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Individual Highlight

New tool helps in rapid forest health assessment to aid forest restoration

Photo of Fremont-Winema National Forest. Fremont-Winema National Forest. Snapshot : Tool pre-loads maps of trees in poor health to iPads for field verification and use.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Grulke, Nancy E. 
Research Location : Fremont-Winema National Forest; Oregon
Research Station : Pacific Northwest Research Station (PNW)
Year : 2017
Highlight ID : 1370


Fuels-reduction treatments are an opportune time to remove trees in poor health and significantly increase the proportion of high vigor trees remaining in the stand after treatment. Having a tool that helps identify clusters of trees in poor health could help prioritize restoration activities the following year and reduce the probability of a landscape-level insect outbreak. The Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center (WWETAC) collaborated with The Nature Conservancy and the Fremont-Winema National Forest to develop such a tool. Researchers developed the rapid assessment tool to identify and prioritize removal of western yellow pine in poor health. It is based on canopy and whole-tree attributes that can be assessed within a minute on the ground. It is scalable to the landscape-level by correlating ground-based attributes to spectral signatures developed for two tree health classes (poor, and average or above average) from high-resolution remote sensing. This approach also can be used to assess the effect of different fuels treatments on stand health through time in stands dominated by western yellow pines (ponderosa pine, Jeffrey pine, washoe pine). The Chemult and Silver Lake Ranger Districts the Fremont-Winema National Forest are very interested in using the iPad-based tool to identify and locate trees in poor health.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Fremont-Winema National Forest
  • The Nature Conservancy