Integrated approach helps forest survey

GLADSTONE — For the past 13 years, the Hiawatha National Forest has been focusing on their its survey program through an integrated funding approach. This has enabled the Forest to survey an additional 200 miles of line, establish more than 1000 corners and identify over 50 trespass and encroachment situations.

This additional survey work in turn enabled implementation of projects in other resource areas, including prescribed fire for wildlife habitat improvement, and timber sales.

When Bill Gimler became the Hiawatha’s forest-wide timber management officer in 2007, he quickly saw the need to increase support for the forest’s survey program through an integrated funding approach. As a result, the Forest prioritized the funding of over $2 million toward landline surveys. During that same period, traditional funding avenues supported about 1% of these accomplishments.

Survey work benefits the public by ensuring Forest Service projects occur on National Forest System lands — and conversely, by protecting public lands from accidental impacts by neighbors. Hiawatha National Forest’s land ownership includes about 2,000 miles of boundary, about half of which has been established by survey. Locating and continuously maintaining landlines and corners is an ongoing job that is critical to all Forest Service work.

“Almost every U.S. Forest Service project requires the work of a surveyor. Whether a project involves a utility right of way, a timber sale, landscape level prescribed fires, or a new trail, you need to know where the property lines are. And that means you need landline survey work prior to implementation,” said Jordan Ketola, a licensed surveyor with the Hiawatha National Forest.

Need for landline survey will continue in the future, and the Hiawatha’s growing prescribed fire program will add to its importance. Continued use of the integrated funding that Gimler initiated will facilitate ongoing accomplishments in this important program.

“Many resource areas benefit when we combine our efforts. Integration may be a buzzword, but Bill was an early-adopter and the Forest has benefited by from his vision” said Louise Congdon, Hiawatha’s natural resource staff officer.