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Social-value maps for Arapaho, Roosevelt, Medicine Bow, Routt, and White River National Forests, Colorado and Wyoming

March 25, 2016

Executive Summary

The continued pressures of population growth on the life-sustaining, economic, and cultural ecosystem services provided by our national forests, particularly those located near rapidly growing urban areas, present ongoing challenges to forest managers. Achieving an effective assessment of these ecosystem services includes a proper accounting of the ecological, economic, and social values attributable to them. However, assessments of ecosystem goods and services notably lack information describing the spatial distribution and relative intensity of social values—the perceived, nonmarket values derived particularly from cultural ecosystem services. A geographic information system (GIS) tool developed to fill this need, Social Values for Ecosystem Services (SolVES;, now provides the capability to generate social-value maps at a range of spatial scales. This report presents some of the methods behind SolVES, procedures needed to apply the tool, the first formal map products resulting from its application at a regional scale, and a discussion of the management implications associated with this type of information.

In this study, we use SolVES to identify the location and relative intensity of social values as derived from survey responses gathered from residents living in counties adjacent to Arapaho, Roosevelt, Medicine Bow, Routt, and White River National Forests. The results, presented as a series of social-value maps, represent the first publicly available spatial data on social-value intensity for the southern Rocky Mountain region. Our analysis identified high-value areas for social values including aesthetic, biodiversity, and life sustaining within wilderness areas. Other values, like recreation, show high-value areas both within wilderness and throughout the general forest areas, which can be attributed to people using the forests for a diverse set of recreational activities. The economic social-value type was lower within wilderness areas, which was an expected outcome because of the restrictions inside wilderness areas that preclude resource extraction, development, and motorized or mechanized recreation.

Providing spatially explicit social-value information collected from residents in counties adjacent to these national forests can assist in facilitating the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service’s Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act of 1960 (16 U.S.C. 528) note and the 2012 Forest Service Planning Rule (36 CFR Part 219), which encourage public participation in planning and management. By making these maps available to the public, we hope to encourage exploration of potential uses of these data for resource management and planning.

Publication Year 2016
Title Social-value maps for Arapaho, Roosevelt, Medicine Bow, Routt, and White River National Forests, Colorado and Wyoming
DOI 10.3133/sir20165019
Authors Zachary H. Ancona, Darius J. Semmens, Benson C. Sherrouse
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2016-5019
Index ID sir20165019
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center