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   from the issue of July 17, 2008

Crews survey state's tree resources


As part of the Great Plains Tree and Forest Invasives Initiative, 400 randomly selected plots across Nebraska are being visited to evaluate the state's tree resources.

TREE SURVEY - A Forest Service crew member measures a tree as part of the Great Plains Tree and Forest Invasives...
TREE SURVEY - A Forest Service crew member measures a tree as part of the Great Plains Tree and Forest Invasives Initiative. Four, two-person crews are surveying more than 300 tree plots in Nebraska. Courtesy photo/Nebraska Forestry Service.

Four two-person crews began surveying rural and urban plots across Nebraska in late May. Two of the crews each will visit 100 plots in the Lincoln and Omaha areas, while the other two crews will visit 200 rural and urban plots.

Through the Great Plains Tree and Forest Invasives Initiative, state forestry agencies in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota and South Dakota are working together to prepare for the arrival of invasive species in the Great Plains. The agencies are assessing the region's tree resources, determining and addressing the potential impacts of invasives to those resources, creating public awareness of invasive species and promoting species diversity. The initiative is funded in part by a $500,000 seed grant from the U.S. Forest Service.

Kansas, North Dakota and South Dakota also will be conducting surveys within their states.

Steve Rasmussen, NFS district forester and Great Plains Initiative coordinator, said invasive pests, such as emerald ash borer, pose a tremendous threat to the state's forest resources, and this inventory will increase the state's preparedness for invasive species.

"The survey will provide a clearer picture of species composition and distribution within Nebraska and throughout the northern plains states, helping identify areas most at risk to different invasive species," Rasmussen said. "This will allow forestry professionals to target efforts toward areas most at risk when invasive species arrive."

Plots were selected for each state by the U.S. Forest Service National Inventory and Monitoring Applications Center in Newtown Square, Pa. Each plot is one-sixth acre.

Information being collected includes the number, species, diameter and height of trees within each plot. Other important factors being recorded include: land use; tree health based on canopy die back; distance between trees and buildings; and function of trees in rural plots.

The data will be sent to the U.S. Forest Service for analysis. Information gathered will help natural resource professionals estimate economic impacts of invasive species, as well was the volume and location of wood that will be generated by trees lost to invasive pests.

"There has never before been such a thorough inventory done on non-forest lands, like windbreaks, shelterbelts, wildlife areas, narrow riparian tree belts and other smaller treed areas, in the Great Plains," said Rasmussen. "It is exciting that Nebraska and the other three states will have a chance to use this new technology and perhaps be a part of developing a new methodology for use in other parts of the country."



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