Sites can be prioritized by comparing their potential management opportunities, loss of resource benefits, SOD risk, and hazards. If you have a limited number of sites, ranking them may only require a quick mental review of these factors. If you have many sites, it may be helpful to use a numeric rating system to develop priority scores for each site. You can then compare sites based on their priority scores. Priority scores for areas can also be displayed on a map for further consideration. It may be more efficient to treat several adjacent sites rather than scattered sites with similar priority scores. Sidebar 2-5—Developing a Numeric Priority Ranking Scale describes a method for creating numeric ratings from the matrix in table 2-7.
When considering large tracts of at-risk forests, land managers may feel that nothing can be done that will have a significant impact and that SOD should just be allowed to "run its course." However, costs that will be incurred due to SOD-related mortality could outweigh the costs of targeted SOD management activities. Prioritization helps you break down a seemingly impossible task - protecting extensive forest resources from SOD - into viable projects that can be addressed in a logical order.