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Study helps managers identify regions with multiple threat potential, including wildfires
Date:6/12/2013

PORTLAND, Ore. June 12, 2013. A recent study in the Journal of Forestry now offers managers a tool to help them identify regions exposed to multiple forest threats. The tool uses a novel 15-mile radius neighborhood analysis to highlight locations where threats are more concentrated relative to other areas, and identifies where multiple threats may intersect. It is a technique that may have never been used before to describe forest threats, according to the researchers.

"Policymakers and managers often rely on maps showing where forest threats are most prevalent; they then assess these threats in relation to the forest resources most valued by the public," explains Jeff Kline, the study's lead author and a research forester at the Forest Service's Pacific Northwest (PNW) Research Station. "Management priorities are then made based on this information. We have devised a way to combine and display forest threat data at its appropriate spatial scale and in a way that transcends political boundaries, using readily available GIS [geographic information system] analytical tools."

"To our knowledge, this is the first time that data describing different threats have been displayed in this manner," adds co-lead and research ecologist, Becky Kerns, "Our approach recognizes that a single point mapped as potentially highly vulnerable to a threat may not be all that important from a regional or national planning perspective. What is important is the concentration of threats within a defined and appropriate spatial scale of interest."

The study, which began in 2008, examines spatial data characterizing wildfire, insects and disease, and urban and exurban development in the northwestern United States. It covered 488,000 square miles in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming, using a novel 15-mile radius neighborhood analysis to highlight locations where threat of a given disturbance may be more concentrated relative to other areas
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Contact: Sherri Richardson-Dodge
srichardsondodge@fs.fed.us
503-808-2137
USDA Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Research Station
Source:Eurekalert

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