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National Scenario Planning Platform

The Scenario Investment Planning Platform (SIPP) is a key component of the larger Chief's Shared Steward initiative and is intended to improve investment strategies in landscape treatments across shared boundaries. The tool will help understand trade-offs and assess progress towards nationally identified priorities and targets and fills a gap in current planning by providing a way to understand how priorities such as reducing wildfire impacts to communities, at the national scale leading to outcomes on the ground. This project is integrating existing Forest Service research models and data into a simulation framework to explore system-wide management scenarios and associated tradeoffs. The system will provide a method to analyze tradeoffs among land treatment investment strategies aimed at improving forest conditions and reducing wildfire risk. In contrast to typical assessments of forest conditions, this framework provides a way to optimize treatments at the stand scale to meet larger scale objectives and constraints (i.e., Watersheds, Forests, Regions), providing a linkage between national policy and on-the-ground implementation. The system also allows integration of the multiple agency assessment completed to help prioritize investments. This effort will modernize how the USFS and our partners identify, prioritize, and implement treatment activities across the landscape by using cloud-based, Geospatial technology to explore and rapidly visualize various management scenarios and treatment optimization decisions in terms of where and how to achieve different outcomes and outputs at different scales on the ground.

The scenario planning project is building and deploying a nationwide forest scenario planning system that integrates numerous assessments of land conditions with foundational databases on economics, NEPA capacity, operational constraints, and land management planning. The system will support a wide range of prioritization activities and predict outcomes of forest management activities. This system will directly address the national shared stewardship report (citation) and MOU’s with State partners.

  • “A key component of the Forest Service’s new shared stewardship strategy is to prioritize investment decisions directly with states using the most advanced science tools”
  • “Set priorities together and combining our mutual skills and assets to achieve cross-boundary outcomes desired by all” 
  • “Doing the right work in the right places at the right scale. We will use new mapping and decision tools to locate treatments where they can do the most good, thereby protecting communities, watersheds and economies where the risks are greatest” (Idaho MOU):

Beyond using this system to examine agency priorities, scenario planning can be used to identify cross boundary opportunities and prioritize activities that are leveraging new authorizing environments to expand the scale of land treatments with stakeholders. In this way the current mismatch between the scale of wildfire risk and the scale of forest management activities can be reduced. Joint prioritization of forest management activities is clearly spelled out in both the national shared stewardship vision and in MOU’s with State partners. A sound framework for prioritization is called for in existing MOU’s and the shared stewardship report.

Results from several publications have demonstrated scale-dependent tradeoffs among the multiple management goals in the Forest Service. The products from this research are being used to support Forest Service prioritization planning in several regions. On-going case studies are being used to study how prioritization processes can be improved. Application for shared stewardship co-prioritization in several states have also revealed tradeoffs among management goals related to economics (wood products), wildfire protection to the WUI, and fire ecology objectives.

Image: Production possibility frontiers (PPF) for each of the 102 planning areas in the Blue Mountains study area.

Production possibility frontiers (PPF) for each of the 102 planning areas in the Blue Mountains study area. Each panel shows trade-offs between selecting stands to treat to maximize revenue versus address non-economic restoration objectives: A) reduction in forest departure, B) reduction in insect risk, C) reduction in wildland urban interface (WUI) wildfire exposure from national forest (NF) ignited wildfires, and D) reduction in wildfire hazard. PPFs are generated by optimizing the selection of stands to address a mix of the joint production of two restoration objectives in each panel.

Image: Comparison of net revenue and restoration attainment among planning areas under alternative prioritization scenarios.

Comparison of net revenue and restoration attainment among planning areas under alternative prioritization scenarios. A) Cumulative attainment of the five objectives when each of them are individually prioritized; B) same as A when revenue is prioritized; C) the revenue associated with levels of attainment when each of the objectives are prioritized in A; and D) cumulative revenue as a function of total area treated when each objective is individually prioritized as in A. Attainment is measured as the percentage of the total restoration objective in the study area that is identified for treatment in the scenario. WUI = wildland urban interface.

Modified: Feb 24, 2020

Select Publications & Products

Scenario Investment Planning Platform (SIPP)-Capabilities Demonstration

Ager, A. A., M. A. Day, A. Waltz, K. Vogler, and M. Nigrelli. In review. Forest restoration feasibility at landscape scales: spatial optimization and trade-off analyses. Forests

Ager, A. A., R. M. Houtman, M. A. Day, C. Ringo, and P. Palaiologou. 2019. Tradeoffs between US national forest harvest targets and fuel management to reduce wildfire transmission to the wildland urban interface Forest Ecology and Management 434:99-109.

Ager, A. A., K. C. Vogler, M. A. Day, and J. D. Bailey. 2017. Economic opportunities and trade-offs in collaborative forest landscape restoration. Ecological Economics 136:226-239.

Day, M. A. and A. A. Ager. 2017. ArcFuels: Application bibliography. Unpublished Report, Oregon State University and USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station.

Ager, A. A., M. A. Day, and K. Vogler. 2016. Production possibility frontiers and socioecological tradeoffs for restoration of fire adapted forests. Journal of Environmental Management 176:157-168.

Vogler, K. C., A. A. Ager, M. A. Day, M. Jennings, and J. D. Bailey. 2015. Prioritization of forest restoration projects: tradeoffs between wildfire protection, ecological restoration and economic objectives. Forests 6: 4403–4420. doi: 10.3390/f6124375