Authored by C. Ringo; Published 2016
Description: Understanding the capacity to reduce wildfire risk and restore dry forests on Western national forests is a key part of prioritizing new accelerated restoration programs initiated by the Forest Service. Although a number of social and biophysical factors influence the ability to implement restoration programs, one key driver is the suite of forest plan land designations and associated management directions. These land use designations and conservation reserves, which are intended to provide an array of ecosystem services (recreation, wildlife, water, timber, research, etc.), were created under the National Forest Management Act. In many cases, they have subsequently been updated to account for legislated protection for threatened and endangered species. Individual land designations have distinct properties in terms of biophysical settings, fire regimes, and a myriad of management constraints intended to conserve landscape resiliency over time. Despite the importance of forest plan designations for assessing restoration capacity, standardized spatial data at regional scales do not exist, making comprehensive regional and national assessments of restoration potentials and priorities difficult. As part of a broader study of restoration potential in the Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Region, we obtained spatial data from existing forest plans and categorized more than 800 different land designations into five distinct categories according to management restrictions, then created a seamless spatial dataset for the region. We then examined the composition of the different categories of management with respect to the dominant fire regime. We also generated an atlas of management categories (which we are calling “Land Classes” of the national forests in the region, which can be used to understand the spatial distribution of management restrictions on individual forests. The data enable broader scale assessments and prioritization analyses within the region, and provide a case study template for other regions to follow to further advance national scale assessments of restoration and fuel management potential.