Date of Award:

5-2011

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department name when degree awarded

Human Dimensions of Ecosystem Science and Management

Advisor/Chair:

Dr. Robert Lilieholm

Abstract

Rural communities in the western U.S. and Alaska are highly dependent upon surrounding publicly-owned forests for various economic and non-economic values. Historically, limited data has hampered the understanding of such community-resource linkages. As a result, community interests may not be adequately considered in forest management plan development and policy formulation. Addressing this imbalance is an important issue for the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), particularly as it shifts from timberdominated goals to a more holistic ecosystem-based form of management.

This study seeks to understand community-resource use linkages, dependency, and vulnerability surrounding the Chugach and Tongass NFs using place-level socioeconomic data from the 2000 U.S. Census in combination with permit data from the USFS’s Timber Information Management Data System (TIM) and Special Use Data System (SUDS).

Information on permittees’ activities on forestland and socioeconomic profiles of permittee’s community-of-origin are found to be valuable, not only for forest management and planning purposes, but also for community-level social assessment. An examination of 2007 permit data found that a majority of permit holders were local residents. These communities are found to be dependent on the two forests for various types of activities and are thus more likely to be vulnerable to changes in forest management and policies.

The analysis also identified some limitations that may affect the quality of permit data and its potential use in community impact assessments. Despite these limitations of permit data, the methodologies utilized here demonstrate how TIM and SUDS data, in combination with U.S. Census data, could be used to describe Alaska residents’ socioeconomic profiles for communities located in close proximity to the Tongass and Chugach NFs. Such information can assist USFS managers in deriving community-level estimates of forest resource use, degree of dependency, and vulnerability to the likely impacts of alternatives management approaches.

Finally, recommendations are given to improve data recording, maintenance, and use in order to better understand communities that are dependent on forest resources in both the Chugach and Tongass NFs, and to specifically identify those communities potentially vulnerable to changes in forest management policies.

Comments

This work made publicly available electronically on November 21, 2011.

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