The State of Missouri’s Forests
after five years. Then, they’ll start again with the first 20 percent, repeating the cycle.
Crews will be at work in Missouri continuously and Missourians will no longer have to wait so many years for new forest information. A summary of the data will be compiled each year and a final report for Missouri will be produced every five years, when a cycle of the whole state has been completed.
When working in the forest, the first task for the Conservation Department and Forest Service crews is locating each plot. Plots are randomly scattered around the state on a grid system, and are marked on either satellite images or aerial photographs. Crews measured most of the plots in previous surveys, but it can take a long time walking in the woods to find them again!
Once on a plot, crews use a combination of high-tech equipment and good old-fashioned forestry tools to get the job done. For example, they measure tree diameter with a simple measuring tape, but the numbers are immediately entered into small handheld computers that have been designed to stand up to Missouri’s hot summers and cold winters.
The data is electronically "shipped" to the US Forest Services data processing center in St. Paul, Minn., where it is used to produce estimates of forest area, timber volume and growth, and to study changes in forest health. Forest inventory information is important to the foresters and landowners who manage Missouri’s constantly changing forest land. It provides the data they need for planning, protection and program development. The Conservation Department uses this information to advise private landowners and forest industries.
Just as important as knowing what our forests look like is knowing how they are being utilized, and whether that utilization is sustainable. Missouri is home to over 450 primary wood products producers - saw mills, charcoal mills, cooperage mills and many others. But we used to be home to many more. Over the years production has consolidated into larger and more modern mills.
Every three years, Conservation Department or consulting foresters visit all these mills and survey owners and operators on volume of wood used, preferred species, sourcing areas (the area of the state from which a mill buys timber) and production in the previous year. The results of these surveys are analyzed by the US Forest Service to produce an assessment of timber product output and use. The most recent results, published