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Biological and
Physical Resources

Updated: 11/24/2015

Charter Focus Areas


Watershed, Stream, Riparian, and Aquatic Habitat Restoration: While much is known about the practices necessary to protect, maintain, and restore watershed processes and services, new tools and techniques are needed to address altered hydrologic and disturbance regimes that will affect forests and watersheds as a result of climate change, land use change, and increased demand for water resources. Pragmatic and applied approaches to river and aquatic restoration are needed that address physical and biological issues associated with fluvial systems in an integrated manner.

Condition, Trend, and Effectiveness Monitoring of Watershed, Channel, Fisheries, Aquatic Habitat, and Riparian Vegetation: Objectives of Forest Service management will continue to focus on ecosystem restoration. Effective watershed and aquatic ecosystem restoration is founded on the ability to identify the status and trend of watershed condition, channel characteristics, aquatic habitat, floodplain characteristics, and riparian habitat, and to understand how they are impacted and respond to management actions. We will continue to evaluate and devise approaches that forests and grasslands, and regions can use to more effectively measure and describe current conditions and trends and to determine whether any observed trends are affected by management actions. This is a key component of the agency’s plans for land and resource management under the planning rule.

Environmental Flows and Water Resource Management: There is a critical need to determine the quantity, quality, and timing of water needed for stream and other aquatic ecosystems to maintain their physical and biological processes while providing for human demands on the water supply. Therefore, improved techniques must be developed for quantifying the environmental flow regimes needed to maintain channel, aquatic and riparian resources on National Forests and Grasslands. These technical tools have to meet requirements of the guiding statutes described above, and the resultant regulations and policy implementing those statutes, for application to water resource planning and to address a variety of water resource management issues.

Technology Development, Transfer and Application: Organizational and management effectiveness requires capturing the benefits of rapidly evolving technology, and ensuring managers have access to the best available science. An essential part of the Unit is to develop reliable, effective, low-cost, time-efficient, and scientifically sound technologies for acquiring data or modeling environmental processes to document and measure changes in channel morphology, riparian zones, aquatic habitat, and watershed characteristics.

Technical Support and Training: Field units need expert technical support and consultation on technical issues related to environmental flows, watershed processes and aquatic ecology, either directly from the Center’s staff or by referral to scientists. Identifying critical training needs and designing, developing and implementing effective training programs for field specialists, staff and line officers, will remain a priority for the Technical Unit.

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