Air Quality Portal for Land Management Planning

Welcome to the Air Quality Portal for Land Management Planning.  To navigate around this Portal, click on the desired drop-down menu boxes on the left column of the page.  This will bring up relevant information and submenus containing pages related to the Forest Service air quality assessment for land management planning.  For example, clicking on the “Critical Loads” drop-down menu box will display all of the pages developed to support a critical loads assessment.

This web portal is an easy-to-use resource to guide national forests through assessing and treating air quality land management planning.  The portal hosts decision trees to guide components of the air quality assessment process, protocols/instructions for following the assessment process, spatial data for download or web viewing, sample specialist reports, briefing papers/communications tools, and training tools.  Although anyone is welcome to use this portal to conduct a national forest air quality assessment for forest planning, the Forest Service Air Resource Management  (ARM) program recommends that national forests contact their  Regional Air Program Manager to locate the appropriate air quality specialist to conduct this assessment for forest plan revision.

The National Forest Management Act (NFMA) of 1976 requires every national forest or grassland managed by the Forest Service to develop and maintain a land management plan (also known as a forest plan).  The process for the development and revision of the plans, along with the required content of plans, is outlined in the planning regulations, or Planning Rule.  Individual forests and grasslands follow the direction of the Planning Rule to develop a land management plan specific to their unit.  The first US Forest Service Planning Rule was completed in 1982; subsequent attempts to revise the 1982 Planning Rule have been overturned in court.  The Forest Service released a revised Planning Rule early in 2012.  The 2012 Planning Rule was signed by the Under Secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and Environment, and published in the Federal Register on April 9, 2012.  Implementation of the final Planning Rule began in May, 2012.

The 2012 Planning Rule requires national forests and grasslands to consider air quality when developing plan components, and to treat air resources similar to soil and water resources.  Planning Rule directives provide further guidance on implementation of the final rule, specifically the evaluation of current conditions and the creation of land management plans.  The Planning Rule Directives related to air quality are presented on this web portal, for reference.  The Forest Service ARM program is taking the lead to develop a decision support system that will help Forests during forest plan Revision.  We hope to standardize the way national forests view and manage air quality as a forest resource, by ensuring a nationally consistent air quality assessment methodology that incorporates the best available science and data and eases the burden on the forests during plan revision.

Currently, the Air Quality Portal hosts information on how to assess critical loads of air pollution for land management planning.  In time, the portal will incorporate all aspects of air quality assessment for land management planning.