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The Healthy Forests Initiative and Healthy Forests Restoration Act
Interim Field Guide

Title VI—Miscellaneous

This title establishes a Forest Stands Inventory and Monitoring Program to improve the detection of environmental threats and the responses to them. Section 601(a) instructs the Secretary of Agriculture to carry out a program to monitor forest stands on NFS lands and private lands (with landowner consent), authorizing $5 million for each fiscal year from 2004 through 2008 to implement the program. Section 601(b) describes the issues to be addressed by this program:

  • Early detection, identification, and assessment of environ­mental threats (including insects, disease, invasive species, fire, weather-related risks, and other episodic events)

  • Loss or degradation of forests

  • Degradation of the quality of forest stands caused by inadequate forest-regeneration practices

  • Quantification of carbon-uptake rates

  • Management practices that focus on preventing further forest degradation

As part of the program, Section 601(9)(c) requires the Secretary of Agriculture to develop a comprehensive “early warning system” that will enable resource managers to better:

  • Isolate and treat a threat before the threat gets out of control

  • Prevent epidemics, such as the American chestnut blight in the first half of the 20th Century, that could be environmentally and economically devastating to forests

Several existing USDA Forest Service programs are already addressing the issues in Section 601(b). These programs will be reviewed to determine the degree to which they meet the requirements of Title VI. Some of these programs are described below.

North American Exotic Forest Pest Information System

Forest insect and disease organisms introduced from other continents (exotic forest pests) pose an increasing threat to the forests of North America. Information on management of these pests often is not available readily to pest management specialists, regulatory officers, research scientists, and the general public. The Exotic Forest Pest Information System for North America (EXFOR) collects hard-to-find information assessing an exotic forest insect or pathogen’s risk of establishment and spread and on its management. EXFOR is a scientifically based Internet database including information on more than 100 exotic insect pests and disease pathogens. This information, which enables resource managers to design rapid detection systems for specific exotic organisms, is available at: http://www.fs.fed.us/foresthealth/briefs/EXFOR_database%20.htm.

Forest Health Protection

The Forest Health Protection (FHP) staff works to protect America’s forest and tree resources from damaging outbreaks of forest insects, pathogens, and invasive plants. FHP does this by providing survey and monitoring information, and technical and financial assistance to prevent, suppress, and control outbreaks of forest pests to Federal, State, and private resource managers. FHP also helps to maintain, enhance, and restore healthy forest conditions. FHP works in partnership with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and State agencies to detect and eradicate newly introduced exotic organisms. Information on FHP is available at: http://www.fs.fed.us/foresthealth/briefs/What_we_do_8_03.pdf and http://www.fs.fed.us/foresthealth.

Rapid Pest Detection Program

This program is designed to develop the framework for and implement a national interagency detection, monitoring, and response system for nonnative invasive species. Since 2001, the Exotic Pest Rapid Detection Team has coordinated pilot tests for the detection of nonnative bark beetles and nun moths throughout the United States. The team’s objective is to develop and test a prototype national survey, identify potential exotic pests and likely pathways of introduction and spread, identify detection and management guidelines, detect and monitor new introductions at selected high-risk sites, develop recommendations to address gaps in detection protocols and taxonomic resources, and use the information collected to set agency protocols and priorities (http://www.fs.fed.us/foresthealth/briefs/Rapid_dect_response_prg.htm).

Pest Suppression

The Pest Suppression Program of the FHP focuses on implementing efficient and effective treatments to reduce the impacts of forest pests. Forest health management specialists evaluate the risk for tree mortality and determine prevention, suppression, maintenance, and restoration treatments based on results of risk evaluations and surveys. Aerial and ground surveys for insects and diseases are conducted in areas of risk. The program also supports the agency initiative and focus items addressing invasive species on Federal and Tribal lands (http://www.fs.fed.us/foresthealth/forest_health_management.shtml).

Forest Health Monitoring

Forest Health Monitoring is a National program designed to determine the status, changes, and trends annually in indicators of forest condition. The monitoring program uses data from ground plots and surveys, aerial surveys, and other biotic and abiotic data sources and develops analytical approaches to address forest health issues that affect the sustainability of forest ecosystems. Forest Health Monitoring covers all forested lands through a partnership involving USDA Forest Service, State foresters, and other State and Federal agencies and academic groups. Major activities include:

  • Detection Monitoring—Nationally standardized aerial and ground surveys to evaluate status and change in the condition of forest ecosystems

  • Evaluation Monitoring—Projects to determine the extent, severity, and causes of undesirable changes in forest health identified through detection monitoring

  • Intensive Site Monitoring—To enhance understanding of cause-and-effect relationships

  • Research on Monitoring Techniques—To develop or improve indicators, monitoring systems, and analytical techniques

  • Analysis and Reporting—Synthesis of information from various data sources to produce reports on status and change in forest health at National, regional, and State levels (http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/fhm/).

Forest Inventory and Analysis

Forest Inventory and Analysis is the Nation’s forest census. Forest Inventory and Analysis collects, analyzes, and reports information on status and trends, including:

  • Forest areas and locations

  • Species composition, size distribution, and health of forests

  • Growth, mortality, and removals by harvesting

  • Wood production and utilization rates, by various products

  • Forest land ownership

  • Various measures of forest health and sustainability

The program includes information relating to tree crown condition, lichen community composition, soils, ozone indicator plants, vegetative diversity, and coarse woody debris. The program is managed by USDA Forest Service Research and Development in cooperation with State and Private Forestry, the National Forest System, and the National Association of State Foresters. The program covers all public and private forest lands in the United States. The program is implemented in cooperation with a variety of partners, including State forestry agencies and private landowners who grant access to their lands for data collection (http://fia.fs.fed.us).

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