This brief communication demonstrates land cover change on the southern Kenai Peninsula Lowlands (sKPL), Alaska, using U.S. Geological Survey, Land Cover Trends protocols. The Trends project seeks to understand the rates, causes, and consequences of land cover change for the United States between 1973 and 2000 using Landsat Multi-spectral Scanner (MSS), Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) and Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM+) datasets. Two of 35 randomly selected sample blocks within the Cook Inlet Ecoregion (CIE) are analyzed here to demonstrate the types of change typical of road-accessible forested portions of the sKPL during the latter part of the 20th Century. Land cover change increased substantially during the 1995 to 2002 time period, when compared to the 1973 to 1995 time period, as a result of a bark beetle infestation that affected much of the white/Lutz spruce forests located on the sKPL, leading to timber harvest. The consequences of the bark beetle impact have been numerous: loss of sustainable, harvestable timber, forest-stand conversion, change in wildlife habitats, changes in hydrology, increases in fire hazards and shifts in fire seasonality.
Key words: Alaska, bark beetle, change detection, Kenai Peninsula, USGS land cover trends
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