Canopy and surface fuels in many fire-prone forests of the United States have increased over the last 70 years as a result of modern fire exclusion policies, grazing, and other land management activities. The Healthy Forest Restoration Act and National Fire Plan establish a national commitment to reduce fire hazard and restore fire-adapted ecosystems across the USA. The primary index used to prioritize treatment areas across the nation is Fire Regime Condition Class (FRCC) computed as departures of current conditions from the historical fire and landscape conditions. This paper describes a process that uses an extensive set of ecological models to map FRCC from a departure statistic computed from simulated time series of historical landscape composition. This mapping process uses a data-driven, biophysical approach where georeferenced field data, biogeochemical simulation models, and spatial data libraries are integrated using spatial statistical modeling to map environmental gradients that are then used to predict vegetation and fuels characteristics over space. These characteristics are then fed into a landscape fire and succession simulation model to simulate a time series of historical landscape compositions that are then compared to the composition of current landscapes to compute departure, and the FRCC values. Intermediate products from this process are then used to create ancillary vegetation, fuels, and fire regime layers that are useful in the eventual planning and implementation of fuel and restoration treatments at local scales. The complex integration of varied ecological models at different scales is described and problems encountered during the implementation of this process in the LANDFIRE prototype project are addressed. ?? 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Additional publication details
Using simulated historical time series to prioritize fuel treatments on landscapes across the United States: The LANDFIRE prototype project