Interior Alaska’s 115-million-acre boreal forest is larger than California and Texas combined. With few roads, most of the region is accessible only by air and is considered one of the last true wilderness areas in the United States. The first systematic forest inventory of this vast area has been started by
the USDA Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program. Even with a sampling intensity of one plot per 30,000 acres, the
inventory won’t be completed until 2028.
Much of what is known about the dynamics of this boreal forest has been gleaned from ecological studies conducted in more easily accessed areas of the region, such as near the city of Fairbanks. “The forest of interior Alaska
is a complex mix of both deciduous forest dominated by birch and aspen and coniferous forest dominated by black and white spruce,”
explains Patrick Sullivan, an ecologist with the University of Alaska Anchorage.
U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station
August 2020 | Issue 230 Science Findings