Joint 118th Annual Cordilleran/72nd Annual Rocky Mountain Section Meeting - 2022

Paper No. 4-6
Presentation Time: 10:00 AM


CARLSON, Christopher, USDA Forest Service, Research and Development, 1400 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20250

The USDA Forest Service is responsible for the stewardship of 193 million acres of National Forests and Grasslands (“NFS lands”) in 42 states and Puerto Rico, with about 85 percent of those lands in the West. The Forest Service is also responsible for supporting the sustainable management of non-federal forest lands through financial and technical assistance to states, communities, and non-profit and other entities. Forested lands provide important habitat, water supply, carbon storage, forest products, and a variety of other ecosystem goods and services to the nation. Sound stewardship of these lands in the context of drought, wildfire, climate, and other stressors necessitates an integrated, interdisciplinary approach. The Forest Service works with its Research and Development branch, other federal science agencies, conservation organizations, and academia to bring together the best information from the social, physical, and biological sciences to support decision making.

In 1960, Congress specified that NFS lands are to be for multiple uses, including watershed, fish and wildlife, range, recreation, and timber, resulting in a clearer need for biologists, hydrologists, soil scientists, and others to integrate with foresters, silviculturalists, and engineers. With the passage of the National Environmental Policy Act in 1970 and implementation in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Forest Service focused on bringing interdisciplinary teams of specialists together to develop and assess every major activity on NFS lands. Integrated science has also been integral to the agency’s wildland fire programs for decades, fostering improved tools, technology, and safety. In 2011, the agency initiated the Watershed Condition Framework to provide a national focus to restoring priority watersheds using an integrated ecosystem-based approach. Recent efforts to increase collaborative work at the landscape scale with states, tribes, and others through shared stewardship continues to bring together and integrate the best available science to foster improved understanding, identify goals, and enhance forest condition across all ownerships. As the agency works to respond to the forest health crisis in the west and increasing threats from wildfire, integrated science and technology will help show the way.