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Updating LANDFIRE Fuel Grids Using MTBS Fire Severity Data


Map of application area

Updating LANDFIRE Fuels Data Jumpstarts Local Planning Efforts

Keeping fuel data current over time is a continual challenge for wildland fire managers. Natural events like wildfires and hurricanes, and human activities such as forest thinning, prescribed fire, and development constantly change the landscape and quickly render fuel data out of date.
Biannually, LF provides a data safety net by producing updated all-lands fuels products for the U.S.; however, those data are two to three years old when they are delivered. Further, while they provide a good starting point, the products are designed for national and regional level application -- local review and calibration is recommended to ensure that the data are suitable for smaller landscapes.
In 2015, the South Central Idaho Fire Planning Unit (FPU) needed current data after four major fires burned 178,000 acres in 2013. However, the 2013 events would not be reflected before the circa 2014 version was completed and made available in 2017. How did the area fire staff, working with a team of LF and USFS colleagues, bring the 2012 fuel data current to 2015 for the FPU? And, what process did they use to calibrate fire behavior fuel models to better fit local conditions?

Anthony Beauchaine, U.S. Forest Service, and Kori Blankenship, TNC-LANDFIRE fire ecologist, found a solution by replicating the LANDFIRE update process using available Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity (MTBS) data. 

In a LANDFIRE Product Application Summary, the duo describe how they developed a scalable process that enables natural resource managers to make local updates to LF fuels data between official LF updates.​

Read the PDF article.

Use the tutorial developed by Anthony Beauchaine, Kori Blankenship and Don Helmbrecht

Click here to contact Kori.