Page 16 - Georgia Forestry - Winter 2020
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 Once on a plot, FIA partners spend almost a full day conducting standard plot measurements such as forest type, tree growth, tree health and terrain slope. FIA foresters use a number of modern tools to document their work. An Allegro data recorder, which resem- bles a chunky TV remote, is used by one forester to input every value collected. A hypsometer, which looks like small, vertical binoculars, sends a base signal to a corresponding “shooter,” carried by
the other forester. The distance between trees and their respective diameters and heights are calculated, yielding further data on canopy cover, stand age, regen- eration status and disturbances such as insect damage and hurricane rubble.
Only when prompted does this team recount stories about dicey days on the job: kayaking down the Flint River to access a plot on an island; being in the crosshairs of a gun held by an agitated landowner; wading through a Lee
The Forest Inventory and Analysis program started when Congress acknowledged the need for information about the condition and supply of the country’s timber resources. According to the United States Forest Service (USFS), the program, formally established in 1930, “collects, analyzes and reports information on the status and trends of America’s forests: how much forest exists, where it exists, who owns it, and how it is changing, as well as how the trees and other forest vegetation are growing and how much has died or has been removed in recent years.”
It’s important to keep these data as up-to-date as possible. The USFS requires FIA inventories from each state every year, with reports produced every five years. A five-year cycle is the best possi- ble turnaround to produce usable data for its many purposes, according to GFC FIA leadership. Federal budget constraints resulting from the 1995 Farm Bill delayed the reporting process to a seven-year cycle, which creates too much lag in the forest trend data. However, gap-fund- ing by some Southern states, including Georgia, has enabled the establishment
GFC FIA Forester Mark Barrett uses a hypsometer to relay measurements to his receiving partner.
County creek; and the duty of picking off more ticks per day than most people would find endurable.
“We always wear our fluorescent orange vests,” said Mark Freeman. “A lot of time is spent getting landowner per- mission to be on their property. Especially during hunting season, we want to make sure they know we’re there. The local GFC office gives us a lot of help commu- nicating that, and we really appreciate it.”
 Nine Decades
and Counting

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