Water Management and Inventory and Monitoring Providing Needed Data to Decision Makers
Forest management has long identified with the production of water as a fundamental human need. The creation of the earliest United States forest reserves around 1905-1910 codified this need in their enabling legislation and societal discussions of values at that time. Congressional direction for administration of the forest reserves, now called national forests, began in 1897 with passage of the Organic Administration Act. One of the defined purposes for which forest lands were set aside from settlement was “securing favorable conditions of water flow” (Glasser, 2007). The intrinsic and aesthetic human needs for forests and water, with working ecological systems of natural resistance to erosion and soil loss demonstrate that “Trees Are the Answer” and watershed management is complimentary to sustainable active forest management. Inventory and Monitoring gives all land management agencies critical information, GIS layers, and location details to both quantify and characterize the landscape. The National Park Service has supported a GIS enabled vegetation mapping collection since 1994 when it teamed up with ESRI and the Nature Conservancy to map 5 prototype Parks. Successes include completed mapping of 10 million acres, 8.5 million acres underway in 2019, 12 million acres of projects to yet to complete. The National Park Service identified a critical need for future vegetation data. What data, when, and at what scale are critical inventory elements. The synthesis of these data with potential water improvements, wildlife habitat, and fuels concerns are active and needed management decision making elements. These serve public need and healthy forests too. Presented by Karl Brown, US National Park Service, at the 2019 SAF National Convention, Louisville, KY.