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Engineering > Technology & Development

Technology & Development

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The Forest Service operates two Technology and Development (T&D) centers aimed at applying technology and equipment to improve business practices and at keeping employees safe while working in a forest environment. The T&D centers are located in San Dimas, CA, and Missoula, MT. Their primary purpose is support of Forest Service internal activities; therefore, they provide products and services exclusively to Forest Service employees and cooperating agencies. Currently, T&D projects relate to fire and aviation management, engineering (facilities, transportation, environmental), forest management, reforestation, nurseries, recreation, safety and health, forest health protection, watershed and air management, explosives, global positioning systems, posters and signs, inventory and monitoring and Forest Service uniforms.

Since 1981, the T&D centers have been detached units of the engineering staff in the Forest Service's Washington Office. Essentially, they are small professional/technical units with expertise represented in disciplines such as civil, mechanical, aerospace, electronic, and logging engineering; and recreation, forestry, and social science. Equipment specialists, engineering technicians, and publications and other personnel also provide technical and administrative support to the T&D centers. In addition, some project work is accomplished through associate staff (Forest Service employees on other units), professional services contracts, and agreements with other agencies.

The T&D Program uses technology to solve resource management problems having national significance in partnership with other Federal, State, and international agencies; private industry; academia; and consultants. The T&D program was born out of need and has expanded over the years from an emphasis on fire-related development to incorporate all Forest Service programs. As the Forest Service changes to incorporate all aspects of its mission ("Caring for the Land and Serving People"), the T&D Program is prepared to continue the development of necessary technology, equipment, and information to provide the best scientific knowledge for making decisions in the management of resources.

T&D History

The Forest Service Technology and Development (formerly Equipment Development and Testing) Program began shortly after World War II. Its mission is:

The systematic application of scientific knowledge to create new or substantially improved equipment, systems, materials, processes, techniques, and procedures to meet the objectives of advanced forest management and utilization.

The centers started with a focus on fire and aviation management. The southern California center spearheaded an effort to standardize fire equipment; the western Montana center concentrated on improving equipment for parachuting firefighters and their cargo onto the perimeter of wildland fires. In 1961, the decision was made to broaden the charter of both centers to consider all national forest problems. In October 1987, the name was changed from "Equipment Development and Testing" to "Technology and Development (T&D) Program" because this more accurately described the mission. As resource management became more complex, the problems the centers were asked to solve became more diverse, and solutions were not always equipment-oriented.

The Missoula Technology and Development Center


In the late 1940's, a small group started development activities for smokejumper and cargo dropping in the Northern Region, headquartered in Missoula, Montana. Under this program, regular aircraft patrols were used to detect fire, and methods were developed to parachute firefighters and supplies to remote fires. These basic innovations are still in use today. In 1953--largely because of the Northern Region's success in the use of aircraft for fighting forest fires--the Missoula Aerial Equipment Development Center was established.

design graphic Exterior photo of the new Missoula Technology and Development Center in Missoula, Montana. design graphic
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This center's mission was to develop equipment for air operations throughout the Forest Service. Although designated primarily for general aerial development work, the Missoula center was frequently assigned work in other fields. In 1959, the Missoula center was expanded to include development for many land management activities in the Northwest.

The San Dimas Technology and Development Center

  This center was originally established in 1945 at Arcadia, CA, as the Arcadia Fire Equipment Development Center. The center resulted from the consolidation of all Forest Service fire equipment problem-solving efforts into a "laboratory sufficient to serve the fire control requirements of the Western Regions." The southern California site was selected because of the frequent fire activity in the area, the evolving industrial and academic centers, and an available Forest Service facility in Los Angeles County.   Exterior photo of the San Dimas Technology and Development Center in San Dimas, California. design graphic

Late in the 1940's, a conference of Forest Service range management administrators and researchers recognized that a major effort was needed to adapt or develop suitable equipment for range seeding and other improvements. Thus, range became the second "sponsor" of the program and the center's name was changed to the Arcadia Equipment Development Center.

In 1965, a new facility (replacing the Arcadia facility and specifically designed and constructed for the equipment development activity) was built at San Dimas, CA.

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For information about publications, please contact:  
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Phone: (909) 599-1267 x239
San Dimas Technology and Development Center (SDTDC)
444 East Bonita Ave.
San Dimas, CA 91773-3198
Phone: 909-599-1267
Fax: 909-592-2309

Missoula Technology and Development Center (MTDC)
5785 Hwy 10 W
Missoula, MT 59808
Phone: 406-329-3900
Fax: 406-329-3719

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