INTEGRATED SCIENCE IN THE FOREST SERVICE UNDER CHANGING CONDITIONS
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.