US Forest Service Data

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This page attempts to document data sources for the US Forest Service Data Import. More information on tagging and status of imports can be found at the following pages:

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Data Sources

All National Forests and Grasslands have GIS data available for download, usually limited to the extent of the Forest and/or Grassland. A statement from region 6 (Pacific NW) http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/data-library/gis/disclaimers.shtml says that the data are public domain. There are some files very relevant to OSM (trails; recreation points listing campsites, docks etc) and some not so useful to the normal OSM reader (owl and fish habitats).

Enterprise Data Warehouse

For nationwide dataset extents, see the Enterprise Data Warehouse.

Geospatial Data Discovery Tool

The Forest Service also has implemented the ESRI Open Data Hub, known as Geospatial Data Discovery Tool. The Enterprise Data Warehouse has download national extents, or access ESRI REST services (MapServer), visit the These links include boundary files for National Forest boundaries and inholdings, Wilderness Areas, National Grasslands, Wild & Scenic Rivers, and others.

Other Published Maps

Motor Vehicle Use Maps, FSTopo maps, and Forest Visitor Maps are other published map sources. These are available in the Avenza Map Store, by download from Forest (USGS store- downloadable geospatial PDF) or Regional websites, or through mobile applications such as the Official National Forest Explorer App in the Apple Store, National Forest & Grasslands Explorer in the Google Play Store

Interactive Visitor Map

USFS Interactive Visitor Map. Visitor Map 2.0, provides the public with an online view of Forest Service roads, trails, recreation sites, wilderness areas, and wild & scenic rivers.[1]

Tagging

See main article - United States/Public lands/Forest Service

Priorities

A way to characterize a prioritized list of things to do in OSM for National Forests might be the following:

  1. Boundary data should be accurate and recent.
  2. Wilderness inholding data (if any) should be accurate and recent.
  3. Other (private) inholdings should be accurate and recent.
  4. NFs which are substantially or largely forested might realistically be set to landuse=forest. This is a good first step but it vastly preferable to map forest separately as it is a separate object.
  5. NFs which are not substantially or largely forested can have a landuse (or landcover, if it better emerges and/or is better supported in renderers) tag added to subset areas which accurately depict landuse within those subset areas.
  6. Trails, campgrounds, POIs, etc. should be updated to be accurate and recent.


Hierarchy tree using super-relations

All National Forests should be constructed as relations. For a given National Forest, consider creating a super-relation, relation:boundary, to collect individual boundary relations for ranger districts (assign role=subarea). This allows including an "admin_centre" node for ranger district and forest headquarters office locations. This hierarchy-tree approach and examples for super-relations are included in the Super-relation/Implementation wiki page. This may assist in resolving rendering errors by reducing the members for each relation, which is recommended to be limited to 300 for better performance. Relation size may become excessive when substituting ownership extent for the proclaimed administrative forest boundary, see August 2020 Talk-US mailing list discussion. Prospective subarea relations may correspond to ranger district boundaries, or further subareas if member count is still excessive. Since National Forests do not have jurisdiction (other than perhaps emergency wildfire response) within the administrative forest boundary, it's believed for best user experiences to limit depiction of national forest extents as ownership (see mailing list discussion). Further division below the ranger district level may allow creating subarea relations that encompass management areas, such as Congressionally-designated wilderness, wild and scenic rivers, or forest plan allocated areas for managed forest (landuse=forest, or higher protection levels protect_class=* such as primitive areas, natural areas, or research areas such as experimental forests.

A proposed full hierarchy to represent the depiction of the National Forest System in OpenStreetMap:

  • National Forest System
    • Region
      • National Forest and/or National Grassland
        • Ranger District
          • Management Area - this is the division of the National Forest into areas with specific management objectives and use restrictions. Existing spatial data may/may not respect the administrative boundaries of ranger districts. Tagging will vary this level for protection level (e.g. higher for wilderness areas).
            • Forest Compartment - The potential exists for creating a relation of collected stand-level ways for Tag:boundary=forest_compartment. Potential US Forest Service Data import source is the Field-Sampled Vegetation (FSVeg) "location" data layer soon to be included in the Enterprise Data Warehouse. For the US Forest Service, compartments are a division of the administrative ranger district boundary and includes both private and public land ownership and do not respect management area boundaries. As a result, the "location" layer is likely a poor choice of a direct import source into OpenStreetMap.
              • Forest Stand - tag with some variation of natural=*, e.g. natural=wood, natural=scrub, natural=grassland, natural=wetland, natural=water. Potential US Forest Service Data import source is the Field-Sampled Vegetation (FSVeg) "setting" data layer soon to be included in the Enterprise Data Warehouse. These data layers may include more attribute values for populating leaf_type=*, wetland=*, plant_community=*. Combining settings with the same "location" value and Forest Service-ownership value may be a way to arrive at a suitable relation for Tag:boundary=forest_compartment, unless it is of interest to include ways describing private ownership within the Forest Service administrative boundary.

Regions

This map shows the regions the US Forest Service is divided into and the regional office contact information.


National Forest and National Grassland Boundaries

National Forests and Grasslands Proclamation Boundaries are not the same as NF land. In many National Forests and Grasslands, some or most of the land inside the proclamation boundary is not owned by the USFS.

At a basic level, National Forests and Grasslands could be mapped as the proclamation boundaries, but this is more of an administrative boundary rather than a protected area. Within the proclamation boundary, additional lands can be acquired through purchase or accepted as a donation from a partnering organization. Existing Forest Service lands may also be conveyed to non-federal ownership, either in exchange for other lands or outright sale or transfer as surplus lands (Public Law 97-465,"Small Tracts Act" (16 U.S.C. 521c-521i).

Given the sometimes transient nature of federally-owned land managed by the US Forest Service, its best to include in OpenStreetMap only those ownership parcels managed by the US Forest Service to describe extent of National Forests and Grasslands. Datasets titled "Basic Surface Ownership Parcels" include all parcels within the proclamation boundaries (the basic dataset is merged and easier to deal with rather than the detailed ownership datasets). Only use the polygons that are tagged as owned by USFS, not Non-FS.

Ranger District and "Zone" Boundaries

National Forests and Grasslands are often further divided into lower-order administrative units known as ranger districts, managed by a responsible government official with the title of "district ranger". Each ranger district may have a single office, or they may be administratively combined into a single joint office. Ranger districts may also be collectively managed as "zones". A "zone" may have a single or multiple offices, but typically only one district ranger. It's not advised to map US Forest Service "zones" in OpenStreetMap if multiple office locations are available to assign to each constituent ranger district since "zone" is an operational designation that may shift over time.


Management Areas

National Forests are required by the National Forest Management Act of 1976 to prepare land and resource management plans that allocate areas within the Forest Service-managed lands based on their suitability for various uses in compliance with other laws and regulation. Management areas often include Congressionally designated wilderness, areas included in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, Roadless Areas, and other areas for the primary objective of timber, wildlife, recreation, water quality protection or for research purposes. See Land Management Planning Unit Metadata for scheduled updates to Forest Plans. See Other National Designated Area metadata. Individual National Forests and Grasslands encompass all the above designations in their Land and Resource Management Plans, but data at the national extent is not available through the Enterprise Data Warehouse or Geospatial Data Discovery Portal. Contiguous spatial data may be available on individual Region or Forest websites, likely listed under Maps and GIS data or Planning. As sources are located, they will be listed below.

  • Region
    • Forest - (link to Forest Plan Management Area GIS data)

Designated Wilderness

ArcGIS REST Server Download (Shapefile) Metadata A wilderness (datasets titled "National Wilderness Area") is (usually? always?) a subset of a surrounding "parent" National Forest. In effect, a wilderness is both wilderness and national forest, the former a higher level of protection within the latter. It is not the same as USFS-owned land within the greater proclamation boundary. Some Wilderness Areas are designated across multiple administrative National Forest boundaries, so a separate relation composed of individual ways differing in administrative relation may be needed to reflect the varying office and contact information.

Other Nationally Designated Areas

ARCGIS RES Server Download (shapefile) [https://data.fs.usda.gov/geodata/edw/edw_resources/meta/S_USA.OtherNationalDesignatedArea.xml Metadata This dataset includes other areas of Forest Service-managed lands that are nationally designated for special purposes. Examples include "National Recreation Areas" with recreation values as the primarily management objective, Wilderness Study Areas, Primitive Areas, Roadless Areas, and others.


Forest Service Transportation System

The Forest Service Engineering program maintains a database of roads and trails called INFRA. Individual roads and trails are inventoried, monitored for condition, and planning is conducted prior to making changes that affect the transportation system. Travel Planning is the process that implements the 2005 Travel Management Rule (36 CFR part 212), and results in the periodic publication of standard Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUM) for each National Forest and Grassland. Off-highway vehicle, over-snow vehicle and non-motorized trails are primarily managed under the Forest Service Recreation program.

National Forest Trails

See the Hiking page for general tags related to hiking trails.

See Also:

Motor Vehicle Use Map Trails

ArcGIS REST Server Shapefile Metadata This dataset is the subset of the National Forest Trails system data where Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) use is permitted.

National Forest System Trails (Feature Layer)

ArcGIS REST Server Download (Shapefile) Metadata

Attribute Description Use in OSM Notes
OBJECTID Internal feature number
TRAIL_NO The official numeric or alphanumeric identifier for the trail ref=*
TRAIL_NAME The name that the trail or trail segment is officially or legally known by name=*
TRAIL_TYPE A (required) category that reflects the predominant trail surface and general mode of travel accommodated by a trail value= SNOW, value=WATER, value=TERRA
TRAIL_CN Control number generated in Oracle to uniquely identify each trail across all Forest Service units.
BMP Beginning measure point for the segment
EMP End measure point for the trail segment
SEGMENT_LENGTH The length of the trail or trail segment in miles. Calculated as EMP - BMP
ADMIN_ORG The administrative unit within the Forest Service where the trail or trail segment physically resides
MANAGING_ORG The Forest Service administrative unit that has the long-term responsibility for the management of the trail or trail segment
SECURITY_ID
ATTRIBUTESUBSET Describes which attribute subset is populated for this record. The attribute subset chosen for each National Forest depends on the data readiness of the trails data for that National Forest
NATIONAL_TRAIL_DESIGNATION The national designation assigned to the trail or trail segment
TRAIL_CLASS The prescribed scale of development for a trail, representing its intended design and management standards (TC 1 - 5)
ACCESSIBILITY_STATUS Accessibility guideline compliance status for trail segments that are designed for hiker/pedestrian use
TRAIL_SURFACE The predominant surface type the user would expect to encounter on the trail or trail segment surface=* value= IMPORTED COMPACTED MATERIAL, value= NULL, value= N/A, value= AC- ASPHALT, value= NAT - NATIVE MATERIAL, value= SNOW
SURFACE_FIRMNESS The firmness characteristics of the surface that the user would generally expect to encounter on the trail or trail segment value= NULL, value= VS - VERY SOFT, value= S- SOFT, value= P - PAVED, value= F - FIRM, value= H - HARD
TYPICAL_TRAIL_GRADE The grade that the user would generally expect to encounter along the trail segment range of grade in %
TYPICAL_TREAD_WIDTH The average tread width the user can generally expect on the section of trail width=*
MINIMUM_TRAIL_WIDTH The minimum trail width on the trail segment where passage may be physically restricted and no alternative route is readily available
TYPICAL_TREAD_CROSS_SLOPE The tread cross slope that the user would generally expect to encounter on the section of trail. Entered in percent
SPECIAL_MGMT_AREA Land area, that may be of special management concern or interest, through which the trail or trail segment crosses
TERRA_BASE_SYMBOLOGY This field indicates the Trail Class, or development scale, of the TERRA trail or trail segment
MVUM_SYMBOL This field indicates the vehicle class or combination of vehicle classes to which the trail is open value= 1 - Roads open to all vehicles, Yearlong; value= 2 - Roads open to all Vehicles, Seasonal; value= 3 - Roads open to highway legal vehicles only, Yearlong; value= 4 - Roads open to highway legal vehicles only, Seasonal; value= 5 - Trails open to all vehicles, Yearlong; value= 6, Trails open to all vehicles, Seasonal; value= 7 - Trails open to vehicles 50" or less in width, Yearlong; value= 8 - Trails open to vehicles 50" or less in width, Seasonal; value= 9 - Trails open to motorcycles, Yearlong; value= 10 - Trails open to motorcycles, Seasonal; value= 11 - Special Designation, Yearlong; value= 12 - Special Designation, Seasonal; value= 13 - Interstate; value= 14 - State or US Highway; value= 15 - Other Public Road; value= 16 - Wheeled OHV less than 50", Yearlong; value= 17 - Wheeled OHV less than 50", Seasonal; value= 18 - Other Public Trails; value= 0 Not populated for this Attribute Subset, value=NULL
TERRA_MOTORIZED This field supports basic display of motorized and non-motorized TERRA trails value= N - Designated as closed to all motorized uses year-round; value= Y - Designated as open to one or more motorized uses, year-round or seasonally
SNOW_MOTORIZED This field supports basic display of motorized and non-motorized SNOW trails snowmobile=* value= Y - Designated as open to one or more motorized uses, year-round or seasonally; value= N - Designated as closed to all motorized uses year-round
WATER_MOTORIZED This field supports basic display of motorized and non-motorized WATER trails Values= Y (YES), N (NO)
ALLOWED_TERRA_USE Indicates uses on TERRA Trails that are legally allowed on the trail value= 1 - Hiker/Pedestrian; value= 2 - pack and saddle; value= 3 - bicycle; value= 4 - motorcycle; value= 5 - ATV; value= 6 - 4WD>50";
ALLOWED_SNOW_USE Indicates uses on TERRA Trails that are legally allowed on the trail value= 1 - Snowshoe; value= 2 - Cross-country ski; value= 3 - snowmobile
HIKER_PEDESTRIAN_MANAGED Indicates TERRA trails that are designed and managed to accommodate hiker/pedestrian use seasonally or year-round Date range for which trail is managed for hiker/pedestrian use.
HIKER_PEDESTRIAN_ACCPT_DISC Indicates TERRA trails where hiker/pedestrian use is allowed or discouraged, but not managed or restricted seasonally or year-round Date range for which hiker/pedestrian use is accepted or discouraged.
HIKER_PEDESTRIAN_RESTRICTED Indicates TERRA trails where hiker/pedestrian use is restricted year-round Date range for which hiker/pedestrian use is restricted.
PACK_SADDLE_MANAGED Indicates TERRA trails that are designed and managed to accommodate pack and saddle use seasonally or year-round Date range for which pack and saddle use are managed.
PACK_SADDLE_ACCPT_DISC Indicates TERRA trails where pack and saddle use is allowed or discouraged, but not managed or restricted seasonally or year-round Date range for which pack and saddle use is accepted or discouraged.
PACK_SADDLE_RESTRICTED Indicates TERRA trails where pack and saddle use is restricted year-round Date range for which pack and saddle use is restricted.
BICYCLE_MANAGED Indicates TERRA trails that are designed and managed to accommodate bicycle use seasonally or year-round Date range for which bicycle use is managed.
BICYCLE_ACCPT_DISC Indicates TERRA trails where bicycle use is allowed or discouraged, but not managed or restricted seasonally or year-round Date range for which bicycle use is accepted or discouraged.
BICYCLE_RESTRICTED Indicates TERRA trails where bicycle use is restricted year-round Date range for which bicycle use is restricted.

Road data

U.S. Forest Service data can be used to improve the existing (TIGER-derived) OSM data in National Forest areas. Much of the TIGER-imported data lacks official Forest Service road numbers, includes roads on National Forest lands not approved for motor vehicle use, or better alignment may be found in the USFS data. The US Forest Service Geospatial Data Discovery Tool provides access to the USFS Enterprise Content, which includes roads data. This data is made available under the CC0 1.0 license (CC0 1.0 Universal) Public Domain Dedication.


National Forest System Roads (Feature Layer)

ArcGIS REST Server Download (Shapefile) Metadata

Attribute Description Use in OSM Notes
RTE_CN Unique identifier of a route N/A
BMP Beginning measure point of the route segment, expressed in miles N/A
EMP Ending measure point of the route segment, expressed in miles N/A
ID The official identifier of the route ref=*
NAME Common name of the road name=*
SYMBOL_CODE Field is populated using an SQL query SYSTEM, SURFACE_TYPE, and OPER_MAINT_LEVEL to assign the using Cartographic Feature File (CFF) to the road segment This code represents the level of service for map symbols, 100 - MULTI_LANE DIVIDED HIGHWAY, 101 - HIGHWAY, 106 - ROAD NOT MAINTAINED FOR PASSENGER CARS, 515 - DIRT ROAD SUITABLE FOR PASSENGER CAR, 517 - PAVED ROAD SUITABLE FOR PASSENGER CAR, 518 - GRAVEL ROAD, SUITABLE FOR PASSENGER CAR
SEG_LENGTH Length of the segment in miles as the difference between EMP and BMP
JURISDICTION The legal right to control or regulate use of a transportation facility. Jurisdiction requires authority, but not necessarily ownership operator=* value= FS - Forest Service
SYSTEM A network of travel ways serving a common need or purpose, managed by an entity with the authority to finance, build, operate and maintain the routes ownership=* value=NFSR - NATIONAL FOREST SYSTEM ROAD
ROUTE STATUS Current physical state of being of the route segment value= EX - EXISTING (unauthorized and decommissioned roads are not included in this dataset)
OPER_MAINT_LEVEL Current physical state of being of the route segment smoothness=* value = 1 - BASIC CUSTODIAL CARE (CLOSED), value = 2 - HIGH CLEARANCE VEHICLES, value = 3 - SUITABLE FOR PASSENGER CARS, value = 4 - MODERATE DEGREE OF USER COMFORT, value = 5 - HIGH DEGREE OF USER COMFORT
OBJECTIVE_MAINT_LEVEL The maintenance level to be assigned at a future date considering future road management objectives, traffic needs, budget constraints and environmental concerns same values as OPER_MAINT_LEVEL but also C - CONVERT USE, D - DECOMMISSION
FUNCTIONAL_CLASS The grouping of roads by the character of service they provide value= A - ARTERIAL, value= C - COLLECTOR, value = L - LOCAL
SURFACE_TYPE The wearing course; usually designed to resist skidding, traffic abrasion and the disintegrating effects of weather surface=* value= AC - ASPHALT, value= AGG - CRUSHED AGGREGATE OR GRAVEL, value = BST - BITUMINOUS SURFACE TREATMENT, value= CSOIL - COMPACTED SOIL, value= FSOIL - FROZEN SOIL, value= IMP - IMPROVED NATIVE MATERIAL, value= NAT - NATIVE MATERIAL, value= OTHER - OTHER, value= P - PAVED, value= PCC - PORTLAND CEMENT CONCRETE
LANES The number of lanes the travel way has lanes=*
PRIMARY_MAINTAINER The agency or party having primary (largest share) financial responsibility for maintenance
COUNTY State and County/Borough/Parish/Township in which the route segment physical resides
CONGRESSIONAL_DISTRICT The Congressional District where the route segment physically resides
ADMIN_ORG The Forest Service unit where the route segment physical resides or the primary Forest Service unit served by the route segment
SERVICE_LIFE The length of time that a facility is expected to provide a specified service
LEVEL_OF_SERVICE A description of the roads significant traffic characteristics and operating conditions
PFSR_CLASSIFICATION Federal Lands Transportation Program (FLTP) Road meets the requirements of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) guidance to provide access to high-use Federal recreation sites or Federal economic generators per 23 USC 203
MANAGING_ORG The Managing Organization is the Forest Service unit (region/forest/district) that has the long-term responsibility for the management of the route segment
LOC_ERROR The Location Error is generated by the ESRI software when placing event data against a Linear Referencing System
GIS_MILES Shape length of a feature in miles, calculated by converting the data from Decimal Degrees to meters with the formula LengthMeters * 0.000621469277.
SECURITY_ID The number identifies to which organization the asset (routes, features, land units, etc.) belongs and acts as a filter that controls what asset records a user can see and edit
SHAPE Feature geometry
OPENFORUSETO OpenForUseTo identifies if a road segment is open to the public for motorized travel motor_vehicle=*
IVM_SYMBOL The IVM Symbol is used to label road in the FS Interactive Visitor Map
SYMBOL_NAME Descriptive name for the category of the road segment, based on the Cartographic Feature File (CFF) Code. This field often is used in map legends
GLOBALID field of type UUID (Universal Unique Identifier) in which values are automatically assigned by the geodatabase when a row is created
SHAPE.LEN Length of feature in internal units

Add this URL to your favourite editor:

You can browse the map at http://osm.cycle.travel/index.html . The following key is useful:

  • Surface: yellow outline = paved, grey outline = gravel
  • Road type: white with black casing = paved road, dashed grey = gravel road suitable for cars, dashed brown = dirt road, dotted grey = not maintained for cars
  • Maintenance level: grey dots = 4x4 only, green dots = usable by cars, black dots = moderately comfortable for cars, black frequent dots = very comfortable for cars
  • Points of interest: car = roadside park, flag = Forest Service station, ski = winter recreation area, hiker = trailhead, campsite = campsite, picnic site = picnic site


Forest Service Facilities

Visitor information center locations, campgrounds, day use areas, trail-heads, dispersed campsites, and other developed recreation sites are valuable data for inclusion in OpenStreetMap. Many of these features are included on the Motor Vehicle Use Maps, the Primary Base Series maps otherwise known as FSTopo, and on the Secondary Base Series maps otherwise know as Forest Vistor maps.


See also