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Threat Assessment

Tree mortality due to a mountain pine beetle outbreak
Kerry Britton / USDA Forest Service
Tree mortality due to a mountain pine beetle outbreak

In 2004, the Healthy Forest Restoration Act mandated the foundation of two Threat Assessment Centers to predict, detect, and assess environmental threats to public and private forests and wildlands. Charters developed in 2005 focus on broad-scale, interacting stresses (e.g., insects, climate change, wildland fire, and urbanization). The Centers serve as catalysts for innovation and collaboration among Forest Service Research, State and Private Forestry, the National Forest System, and external partners, leading to many collaborative projects at the forefront of technology development and application.

Both Centers are jointly funded and run by three branches of the Forest Service: the National Forest System, State and Private Forestry, and Research & Development.

The Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center is located in Prineville, Oregon. Its mission is to generate and integrate knowledge and information to provide credible prediction, early detection, and quantitative assessment of environmental threats to forests in the western United States.

The Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center is located in Asheville, North Carolina. Its website provides a useful resource for cutting edge research, technology, and tools for addressing emerging forest threats in eastern forests.

In addition to the Centers, Forest Service has a long history in both the theory and practice of threat assessment. Forest Service researchers frequently support USDA Animal and Plant Inspection Service decision-making via risk assessments for commodity imports, and contribute expertise to evaluate the risks associated with new pest discoveries in the U.S.