Sustain Our Nation's Forests and Grasslands

Boundary Management Staff from across the country head to Michigan for pilot project

FS employee cutting tree with chainsaw
Nick Devito, Region 1, Idaho Panhandle National Forest, putting a face cut into a double sugar maple tree that needed to be removed because it was on the property boundary. USDA Forest Service photo.

MICHIGAN – June 25-28, Twelve Forest Service Land Surveyors and Technicians from across the nation gathered on the Ottawa National Forest for the first ever “Inter-Regional Survey Concept Group” project. As part of the project, they marked eight miles of boundary lines in support of upcoming timber sales in the Drumloid EA, a heavily timbered land. 

Marking and posting boundaries is an essential component to the preparatory work of a timber sale or hazardous fuels reduction project. Without clear boundaries, it is all too likely that timber or fuels will be extracted from non-National Forest System lands.

“It’s imperative that we properly mark these boundaries for upcoming sales before the timber prep crews get into the area to do their layout work,” said Jordan Ketola, Ottawa National Forest land surveyor and project lead. “Not only does it make their job easier, it also creates a visual aid for the adjacent landowner to use for their management or construction, to prevent encroachments onto National Forest System lands.”

In acknowledgement of this essential work and sometimes limited survey staff capacity, the Inter-Regional Survey Concept Group was proposed. When boundary management staff from across the agency work together on a common project, they strengthen interregional resources, gain efficiencies and share knowledge with developing employees.

 “This pilot project was very successful. I am hopeful we can continue these projects in the future, not only to get work done but to build retention and teamwork,” stated Forest Service Chief Land Surveyor Nathan Price.

The hope is that the Concept Group continues into 2020 to work on additional flagship target projects on other Forest Service units.

Established in the Forest Service in 1959 as the “Land Line Location” Program, the currently named “Boundary & Title Management” Program has gone through many iterations since then, but it’s key mission has remained the same: properly establishing and marking “to standard” legally defensible National Forest System boundaries.  Marking “to standard” typically means to clear a path along the boundary line, set posts with “Property Boundary” signs at designated intervals, and blaze and paint the trees along that boundary.

The USDA Forest Service’s Boundary and Title Management program plays a critical supporting role in establishing and maintaining property boundaries that are necessary for any management activity that plans to be adjacent (or near) a boundary.

Group of FS employees getting debriefed after project
End of the day group debriefing and After Action Review at Golden Lake boat launch. USDA Forest Service photo.
Group photo
Inter Regional Survey Concept Group photo at Golden Lake. Standing, from left: Nick Devito, Idaho Panhandle National Forest; John Taivalkoski, Hiawatha National Forest; Nick Petshow and Gifford Pinchot National Forest; Dan Taylor, Flathead National Forest. Kneeling back row, from left: Dave Lawe, Klamath National Forest; Chuck Mowitt, Ottawa National Forest; Jordan Ketola, Hiawatha & Ottawa National Forests; Paul Strand, Ottawa National Forest; Terry Throesch, Mark Twain National Forest. Kneeling front row, from left: Kat Hertling, OttawaNational Forest; Dana Londen, Gifford Pinchot National Forest; Nathan Price, Washington Office. USDA Forest Service photo.