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Forest Service Unveils Web Application Identifying At-Risk Forests

The Forest Health Advisory System screenshot

Using pest and tree photos, tables, and interactive maps, the Forest Health Advisory System provides vital information on future risks to forests across our nation. (U.S. Forest Service)

As our nation’s forests grow older and denser they are at greater risk of attack by pests, which can devastate some of more cherished national wildlands. Healthy forests not only provide a beautiful setting for our outdoor activities, they are at lower risk for catastrophic wild fires, and are more resilient to changes in climate and to insect and disease attack.

To address myriad issues facing our nation’s aging landscapes, the U.S. Forest Service has developed the Forest Health Advisory System, a web-based application that highlights potential future activity of more than 40 major forest pests and pathogens across 1.2 billion acres of treed lands.

“With the knowledge gained from this new application, we can be proactive about protecting and restoring our forests,” said Jim Hubbard, deputy chief for State and Private Forestry, the agency division that provides technical and financial assistance to landowners and resource managers to help sustain public and private forests. “By limiting the negative impacts of invasive and native forest pests, we can ensure our nation’s forests for future generations.”

The Forest Health Advisory System welcome screenshot

Through a simple web interface, you can start exploring forest health in places of interest to you such as national forests and national parks. (U.S. Forest Service)

Information provided through the application is summarized by National Forest, National Park, U.S. Fish and Wildlife unit, and Tribal Lands. The information is designed to support information sharing and coordinated prevention and suppression activities for forest pest management across Federal agencies.

Loss of forest cover can have far-reaching affects to the full range of natural, cultural, and visitor services on public lands. In fact, national forests and parks already have lost iconic species such as American chestnut due to introduced forest pests, and are currently losing other iconic trees, such as flowering dogwood and hemlock in our Eastern forests and whitebark pine in our Western wildlands.

An American chestnut seedling

An American chestnut seedling is part of a national effort to restore the trees to eastern woodlands. The U.S. Forest Service developed an online application that highlights activities of major forest pests so that woodland owners can protect and restore their forests. While American chestnut trees can be found in the United States, many of them are threatened by blight and are not producing nuts. (Courtesy The American Chestnut Foundation)

3 Responses to “Forest Service Unveils Web Application Identifying At-Risk Forests”

  1. Trenor Scott says:

    On your map of the Siskiyou NF the fire hazard areas do not seem to be reflective of the material in the Biscuit Fire Recovery, Vol. 1 – Crown Fire Potential – Map II-3 2013 & 2016.
    The posted map appears to show “Non-Burnable Land inside the Biscuit Fire whereas the maps cited above show either low crown fire potential (2013) or high crown fire potential in 2016. This area has a history of major fires which has been enhanced by the lack of removal of the heavy fuel load & snags from these earlier events. Wilderness classification
    has contributed to this condition, although litigation prevented most of the possible salvage of the 2002 Biscuit Fire even in the surrounding area.

  2. Ben [USDA Moderator] says:

    @Trenor – thank you for pointing this out. Your keen eye actually showed us we had a bit of an error in our color overlays. What appears to be a fire layer is actually an area that does not have any insect and disease risk. We are working to correct our overlay colors and the legend and hope to update the map soon.

  3. Ben [USDA Moderator] says:

    @Trenor Scott – we wanted to let you know that we have worked hard to resolve the problem you pointed out in the Forest Health Advisory System. We believe the map is better in part to your comments. Thank you!

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