An Air Quality Portal to support the use of critical loads of atmospheric deposition in National Forest and Grassland planning.

Claire O'Dea1, Linda Geiser2, Rich Pouyat3, Anita Rose4 and Linda Pardo5

Forest Plans provide the basis for management decisions made on national forests and grasslands of the United States.  The USDA Forest Service 2012 Planning Rule requires national forest and grassland managers to consider air quality when developing plan components and to treat air resources similar to soil and water resources. This provides a unique opportunity to standardize the way national forests view and manage air quality as a forest resource.  By creating an easy-to-use resource to guide managers in considering and treating air quality, we can ensure a nationally consistent methodology which incorporates the best available science and data and eases the burden on the managers.  The Air Quality Portal ensures that managers understand the concept of critical loads of air pollution, allowing for appropriate incorporation of critical loads/exposures and target loads/exposures into Forest Plan revisions to meet the intent of the 2012 Planning Rule.  The Portal hosts the following documents:  

  • Decision tree guiding a nationally standardized air quality assessment process to determine exceedances of critical loads of air pollution
  • Decision trees guiding monitoring and management decisions based on the results of the air quality assessment
  • Detailed protocols/instructions for following assessment process
  • Spatial data available for download (and/or potentially for web viewing)
  • Sample specialist report(s)
  • Briefing papers and other communications tools
  • Training tools

The Air Quality Portal, accessible from, will be demonstrated live by the US Forest Service staff during the poster session of the NADP meeting.


1USDA Forest Service,
2USDA Forest Service,
3USDA Forest Service,
4USDA Forest Service,
5USDA Forest Service,