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Sustainability 2017, 9(11), 2144;

Terrestrial Condition Assessment for National Forests of the USDA Forest Service in the Continental US

USDA Forest Service, National Forest System, Rhinelander, WI 54501, USA
USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
Redcastle Resources, Inc., Salt Lake City, UT 84103, USA
USDA Forest Service, Alaska Region, Juneau, AK 99801, USA
USDA Forest Service, National Forest System, Washington, DC 20250, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 29 September 2017 / Revised: 16 November 2017 / Accepted: 18 November 2017 / Published: 22 November 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecological Restoration for Sustainable Forest Management)
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The terrestrial condition assessment (TCA) evaluates effects of uncharacteristic stressors and disturbance agents on land-type associations (LTAs) to identify restoration opportunities on national forest system (NFS) lands in the United States. A team of agency scientists and managers, representing a broad array of natural resource disciplines, developed a logic structure for the TCA to identify appropriate data sources to support analyses. Primary national data sources included observed insect- and pathogen-induced mortality, key critical loads for soil and the atmosphere, long term seasonal departures in temperature and precipitation, road densities, uncharacteristic wildfires, historical fire regime departure, wildfire potential, insect and pathogen risk, and vegetation departure from natural range of variability. The TCA was implemented with the ecosystem management decision support (EMDS) system, a spatial decision support system for landscape analysis and planning. EMDS uses logic models to interpret data, synthesizes information over successive layers of logic topics, and draws inferences about the ecological integrity of LTAs as an initial step to identifying high priority LTAs for landscape restoration on NFS lands. Results from the analysis showed that about 74 percent of NFS lands had moderate or better overall ecological integrity. Major impacts to ecological integrity included risk of mortality due to insects and disease, extent of current mortality, extent of areas with high and very high wildfire hazard potential, uncharacteristically severe wildfire, and elevated temperatures. In the discussion, we consider implications for agency performance reporting on restoration activities, and subsequent possible steps, including strategic and tactical planning for restoration. The objective of the paper is to describe the TCA framework with results from a national scale application on NFS lands. View Full-Text
Keywords: ecological integrity; stressors; disturbance agents; spatial decision support; restoration; assessment ecological integrity; stressors; disturbance agents; spatial decision support; restoration; assessment

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

Supplementary material

  • Externally hosted supplementary file 1
    Description: The link is to a folder with three files: Supplement file 1: TCA metadata for data inputs to logic model Supplement file 2: Complete documentation of the NetWeaver logic in HTML Supplement file 3: ArcMap document with maps of all NetWeaver outputs for the TCA project

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Cleland, D.; Reynolds, K.; Vaughan, R.; Schrader, B.; Li, H.; Laing, L. Terrestrial Condition Assessment for National Forests of the USDA Forest Service in the Continental US. Sustainability 2017, 9, 2144.

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