Image Courtesy of The University of Maryland Center fof Environmental Sciences
The U.S. Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is working aggressively to restore federally-owned forests and grasslands at the landscape scale. May 2011 marked the completion of the first phase of the project, resulting in the release of the Watershed Condition Framework, Watershed Classification Guide, and the Watershed Condition Interactive Map. These materials evaluate the health and function of 15,000 watersheds across more than 139 million acres of National Forest System Land. Together, the materials represent the first national watershed assessment of the United States.
The goal of the project is to create a consistent and credible process for evaluating and improving the health of watersheds in national forests and grasslands. The interactive map accompanying the report displays the varying conditions of watersheds based on 12 indicators, including water quality, water quantity, and riparian/wetland vegetation, among others.
The methodology for evaluating the 15,000 watersheds in the project is based on a consistent classification system that allows for direct comparisons between watersheds. In addition to online maps and reports, shapefiles of the data are available for download.
The Watershed Condition Framework, Watershed Condition Classification Technical Guide, Watershed Condition Interactive Map, are available through the U.S. Forest Service Website.