Recently, the U.S. Forest Service presented Aleksandar Dozic and Glenn Kohler their Regional Forester’s 2012 Team Award for Excellence in Safety and Health. This award recognized state and federal employees who work on the forest health cooperative annual aerial survey. Such surveys have been conducted in the Pacific Northwest with the cooperation of state and federal partners since 1948 without a serious accident.
The U.S. Forest Service developed this safety program to include many different agencies to work together as a team, in a safe and efficient manner. Aleksandar and Glenn received this safety award for working jointly with U.S. Forest Service and Oregon Department of Forestry.
Together, the team developed the Sketchmapping system that allows surveyors to cover the region in fewer flight hours, thus reducing their exposure to risk. The team has fostered a safe culture for successful survey flights.
Systematic aerial surveys are conducted to identify and report on insect activity, diseases or other disturbances that kill or damage trees on federal, state, tribal and private forests. Trained observers fly slowly at low elevations above millions of acres of forestland each year, recording the damage they observe. It requires excellent planning, cooperation and communication between the observers, pilots and ground support to consider weather conditions, terrain and other factors as they safely and efficiently accomplish their mission. Data are collected by specially trained aerial observers from the USDA Forest Service, Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), and Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Glenn Kohler is a forest entomologist who has studied insects like the hemlock woolly adelgid, Douglas-fir tussock moth, and California fivespined Ips beetle. Aleksandar Dozic is a forestry technician who specializes in GIS mapping tools and methods for using aerial survey data.
For over 60 years, aerial surveys have proven to be an efficient and economical way to detect and monitor forest change events over large forested areas. You can learn more about this aerial surveying program from the U.S. Forest Service Fact Sheet, and see the forest health aerial survey video to find out what it’s all about. Each year the major findings of the aerial survey are reported in Washington’s Forest Health Highlights Report.
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