Determining historical forest composition on Tuskegee National Forests from Public Land Survey records

Authors: Arvind Bhuta*, U.S. Forest Service, Rosemary Hinson, Geological Society of America, GeoCorps Program, Joseph Bechara, Lebanon Reforestation Initiative and Department of State (IREX) Community Solutions Program Fellow, Timothy Shearman, University of Washington
Topics: Biogeography, Physical Geography, United States
Keywords: Alabama, Tuskegee, National Forest, forest history, forest composition, Public Land Survey
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


We examined and analyzed U.S. Public Land Survey records to determine the historical forest composition of the lands comprising the Tuskegee National Forest prior to European settlement. Specifically, we investigated survey notes and plats to understand the tree species that were observed and recorded during the survey and determine the township and range blocks that overlapped with the Tuskegee National Forest. This information was acquired from the Alabama Secretary of Stand Land Records and BLM's General Land Office Records websites. Plat maps from the original surveys were georeferenced to current township and range lines and corners and quarter corners were digitized in as points on these lines. Bearing trees at the corners and quarter corners were then digitized as points into the geodatabase based on the distance and direction described in the survey notes. Soil data and 10 DEM data were integrated together with the bearing tree data and placed into matrices to conduct an environmentally independent analysis of species associations across the landscape using multivariate nonmetric multidimensional ordination. From our analysis, we were able to determine that the historical forest composition of the Tuskegee National Forest was composed of longleaf pine and shortleaf pine in upland environments and bottomland hardwoods with some pines in drainage areas. This information provides us with an ability to understand forest composition when considering desired future conditions, while justifying our restoration efforts on this National Forest based on US Forest Service Forest Plans and other policy.

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