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    Author(s): Ronald E. McRoberts; Lisa G. Mahal; Mary A. Carr; Ralph J. Alig; Sara J. Comas; David M. Theobald; Amanda Cundiff
    Date: 2009
    Source: Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-795. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 74 p.
    Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)
    Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
    PDF: View PDF  (5.02 MB)


    Over half (56 percent) of America’s forests are privately owned and managed and provide a vast array of public goods and services, such as clean water, timber, wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities. These important public benefits are being affected by increased housing density in urban as well as rural areas across the country. The Forests on the Edge project, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, seeks to improve our understanding of where across the country housing density increases, as well as other threats, might affect these critical goods and services. For this study, we map and rank watersheds across the conterminous United States to analyze the relative contributions of private forest land to water quality, timber volume, at-risk species habitat, and interior forest. In addition, we rank watersheds according to the pressures on private forest contributions from increased housing density, wildfire, insect pests and diseases, and air pollution. Results indicate that private forest land contributions to forest cover, clean water, and timber volume are greatest in the East, but are also important in many Western watersheds. Private forests making substantial contributions to interior forest and at-risk species are more uniformly distributed across the country. Development pressures on these contributions are concentrated in the Eastern United States but are also found in the north-central region, parts of the West and Southwest, and the Pacific Northwest; nationwide, more than 57 million acres of rural forest land are projected to experience a substantial increase in housing density from 2000 to 2030. Private forests in both the Eastern and Western United States are under pressure from insect pests and diseases. The bulk of private forests most susceptible to wildfire are located in the West and parts of the Southeast. Lastly, ozone pollution affecting private forests is localized in California and several areas of the East.

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    Stein, Susan M.; McRoberts, Ronald E.; Mahal, Lisa G.; Carr, Mary A.; Alig, Ralph J.; Comas, Sara J.; Theobald, David M.; Cundiff, Amanda. 2009. Private forests, public benefits: increased housing density and other pressures on private forest contributions. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-795. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 74 p.


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    Private forest, housing density, ecosystem services, water quality, at-risk species, interior forest, wildfire, insect pests, diseases, ozone.

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