The U.S. Forest Service has released the agency’s first national assessment of the health and condition of the Nation’s Forest System lands located in more than 15-thousand watersheds. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack released the service’s Watershed Condition Classification Map, the first step in the agency’s Watershed Condition Framework. The map establishes a baseline that will be used to establish priorities for watershed restoration and maintenance.
The national Watershed Condition Framework establishes a consistent, comparable, and credible process for characterizing, prioritizing, improving, and tracking the health of watersheds on national forests and grasslands. The Framework also builds added accountability and transparency into the Integrated Resource Restoration program which is included in President Obama’s budget proposal for the next fiscal year.
The Framework uses three watershed condition classifications: Class 1 watersheds are considered healthy. Class 2 watersheds are relatively healthy, but may require restoration work. And class 3 watersheds are those that are impaired, degraded or damaged.  The Forest Service expects that as the map gains more widespread use, it will promote the department’s “all-lands” approach to managing the nation’s forest and landscapes.

NAFB News Service