Forest Inventory and Analysis (USFS FIA) Services
The US Government spends over $30 million each year to collect raw data on U.S. forests. These include the pine plantations of the south, the hardwoods of the northeast and the Allegheny Plateau, the conifers of the northwest and Alaska, the diverse forests and woodlands of California and the rainforests of the Pacific Islands and Puerto Rico. These data are collected under rigid data specifications, are checked for quality control and used to provide an annual report to congress. To be quite candid, these data are exceedingly underutilized. Though some researchers, including analysts with the US Forest Service, use this robust nationwide dataset daily, there are countless applications when FIA may be the dataset of choice, but is overlooked due to its complexity, and the general problems encountered when trying to obtain service from an overburdened public agency entrusted with its maintenance and interpretation.