National Resources Inventory report released
The Natural Resources Conservation Service has announced the publication of the first Alaska National Resources Inventory.
NRI provides scientifically-based, statistically accurate estimates of natural resource status, conditions and trends of land, soil, water, and related resources. For most of the United States, the NRI provides this information only for non-federal areas, while for Alaska it contains data on both federal and non-federal lands.
“The NRI results are significant because they provide a scientifically-based snapshot of natural resources and the ability to track trends and condition,” said Alaska State Conservationist Bob Jones with the NRCS. “NRI provides a wealth of information that can be used to make informed decisions about the state’s natural resources,” he said.
Information derived from the NRI is used by natural resource managers; policymakers and analysts; consultants; the media; Federal agencies; State governments; universities; environmental, commodity, and farm groups; and the public. Historically, NRI information has been used to when forming public policies and agricultural and natural resources legislation, to develop State and national conservation programs, to allocate USDA assistance, and to enhance public understanding of natural resources and environmental issues.
The data in this report are part of a baseline for Alaska that will allow for future reporting of natural resources trends at regular intervals. The establishment of Alaska as a regular part of the NRI survey program has been a long and challenging effort due to cost and special sample design issues, imagery acquisition, data collection, and statistical estimation procedures as described in later sections of this report. Initial efforts to incorporate Alaska into the national NRI data collection began in 2004.
At a glance, some of the overview data reported is: Alaska covers 388 million acres, or 16.7 percent of all surface area of the 50 United States; 102 million acres of Alaska is in forest, 190 million acres is in wetlands, and 192 million acres is in scrub shrubs. Beyond land cover and use, other data collected include soil erosion, land being irrigated and developed land. Given this baseline of data on Alaska, future collections will indicate the degree of change in any of these areas.
For information about NRI visit http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/technical/nra/nri/.
For information regarding NRCS technical service or program participation, contact an NRCS Office. Alaska NRCS Northern Hub Office in Fairbanks: 907-479-3159, Alaska NRCS Southern Hub Office in Kenai: 907-283-8732, and the State Office in Palmer: 907-761-7760. Contact information for the offices in Alaska is also available at http://www.ak.nrcs.usda.gov/contact/fieldoffices.html.