In 2012, the Forest Service Planning Rule started a new way of designing and implementing National Forest Management Plans. This new method would soon spread across the country. The Rule calls for increased collaboration with public stakeholders. Also, attention to matters of scale. Furthermore, explicit recognition of disturbance ecology and ecosystem stressors. Finally, addressing climate change and ecosystem resilience. The subsequent publication of the Agency handbook for implementation of the Planning Rule provides more specific direction for Forest Service land managers and public stakeholders. The Rule also requires that every National Forest embarking on Forest Plan Revision evaluate opportunities to recommend congressional designation of Wilderness areas as well as determination of Wild and Scenic Rivers in collaboration with public stakeholders.
Problem and Solution
Unfortunately, Forest Service managers face a common challenge as they are required to demonstrate and document how decisions are informed and made together. Geospatial information plays a vital role in getting everyone on the same page.
Historically, individual National Forests applied the 2012 Planning Rule independently, developing methods to evaluate opportunities for Wilderness and Wild and Scenic designation in isolation. This inhibited consistent, scalable approaches and shared best practices. Without Regional and National guidance for how geospatial data should inform Forest Planning, Forest managers struggle independently to assemble data inventories, prioritize relevant information, understand how strategic datasets inform management priorities, document collaborative decisions, solicit relevant, substantive and specific comments, and share the content of Forest Plans with the public. The recent establishment of Forest Planning Service Centers supplies a new organization to coordinate more cohesive geospatial guidance for Forest Planning generally, but also more specifically Wilderness recommendations and determination of wild and scenic eligibility.
After planning and discussing requirements, Xentity will provide technical geospatial support for various Forest Plan revisions identified by the Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers (WWSR) stakeholder group, the COR and TPOC. They will then lead development and application of centralized GIS tools to support the land management plan revision process, Wilderness and Wild and Scenic recommendations.
Outcome and Benefit
Through these efforts, Xentity will publish ArcGIS Online web maps, Experience Builder apps, StoryMaps, surveys, and dashboards available to both internal and public audiences. Xentity will organize , manage, and publish standard relevant datasets in a library that serve an integral role in a cohesive enterprise framework for informing the Wilderness and Wild and Scenic recommendation process, coordinated across the three (3) Planning Services Centers. Through completing these tasks, our client will see the development of a cohesive geospatial platform for assessing opportunities for Wilderness recommendations and designations of Wild and Scenic rivers. These tools will help each aforementioned agency within the USFS.