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Vegetation Simulation and Our Changing World by Corbin Newman, Director of Forest Management, National Forest System.

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Presentation on theme: "Vegetation Simulation and Our Changing World by Corbin Newman, Director of Forest Management, National Forest System."— Presentation transcript:

1 Vegetation Simulation and Our Changing World by Corbin Newman, Director of Forest Management, National Forest System

2 A Little Context and Background Prior to the 1990s, a primary focus of vegetation mgmt on National Forest System was commodity production While production of goods is still important, the restoration of ecosystem function and resiliency has gained primacy in the last 20 years This is evidenced by a decline of more than 80% in NFS timber production since the late1980s The current focus by the Forest Service on ecological restoration reflect both changing public values, and the ecological conditions that currently exist on NFS lands

3 Ecosystem Restoration means Creating conditions within the ecosystem that restores its health and resiliency to natural forces and disturbances that affect it while meeting societal needs. It does not mean………. restoring it to some predetermined point in time.

4 The shift from commodity production to restoring resiliency of ecosystem has occurred in the context of: A decade long drought in the parts of the West A decade long drought in the parts of the West A multi-decade increase in forest density A multi-decade increase in forest density Increased incidents of fire, insects and disease Increased incidents of fire, insects and disease An unprecedented expansion of residential developments into the wildland An unprecedented expansion of residential developments into the wildland Increasing concern over the effects of climate change on forests Increasing concern over the effects of climate change on forests

5 The increase in forest density in many parts of the country has been in progress since the late 19 th Century

6 South Fork Teton River Lewis & Clark NF, MT

7 There has been a major shift in fire regime from low to high severity

8 Forest growth greatly exceeds removals on NFS lands in the Interior West

9 National Fire Plan

10 Western Pine Bark Beetle Damage -- Prescott National Forest, Arizona When dense forests combine with extended drought, the ecological stress sets the stage for increased insect epidemics and wildfire

11 At the same time, people have been moving to forests and shrub lands in record numbers

12 There has been a compelling political call to action There has been a compelling political call to action

13 National Fire Plan 2000 Fire Fighting Rehab and Restoration Hazardous Fuel Reduction Community Assistance Accountability Healthy Forests Initiative (HFI) 2002 Expedite priority fuels reduction and healthy forest restoration. New Categorical Exclusions Stewardship Authority Healthy Forests Initiative (HFI) 2002 Expedite priority fuels reduction and healthy forest restoration. New Categorical Exclusions Stewardship Authority Wildland Fire Leadership Council (WFLC) Oversight Accountability Consistency across DOI/FS Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA) 2003 (Title 1 Only) Accelerate hazardous fuels reduction on NFS/BLM lands New authorities to expedite Environmental Analysis Process Community Wildfire Protection Plans Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA) 2003 (Title 1 Only) Accelerate hazardous fuels reduction on NFS/BLM lands New authorities to expedite Environmental Analysis Process Community Wildfire Protection Plans 2000 Fire Policy Restoring Healthy Forest and Grassland Ecosystems Bringing It All Together 10-Year Comprehensive Strategy / Implementation Plan 2002 To restore and maintain fire adaptive ecosystems Priority setting Collaboration Accountability

14 The Forest Service Responded With dramatically increased Forest fuels treatment Increase of forest vegetation treatments focused on density management A robust Forest Health Protection program on federal and non-federal lands

15 A major strategy of National Forest management has been to focus on ecosystem restoration and fuels treatment BeforeTreatment AfterTreatment

16 Pearson Natural Area Restoration Study – Near Flagstaff, Arizona The last natural fire occurred in 1876 Prior to 1876, low intensity surface fires burned through the area on a 2-4 yr intervalPrior to 1876, low intensity surface fires burned through the area on a 2-4 yr interval In 1876 there were an average of 23 trees per acreIn 1876 there were an average of 23 trees per acre Prior to thinning the area averaged 1170 trees per acrePrior to thinning the area averaged 1170 trees per acre Slide from W. Covington

17 Restoration thinning in left 60 trees per acre, (latillas for adobe home construction and 5 tons per acre of slash or ten 18-wheel dump trucks/acre) After Restoration Slide from W. Covington

18 C UnthinnedThinned Wind Cone Fire Blacks Mountain Exp Forest September 2002

19 A.No treatment B.Thinned – No RxBurn C.Thinned with RxBurn After Cone Fire A B: B: Thinned – No RxBurn C: C: Thinned with RxBurn

20 So what does all this mean to vegetation modeling? Everything

21 Key Socio-Political Forces are Shifting There is a broader recognition of climate change and the need for action to address it There is a renewed drive to find mechanisms for energy independence with bio-energy being a big part of it The value of the ecosystem services provided by forests has increased, with carbon sequestration leading the way There is growing recognition of the need to actively manage NFS lands to restore and protect important ecosystem services

22 Today More Than Ever We Need What FVS Delivers Planners need ways to analyze alternative futures Decision makers need to understand effects of actions they contemplate Collaborative groups need to explore common ground around treatments Land management agencies need tools to help understand the consequences of policies they consider

23 30 Years of Relevance Grown to meet the needs of our field practitioners Evolved to address the emerging forces affecting Forest growth Adapted to project measurements of newly important forest characteristics such as carbon sequestration And most importantly … a dedication to the user

24 Thank You


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