Date of Award

5-1-2015

Degree Type

Report

Degree Name

Master of Natural Resources (MNR)

Department

Natural Resources

First Advisor

James N. Long

Abstract

Human activities have significantly altered forest conditions throughout Eastern Washington, United States, particularly in the wildland-urban interface where small acreage private landowners control a significant share of remaining forests. Focusing on Spokane County as a case study, this project used Geographic Information Systems, remotely sensed data, and property ownership information to estimate forest cover, identify private forest landowners in the wildland-urban interface, and measure vegetation changes between 1991 and 2011. Simplified reclassification of land cover yielded an estimated 315,268 acres (127,584 hectares) of forest in the county, approximately 28% of total land area. Forty-seven percent of forested land (149,236 acres - 60,393 hectares) is owned by 21,045 small forest landowners (defined here as individuals owning 2-180 acres). Change detection analysis using multi-temporal Landsat imagery measured slight increases in mean Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (+1.2 points) and mean Normalized Burn Ratio (+5.2 points). Visual comparison with aerial imagery suggested significant increases (>20 points) corresponded with forest growth or regeneration, while significant decreases (>20 points) corresponded with development or forest removal.

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