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Development of a Protocol for the Ecological Assessment of Aspen
David Burton, Aspen Delineation Project, Multi-agency, Penryn, CA
Resource managers across the West have a heightened interest in aspen issues since government mandates are increasingly directing land managers to protect the biodiversity of flora and fauna on public lands. Among those actively working on aspen issues, there is an interest in developing consistent inventory, assessment, and monitoring protocols in order to make science-based management decisions, share data more easily, produce a consistent evaluation of treatment results, and develop training programs for management and field staff.
Because of this heightened interest, the Aspen Delineation Project, a collaborative effort of the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region, California Department of Fish and Game, and the California State Office of Bureau of Land Management, has undertaken development of a consistent approach for collecting data about ecological condition of aspen stands on agency lands.
Protocols for determining ecological condition were developed and field tested by review groups. To date, units from seven state and federal agencies have collected data using the same protocols and field form.
The effort has focused on the identification of key indicators of ecological condition within aspen stands. The key indicators were established through extensive review of aspen research. Identification of the range of factors that create or affect those indicators were then incorporated into the protocols. Resulting ecological assessments conducted through the protocols describe stand structure, indicate unique stand management conditions, and record factors that might be putting stands at risk.