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LANDFIRE is in its 12th year. 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. 

In this section, TNC'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.  




LANDFIRE produced and delivered state-and-transition models for every ecosystem (Biophysical Settings, or BpS) mapped by the program over more than a decade. The models and descriptions combined offer information about vegetation dynamics, structure, and composition on lands across the U.S. prior to Euro-American settlement. Not only are the models and descriptions important internally to the LANDFIRE Program, they are used across the nation in a spectacular array of applications and landscapes.  
LANDFIRE is now reviewing BpS models and descriptions - the first complete update since they were developed and delivered many years ago. Because LANDFIRE is committed to a collaborative process, incorporating the knowledge and experience of experts in fields of vegetation and fire ecology is critical. To that end, LANDFIRE requests contributions from fire and vegetation ecologists and others -- a "crowdsourcing" endeavor with important ecological impact. 
The review entails reading and commenting on a 4-to-10 page MS-Word document at your convenience and in your office. The dedicated BpS Review website contains all the information needed to complete the review and to provide comments back to The Nature Conservancy’s LANDFIRE team. 
Help LANDFIRE update and improve this important encyclopedia of scientific knowledge. Please visit the BpS Review site, share what you know, and pass this request to others who can provide their expertise as well. We welcome contributions!  
For more information, or to speak with a member of the TNC-LANDFIRE team, send us an email, or contact any team member.


Recent Reports

Nelson, Kurtis J. and Daniel Steinwand. 2015. A LANDSAT Data Tiling and Compositing Approach Optimized for Change Detection in the Conterminous United States. Photogrammetric Engineering & Remote Sensing (81)7: 573-586.
This LANDFIRE innovation describes tiling and compositing LANDSAT data in order to produce better change detection maps.  The method outlined in this paper can also be useful to those who study land cover land use change.
Annual disturbance maps are produced by the LANDFIRE program across the conterminous United States (CONUS). Existing LANDFIRE disturbance data from 1999 to 2012 are available. A tiling and compositing approach was developed to produce bi-annual images optimized for change detection. A tiled grid of 10,000 × 10,000 30m pixels was defined for CONUS and adjusted to consolidate smaller tiles along national borders, resulting in 98 non-overlapping tiles. Data from Landsat-5,-7, and -8 were re-projected to the tile extents, masked to remove clouds, shadows, water, and snow/ice, then composited using a cosine similarity approach. The resultant images were used in a change detection algorithm to determine areas of vegetation change. This approach enabled more efficient processing compared to using single Landsat scenes by taking advantage of overlap between adjacent paths, and allowed an automated system to be developed for the entire process.
Hyde, Josh, Eva K. Strand, Andrew T. Hudak and Dale Hamilton. 2015. A Case Study Comparison of Landfire Fuel Loading and Emissions Generation on a Mixed Conifer Forest in Northern Idaho, USA. Fire Ecology 11(3):108-120.
The use of fire as a land management tool is well recognized for its ecological benefits in many natural systems. To continue to use fire while complying with air quality regulations, land managers are often tasked with modeling emissions from fire during the planning process.  To populate such models, the Landscape Fire and Resource Management Planning Tools (LANDFIRE) program has developed raster layers representing vegetation and fuels throughout the United States; however, there are limited studies available comparing LANDFIRE spatially distributed fuel loading data with measured fuel loading data.
 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. 

 Team Picks 

(Click on photos for bio information)  

Jim photoJim Smith, TNC-LANDFIRE Project Lead 

Tim Christiansen, LRAM/RTLA Coordinator of the Texas Army National Guard's Integrated Training Area Management (ITAM) program, provides a "Top Eleven" list of application of LANDFIRE products, that includes practices in climate, weather, vegetation, land management, erosion, remote sensing, habitat health assessment and much more. It's an eye opener and a reminder of the broad horizon of applications that LANDFIRE data products can be used for -- it's not just about fire!
Working on large landscape challenges and opportunities for restoration and conservation, whether or not the the focus is on fire? If you discover that ArcGRID files aren’t what you need, you’ll be glad to know that LANDFIRE spatial layers can now be downloaded in GeoTIFF format.
LANDFIRE was asked to contribute blogs to this important site, and we were happy to accommodate. Read Sarah Hagan's reflections on field work No Place Else I'd Rather Be, Randy Swaty's My LANDFIRE Decade, and my look at The Good Old Bad Old Days.  
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. The inventory of our 2105 issues is online; the pdf's of previous year's Bulletins are being entered into the Gateway this month.
 Kori photo
Kori Blankenship, Fire Ecologist


Fire behavior analysts rejoice! A new system created by the LANDFIRE fuels team allows for improved fire behavior predictions during drought or seasonably dry conditions especially in the southeast US. Watch the LANDFIRE Short (video of under five minutes, posted on YouTube) for an overview.

Great news for fire behavior modeling: A new tool will be available soon that allows users to locally improve LANDFIRE fuels data with lidar data to improve canopy fuels layers and ultimately update the fire behavior landscape (lcp) file. Thank you, LANDFIRE colleagues Birgit Peterson and Kurtis Nelson and collaborators, for this new tool -- CHISLIC (Creating Hybrid Structure from LANDFIRE/lidar Combinations)! You can learn more in the article Automated integration of LiDAR into the LANDFIRE product suite, and if you will be at the AFE Fire Congress, you can attend a workshop on the tool.
Carbon Stock Changes: California 
Patrick Gonzales and others (2015) establish an initial time series for greenhouse gas inventory in the article Aboveground live carbon stock changes of California wildland ecosystems, 2001–2010. The paper, found in Forest Ecology and Management (Vol. 348), used LANDFIRE, FIA and other data sources to support its analyses.
Jeannie photoJeannie Patton, Communications Lead 
LANDFIRE Questionnaire Report
Not quite an "application," this summary of user responses to 40+ questions designed to collect feedback about user experiences and identify opportunities for improvement. Among the things we learned are: the majority of the 260+ respondents were familiar with LANDFIRE; fuels, fire regime, and vegetation products were rated "very useful" or "useful"; and one question received a 92% "thumbs up" answer -- LANDFIRE should continue. There's much to digest. Read the Executive Summary and Questionnaire Results.
Simulating the Historical Range of Variability (video)
I enjoy the LANDFIRE Shorts -- videos of under five minutes. In this new one, Kori Blankenship shows how the historical range of variability can be simulated with a LANDFIRE model. For more information on this technique, read the article A state-and-transition simulation modeling approach for estimating the historical range of variability, by Kori Blankenship, Leonardo Frid and James L. Smith.
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.   
Forest pests and pathogens. Historic over-harvesting and over-grazing. Invasives. Climate change. Fire suppression and altered fire regimes. The number of historic and current threats to the health of the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee sounds like the introduction to a horror story. Learn from this true study of challenges overcome, successful collaboration,  and a plan for restoration that brought a disparate group of stake-holders together in unprecedented -- some would say miraculous -- cooperation. 
 Randy Swaty photo
 Randy Swaty, Ecologist
I find the connection between fire and water to be extremely provocative and interesting.  My picks focus on research that explores how fire risk and/or fire risk reduction impacts hydrology. All use LANDFIRE data.
Hernan Moreno et al. (2015) explore the potential hydrological impacts of the Four Forest Restoration Initiative in Arizona.  This restoration effort is the largest in the US and aims to not only reduce fire risk, but also protect water supplies.  The authors did extensive modeling to see if proposed thinning regime will cause changes in stream flows and local water balance. Read an early release paper.  Authors used LANDFIRE data as vegetation inputs in the model.
Kristen Podolak and colleagues (2015) estimate water supply benefits from forest restoration in a new report Estimating the Water Supply Benefits from Forest Restoration in the Northern Sierra Nevada. Their research is focused on an area that provides water for roughly 23 million people and has many fire-dependent ecosystems. In an interesting twist, they not only looked at forest restoration, but meadow restoration as well. Authors used the LANDFIRE events spreadsheet to understand fire activities on the ground. 
William Elliot and colleagues presented a paper, Combining Fire and Erosion Modeling to Target Forest Management Activities, that uses fire and erosion modeling to target forest restoration. Working in California, authors estimated fire risk and post-fire erosion from a target watershed.  Erosion was mapped per hillslope, providing guidance for where restoration could be focused.  It is an elegant approach that used LANDFIRE fuels, Existing Vegetation Type and Existing Vegetation Cover 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
I'm reading Richard Manning's 1997 book Grassland: The History, Biology, Politics and Promise of the American Prairie, and recommend it, especially if you haven't thought about grasslands the way that I do -- as THE coolest ecosystems. One of the many quotes that speak to me is this: "Once covered with tall-grass prairie and a few fingers of oak savannahs, [Iowa] now holds less than one half of one percent of its original habitat. By comparison, the amount of old-growth forest remaining in the Pacific Northwest--the region where our most vociferous environmental battles rage--makes that region positively pristine." [LANDFIRE note: read Sarah's blog No Place Else I'd Rather Be for more context.]
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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