Partnerships Produce High-resolution Land Cover Maps of the Central Plains
Over 200 million trees were planted under the auspices of the Prairie States Forestry program from 1935 to 1942 in a corridor stretching from Texas to North Dakota. Windbreaks are now a common feature on the landscape serving critical functions such as protection from wind erosion and carbon sequestration. The windbreaks and riparian corridors common in agricultural landscapes are not considered to be forest land due to their narrow configurations. In response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Strategic Agroforestry Framework, the Forest Inventory & Analysis (FIA) program at the Northern Research Station (NRS-FIA) and the National Agroforestry Center (NAC) have been developing techniques for high-resolution land cover mapping to fill a monitoring role for these tree resources. In 2016, official agreements were established with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Center for Advanced Land Management Information Technologies and Kansas State University-Kansas Forest Service to work jointly on land cover mapping. Forest Service personnel from NRS-FIA and NAC developed operational mapping methods and are transferring the technology via training, documentation, and custom geographic information systems (GIS) toolkits to the partner institutions. A series of county-level datasets for Nebraska and Kansas will be released in late 2016.