The Original US Public Land Survey Records: Their Use and Limitations in Reconstructing Presettlement Vegetation

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Studies of pre-European-settlement vegetation frequently use the original Public Land Survey (PLS) records from the US General Land Office. Like all other sources of data, this historical source poses both advantages and limitations. We review spatial and temporal issues concerning the quality of the PLS data for vegetation studies, including surveyor preference for witness tree characteristics and the duration of survey data collection. We present methods to capitalize on the advantages of the PLS data while minimizing their limitations.

Keywords: data quality; environmental management; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; historical vegetation; natural resource management; natural resources; restoration

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: 1: Graduate Research Assistant Department of Forest Ecology and Management, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI, 53706, 2: Associate Professor Department of Forest Ecology and Management, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI, 53706

Publication date: October 1, 2001

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  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.
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