Forest Health, Forest Management, Fire and Aviation and the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests evaluate Unmanned Aircraft System utility for the entire Forest Service Agency

Alpine, AZ; September 27, 2016 – The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests is excited to announce that during the week of September 12, the Alpine Ranger District hosted the first Agency contracted  Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) to evaluate forest health conditions, woody biomass and the aviation contracting process in the area of Hannagan Administrative Site and Hannagan Meadow.

The Forest Service has been exploring the potential to fly UAS for a variety of natural resource management purposes for several years. A project managed by Forest Health Protection, Forest Management and the Southwestern Region Fire and Aviation Office was selected first and foremost to evaluate our aircraft contracting process to identify challenges in contracting for commercial UAS services.

Drone remote sensing

The project was implemented in the Southwestern Region, within the Collaborative Four Forest Restoration Initiative area on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, Alpine Ranger District where an invasive pest, the spruce aphid and native bark beetles have damaged vegetation for the past few years.

The UAS was flown on September 13 and 15 to detect and map the extent of damaged vegetation, and to estimate biomass and other forest product quantities in the 200 acre area of the Hannagan Administrative Site.

The type of UAS used was a Turbo Ace Matrix-E quadcopter piloted by Ryka UAS.  Partners for this project included: Forest Health Protection, Forest Management, Fire and Aviation Management, Remote Sensing Applications Center, Northern Arizona University, National Interagency Fire Center, and the Forest Service.

Aerial Imagery from the forrest Health Assessment

Aerial Imagery from the forrest Health Assessment