A Partnership to Develop a Reliable Workforce for Natural Resources Data Delivery
The Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program of the USDA Forest Service collects, analyzes, and reports scientifically credible data to assess the status and trend of America’s forests. These data provide critical information to resource managers, policy makers, cooperators, and the public on a multitude of forest resource metrics across all land ownerships (public and private). These data are collected through annual resource inventories across thousands of permanent plots each year, including in urban areas as part of the Urban FIA. The FIA program continues to seek opportunities to expand its capacity to collect, analyze, and publish data by expanding the scope and frequency of data collection, in addition to leveraging new technology such as remote sensing and lidar. The need to build this capacity to ensure timely and scientifically rigorous data and products is particularly acute in Pacific Northwest (PNW), given the challenges the program has faced in recent years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, unprecedented wildfires, and staffing shortages. By leveraging shared areas of professional expertise, INR and the USDA Forest Service's FIA Program, are working together to expand the PNW FIA program’s capacity to conduct field sampling, as well as enhance our capacity for data analyses and reporting to meet regional and national FIA objectives.
The PNW FIA Data Collection staff is partnering with INR in training and completion of FIA field work beginning in June 2023. This partnership involves providing training to INR staff on FIA data collection methods and then embedding them with FIA field crews in California, Oregon, and Washington. In 2023, we anticipate embedding ten INR staff with multiple field crews. Beginning in the fall, FIA Data Collection staff will begin working with INR to plan for additional fieldwork that we would begin to take on independently starting in 2024. PNW FIA will be hiring a full-time position to serve as a liaison between the two groups and provide training, quality assurance, and assist with planning, owner contacts, and coordination.