COS 16-5
Transportation analysis: An application to quantify some of the ecological effects of roads on public lands

Monday, August 11, 2014: 2:50 PM
315, Sacramento Convention Center
Nathan C. Amboy, Remote Sensing Lab, USDA Forest Service, McClellan, CA

The USDA Forest Service manages 232,895,585 acres of land, of which, XX% is accessed by roads.  The need for multiple use access to these lands often leads to conflict with sensitive ecological systems.  Rare plant and animal species, unstable slopes and soils and the introduction of non-native species are just a few examples of ecosystems that might be unfavorably impacted by human transportation systems.  Directive XXXX (TAP), Subpart A, initiated a new round of road and trail analysis by the USDA Forest Service with the express goal of identifying the roads & trails that comprise the minimum transportation system.  Because the Forest Service system lands & roads are open to the public – without entrance gates – the total number of users is unknown.  But the impacts of their use and the infrastructure in place to give them access can be measured.  The Eastern Region of the USDA Forest Service – R9 – led the development of a GIS (geographic information system) application to help guide the TAP.  The analysis was partitioned into ten subject areas, of which 8 subject areas have a direct bearing on the local ecology.  Closing roads is a cantankerous issue.


Forest Service specialists were tasked to develop questions pertaining to the most pressing ecological issues for that resource.  The overall goal was to answer the question – Is this particular road a risk or a benefit given all constraints.  The TapTool application automats the analysis as much as possible and keeps a record of the risk/benefit scores.  A Summerization process is used to compute the final risk/benefit values and generate visuals – maps – as a tool for further internal agency and external public discussions.  It may take several years to finish the TAP agency wide.  However, some National Forests (NF) have completed their first round of analysis.  This presentation will explore the results obtained by the Shawnee NF.  Real-time interaction with the application will demonstrate how natural resource managers can use existing data, modern GIS methods, and repeatable, defensible analysis to communicate decisions by public land managers.  In addition, this presentation will show how non-agency ecologists can provide input to guide the process.