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Environment and People

Projects

ForSys is a flexible platform for exploring landscape management scenarios and optimizing decisions in terms of where and how to achieve landscape restoration and fuel management goals. The model is spatially explicit and uses multi-criteria prioritization and optimization created to rapidly design fuel treatment and restoration scenarios. The program evolved from the Landscape Treatment Designer used in prior studies.
The USDA Forest Service Scenario Investment Planning Platform was developed by Forest Service Research & Development to help the agency modernize its approach to prioritizing land management investments. 
The National Ecosystem Services Strategy Team collaboratively develops and integrates ecosystem services into Forest Service programs, policies, and operations. This work elevates the agency mission by identifying the breadth of benefits that forests and grasslands provide, analyzing the impacts of our decisions on these benefits, and inviting a diverse set of partners to ensure their sustained delivery.
Firesheds are a way to delineate where fires ignite and are likely to, or not to, spread to communities and expose buildings. The fireshed map shows the source of exposure to fire. The fireshed registry is the geospatial portal that portrays the past, present, and future in terms of agency investments in forest and fuel management in relation to historical and predicted fire activity.   
The National Forest Climate Change Maps project was developed to meet the need of National Forest managers for information on projected climate changes at a scale relevant to decision making processes, including Forest Plans.  The maps use state-of-the-art science and are available for every National Forest in the contiguous United States with relevant data coverage. Currently, the map sets include variables related to precipitation, air temperature, snow (including April 1 snow-water equivalent (SWE) and snow residence time), and stream flow.
One of the risks posed to fire response by COVID-19 is rapid outbreak of infection in a traditional large fire camp, where high-density living and working conditions, limited hygiene, and a transient workforce can create the ideal conditions for the spread of disease. In response, members of the USDA Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) Team, along with experts in the fields of epidemiological modeling and fire operations, have prepared a dynamic report that models the potential for COVID-19 spread in fire camp. Results are intended to be illustrative rather than predictive, are designed to support identification of suitable and effective risk mitigation measures, and will be updated over time in response to new information.
Northern Rockies managers and scientists are collaborating in a nation-wide silvicultural study to develop adaptive practices that support the endurance of these iconic forests under changing climate.
Open oak and pine forests, which typically have a treed overstory and grasslands understory, historically were abundant across the United States. Agency investment in large-scale restoration programs begs the question: Do changes of ecological processes follow restoration of structure? 
Using structured decision making (SDM) can change how resource managers make decisions by separating the clinical problem analysis from the value based decision process. In a natural resource management setting, SDM necessitates making decisions based on clearly articulated objectives, recognizing scientific prediction in decisions, addressing uncertainty explicitly, and responding with transparency towards societal values in decision making. When used as an overarching framework, natural resource managers can be better equipped to identify, critique, and discuss sources and implications of uncertainty and thus improve decision-making.
There is widespread interest in understanding the effectiveness of fuel treatments in mitigating the trajectory of wildfire suppression costs and how their effectiveness and longevity can be extended over large areas and landscapes. To date, there have been several studies that used a modeling approach to evaluate fuel treatment effectiveness at the landscape scale. However, empirical studies at this scale are rare because landscape-scale fuel treatment strategies have not been fully implemented or wildfires have not burned through implemented landscape fuel treatments. A thorough evaluation of what is currently available in the literature and lessons learned from forest and rangeland managers has not yet been conducted.

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