  (Software and learning systems for fish passage through culverts. MJ Furniss is team lead)
Roads Analysis
Water-Road Interaction Monographs
Video lectures collection
(techniques developed and implemented by MJ Furniss)
Breakthrough Convening on Urban Forestry and Climate Change
YouTube Channel
Ecological Monitoring Short Course for foresters in India

Dragonfly Eyes: Multiple ways of seeing the future.
(This is done in PREZI (the older version). Give it plenty of time to load. Make Full Screen.  Use arrow keys to step through)

A short video we produced from an “Ideas Jam”, “New Metaphors of Restoration” at the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest near Eugene Oregon in 2002.

Lecture on Sea Level Rise. 2016, for “Science on Tap” by Chemistry and Physics Departments of Humboldt State University.

Is the North Coast of California a Climate Refuge?

Green Burial in Humboldt County: Options and Aspirations

Communities of Practice MJ Furniss