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LANDFIRE officially turned 10 in 2014. During its first decade the Program grew from two prototype areas where scientists researched, developed, evaluated and tested the best methods to determine how to map the United States, into a body of applications that includes climate change research, carbon sequestration planning, habitat analysis and protection, state forest assessments and more. 

For this section on the Gateway, The Nature Conservancy's LANDFIRE Team  selected a few of the hundreds of reports and case studies written by practitioners, science communities, land managers and project leaders across the United States that we think offer a bit of perspective on LANDFIRE's variety of uses. The LANDFIRE Program site offers a few examples of application projects and data uses as well.

More reports of LANDFIRE applications are posted in the Summary Stories and Library sections here on the Gateway. Skim any of the 97 application "thumbnails" that are highlighted on the WHAM! too.  

If you don't find what you're looking for, contact us, and we'll jump in.   


Recent Reports

Taillie, Paul J., M. Nils Peterson and Christopher E. Moorman. 2015. The relative importance of multiscale factors in the distribution of Bachman's Sparrow and the implications for ecosystem conservation. The Condor: Ornithological Applications (117): 137-146. (Cooper Ornithological Society) DOI: 10.1650/CODOR-14-137.1.  LANDFIRE Existing Vegetation Type data was used to define the suitability of Bachman's Sparrow habitat patches in southeastern North Carolina.  

Blankenship, Kori, Leonardo Frid and James L. Smith. 2015. A state-and-transition simulation modeling approach for estimating the historical range of variability. AIMS Environmental Science 2(2): 253-268.  Reference ecological conditions offer important context for land managers as they assess the condition of their landscapes and provide benchmarks for desired future conditions. State-and-transition simulation models (STSMs) are commonly used to estimate reference conditions that can be used to evaluate current ecosystem conditions and to guide land management decisions and activities. The LANDFIRE program created more than 1,000 STSMs and used them to assess departure from a mean reference value for ecosystems in the United States. The approach is flexible and can be adapted for use in a variety of ecosystems. HRV analysis can be combined with other information to help guide complex land management decisions.

Glennon, Michale J., Heidi E. Kretser and Jodi A. Hilty. 2015.Identifying Common Patterns in Diverse Systems: Effects of Exurban Development on Birds of the Adirondack Park and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, USA Environmental Management (55)2: 453-466. Authors examined impacts of exurban development on bird communities in Essex County, New York and Madison County, Montana by comparing differences in abundance of songbirds between subdivisions and control sites in both regions. They hypothesized that impacts to bird communities would be greater in the relatively homogeneous, closed canopy Adirondack forest of northern New York State than they would be in the more naturally heterogeneous grasslands interspersed with trees and shrubs of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, but found little support for our hypothesis. The direction and magnitude of change in the avian communities between subdivisions and controls was similar in both regions for all guilds except microhabitat specialists.

The authors used LANDFIRE to identify ecosystems with similar exurban development patterns and studied avian response.


 Team Picks 

(Click on photos for bio information)  

Jim photoJim Smith, TNC-LANDFIRE Project Lead


If you need to understand the LANDFIRE Existing Vegetation Type spatial layer, let Randy Swaty help you in less than 10 minutes in a visual environment (YouTube video) with a non-technical style (every-day language). This is the clearest explanation you'll get about EVT this side of a personal phone call.
A Decade of Innovation, Research and Collaboration (Blog)
We don’t always take the time to look back and consider what has happened and accomplished. I think that is important to do occasionally, and particularly when a project has lasted more than a decade like LANDFIRE. Randy Swaty does that for us, and others may learn what happens in a large scale, long-lasting program.
LANDFIRE Bulletins
Programs like LANDFIRE are always challenged by the need to communicate the uses and availability of data and resources to a broad spectrum of interested practitioners. Among the ways we handle that challenge is to create and distribute short, information-packed, bulletins that tell the user community what is happening in the project, and invite contributions to the on-going work of advancing ecological knowledge. You can subscribe to receive Bulletins directly via email.
 Kori photoKori Blankenship, Fire Ecologist




In this peer-reviewed article (Aims Environmental Science 2015) Jennifer Costanza and her co-authors explore future land use changes that might occur under different biomass production scenarios in North Carolina.  The study relied on modified LANDFIRE BpS models.
In this research article (Aims Press 2015) my colleagues Leonardo Frid of ApexRMS, and Jim Smith of The Nature Conservancy and I document a new approach for modeling the historical range of variability using LANDFIRE models. The approach is flexible and relies primarily on existing data. 
Lidar data could greatly improve fuels mapping but the data can be difficult to use and are not available everywhere. In this article (Remote Sensing Letters 2015), Birgit Peterson and her co-authors document a new tool that allows users to “automatically generate a suite of vegetation structure and wildland fuel parameters from LiDAR data and infuse them into existing LANDFIRE data sets." 
Jeannie photoJeannie Patton, Communications Lead

Feature stories get my attention more readily that reports, which is why I like this one about the Cherokee National Forest collaboration with TNC and stakeholders to solve a problem that had prevented positive action for nearly a decade. Katherine Medlock agreed to an interview and to telling us how the gridlock was eased and a new vision for conservation and restoration was put into an action plan.
I like this study (Forest Ecology and Management 2014), by Ryan Haugo and others, because it is a compelling analysis of where, how much and what kind of restoration activities are needed across the PNW to restore historic conditions. What makes it even better is the webinar presentation that followed the report’s release that includes photos, commentary, and Q & A.
Yes, we tweet -- who doesn't? Our feed is a good source of up-to-the minute news, reading recommendations, study/publication announcements, interesting trivia, and reTweets from LANDFIRE followers who have interesting and informative things to say. It’s easy to follow, and you don’t have to have a Twitter account to do so.
I confess that I like short, humorous, to-the-point and informative bits that give me the news without laying a heavy hand on it. That’s why I like teammate Kori Blankenship's PowToons, and continue to encourage her to do more. With the BpS review coming soon, I’m looking for more quick updates like the ones she did about LANDFIRE 2010 and the promo for the FRCC Map Tool Tutorials. Both are on the LANDFIRE YouTube channel.
 Randy Swaty photoRandy Swaty, Ecologist
Most successful landscape-scale projects combine multiple datasets. The research done by Joel Sauder and Janet Rachlow (Forest Ecology and Management  2015) is no different. They used LANDFIRE canopy cover and canopy height data to evaluate habitat selection made by fishers (Pekania pennanti -- a wide-ranging, mesocarnivore species). The authors used local imagery to update areas where recent clear-cuts were done.The results can be used to facilitate effective conservation of fishers through informed forest managment planning.

Forest change in the Driftless Area of the Midwest: From a preferred to undesirable future
Not too long ago TNC’s LANDFIRE team visited southwest Wisconsin's "Driftless Area." The region is unique because it escaped glaciation in the last glacial period. Knoot and others (Forest Ecology and Management 2015) assess and report on the current state of oak ecosystems there using multiple datasets including the LANDFIRE Forest Canopy Cover layer.
2014 was the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Wilderness Preservation System.  Recently Matthew Dietz and others published an assessment in Biological Conservation (2015) of ecological system representation across the wilderness areas. To do so they used a wide variety of datasets including the LANDFIRE Existing Vegetation Type data.   
Kim Hall photoKim Hall, Climate Change Ecologist
Bet-hedging dry-forest resilience to climate-change threats in the western USA based on historical forest structure
My work focuses on evaluating climate change impacts, and updating conservation strategies to reduce climate-related risks.  So, I was particularly interested in a recent paper by Baker and Williams in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution (2015) that draws upon LANDFIRE maps of ponderosa pine and dry mixed conifer forest. This paper provides interesting food for thought related to the role of small trees in conferring resilience to fire, insects, and drought. Thinking through all of these interactions can help us update forest management for climate change.
The LANDFIRE team stands out to me in terms of providing exceptional support for the models and datasets they co-develop.  Evidence:  My Google Scholar search took me straight to the acknowledgment section of this paper on the biodiversity values of the southeastern coastal plain by Noss et al. (Diversity and Distributions 2015) where several members of the team are thanked for their assistance. Go team! A cool paper, highlighting the fact that preconceptions we have about conservation value often fall away when confronted with comprehensive data. 
Web-Hosted Application Map
As the newbie on the team, I find the LANDFIRE WHAM! provides a great introduction to many applications of LANDFIRE datasets.  I’m looking forward to helping add more points to the map in the Great Lakes and Great Plains regions!
Sarah Hagen, Spatial Analyst
Tracy L. Hmielowski of the Tallgrass Prairie and Oak Savanna Fire Science Consortium and others conducted the Wisconsin Fire Needs Assessment with the input of a group of stakeholders and partners in order to quantify and identify priority areas for prescribed fire. I helped out on this report and there was a lot of great use of LANDFIRE data.


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