Forests at a Glance…
The Forest Resource
In 1805, Lewis and Clark with the Corps of Discovery made the first scientific accounts of the flora and fauna of this remarkable land. Today Montana is known as "Big Sky" country, and its forests are a reflection of these sweeping diverse landscapes. West of the continental divide warm and moist Pacific air masses create lush, species-rich forests. East of the divide a colder and drier climate favors relatively sparser, more homogenous forests. Because Montana forests have high recreational, scenic, habitat, watershed and timber values, it is important to track their condition. Inventory and monitoring efforts conducted by USDA Forest Service present a systematic compilation of forest statistics of the state.

For example, the graph here presents a breakdown of forest cover, or forest type, on all land ownerships from the most recent comprehensive Forest Inventory and Analysis Database (FIADB) available for Montana’s forest resource completed in 2001 (FIADB cycle 1). This data incorporates Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) work on all lands including National Forest System (NFS) lands, but does not include information on reserved lands outside the NFS (except for Yellowstone National Park). A report titled Montana's Forest Resources, 1993, presents a summary of the most recent inventory data published for Montana's forest lands. In 2003, Annual Inventories began in the state using a new sampling design called the mapped plot design.

Plot Status and Current Activity

Field crews collect data on Forest Inventory plots and Forest Health plots across Montana annually. The FIA method consists of 3 inventory phases: a remotely sensed phase (P1) and 2 field phases (P2 and P3). Field work begins in May and proceeds into the fall as plots are completed or weather permits. After five years of annual data have been collected, the first 5–year comprehensive report on Montana forests will be published.
Number of Plots by Plot Type
Annually, there are on average 550 Phase 2 plots and 34 Phase 3 plots in Montana. Phase 3 plots are a subset of P2 plots. In addition to the variables taken on P2 plots, P3 plots collect additional data with an emphasis on forest health.
In addition to this site, other information related to Montana forest conditions may be found on the websites of federal and state cooperators. Click on the icons below to see what our partners are up to…
USDA Forest Service in Montana
Data and Table Access
You may find standardized summary tables by going to - Annual Tables. Customized data summaries are available through FIA data retrieval systems.
Other Montana Reports
A record of previous statewide reporting efforts is shown in the table below. Note that other special reports, brochures, and data tables using FIA data, but not shown in the table, can be found in a comprehensive list at the Montana’s Forest Resources link.
Previous Statewide Reports
Title / Link Reference Number *
1993 1989 Montana's Forest Resources INT-RB–81
2001 NA Montana's Forest Products Industry A descriptive analysis, 1969-2000 NA
1985 1980 Montana's Forests INT-RB–38
1952 1949 Forest Resources of Montana Forest Resources Report No. 5
* USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station publication numbers are shown here. Over the years the name of the Research Station has changed. Previously it was named the Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station or the Intermountain Research Station, hence the initials INT in the report number. The initial 1952 report here was published by the Northern Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, a precursor to INT.
Inventory and Monitoring Information
For specific questions related to field procedures, current and past field manuals are available online. These manuals describe the details of plot establishment and description, forest inventory methods, and procedures used for each forest health indicator. Websites for forest health indicators give rationale for the indicator, as well as access to data, analytical procedures, and related publications.

For clients with a general interest in inventory and monitoring work elsewhere, we have compiled a short list of Inventory and Monitoring On the Web. This list comprises agencies and entities with related interests in forest monitoring at various geographic scales, both within the U.S. and internationally, plus some recommended publications for those with a more technical interest in this subject.

Conner, R.C.; O'Brien, R.A. 1993. Montana's Forest Resources. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Resource Bulletin INT-81.

Keegan,III C.E.; Gebert, K.M.; Chase, A.L.; Morgan, T.A.; Bodmer, S.E.; Van Hooser, D.D. 2001. Montana's Forest Products Industry A Descriptive Analysis, 1969-2000. BBER, The University of Montana-Missoula.

Green, A.W.; O'Brien, R.A.; Schaefer, J.C. 1985. Montana's Forests. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Resource Bulletin INT-38.

Hutchinson, S.B.; Kemp, P.D. 1952. Forest Resources of Montana. USDA Forest Service, Northern Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Forest Resource Report No.5.

Interior West Forest Inventory and Analysis
Michael Wilson, Program Manager
USDA Forest Service
507 25th St.
Ogden, Utah 84401
(801) 625-5407