US Forest Service Research & Development
Contact Information
  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Presentation at a workshop on Cameroon's national forest monitoring system

Sara A. Goeking

Biological Scientist
507 25th Street
United States

Phone: 801-625-5193
Contact Sara A. Goeking

Current Research

As a member of the RMRS-FIA Analysis Team, I am working to develop more spatially explicit analyses and novel applications of FIA data that will enhance our understanding of forest dynamics such as mortality, disturbance, and land use/land cover change. A tremendous strength of the FIA dataset is the size and spatial representativeness of the sample, with about 35,000 forested plots in the Interior West states. My current work consists of these major projects:

  • Comparison of historical vs. current forest conditions - To understand how forests have changed over the recent decades and continue to change, I am currently developing methods for comparing historical (periodic) versus current (annual) forest inventories, with a focus on differences among various tree species, forest types, and landowner groups.
  • Whitebark pine regeneration and distribution - This project capitalizes on the spatial and temporal representativeness of the FIA dataset, which indicates that the distribution of whitebark pines is far more widespread among mixed-composition stands than in pure whitebark pine stands.
  • Fire effects - Several FIA analysts are collaborating to quantify the effects of fire on basal area among various forest types.
  • Riparian forests - Another study is a collaboration with USFS partners to investigate techniques for alternative resource inventories such as riparian forests and nonforest lands.
  • International outreach and tech transfer - In addition to my ongoing work with FIA data, I periodically serve temporary assignments with USFS International Programs. I provide technical assistance to other countries in the areas of data quality assurance (QA/QC), definition of forest monitoring objectives, field data collection, and analysis/reporting. Thus far I have worked with governmental officials and forest stakeholders in Colombia and Cameroon during the development of those countries' national forest monitoring programs.
  • Research Interests

    I am interested in anything geospatial, because nearly all ecological processes vary spatially across the landscape. I seek to apply modelling and remote sensing approaches that can expand our inventory beyond forest land to areas such as rangeland and riparian areas in the semi-arid Interior West.

    Past Research

    I initially came to FIA as a field crew leader. My recent work with the RMRS-FIA Data Collection Team involved streamlining and expanding the scope of FIA Pre-field workflows so that we now collect basic land use, land cover, and tree canopy cover data on all FIA plots. Prior to joining FIA, most of my work focused on spatial analysis of riparian vegetation and sandbar storage in the Colorado River basin, and analysis of multi-temporal surveys and historical air photos to quantify past and current responses to hydroelectric flow regulation in a historical context.

    Why This Research is Important

    Forest managers, stakeholders, and the general public rely on good science to provide high-quality data on the condition and trends in forests across all lands, and FIA provides that information. The spatial and temporal intensity of FIA's plots allow us to provide forest information that is statistically robust and representative at the landscape level. As an FIA analyst, I strive to continually develop innovative analyses that are relevant to land managers and other scientists. FIA functions as the nation's forest census by collecting mountains of data, and FIA analysts need to paint those mountains of data as an information landscape that can be easily seen and interpreted by our customers.


    • Utah State University, Environmental Studies and Plant Science , 1996
    • Utah State University, Forest Ecology , 2003

    Professional Organizations

    • Society of American Foresters, Member (2010 - Current)

    Featured Publications & Products


    Research Highlights


    Annual Inventory of New Mexico's Forests More Accurate Thanks to Stratification Key

    The Forest Inventory and Analysis Program must provide unbiased estimates of forest area. An accurate baseline of New Mexico's forests and futu ...


    Comprehensive Inventory of Forest Health Trends in New Mexico

    The public, forest managers, and scientists now have the most comprehensive inventory of forest health trends in New Mexico's history. The repor ...


    Last updated on : 10/05/2015