5th Symposium on Fire and Forest Meteorology and the 2nd International Wildland Fire Ecology and Fire Management Congress

Monday, 17 November 2003
Evaluating opportunities and risks of wildland fuels management
Anne E. Black, Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute, Missoula, MT; and C. Miller and P. Landres
Poster PDF (1.3 MB)
Most land management agencies are locked into a reinforcing feedback cycle in which perceived risks lead to fire suppression, leading to increased risks and further fire suppression. Existing tools and approaches for planning fire and fuels management perpetuate this cycle by focusing on risk while ignoring potential benefits of fire.

Using currently available data and computer programs, we have developed and are refining a GIS-based process that quantifies, simultaneously, the potential risks and opportunities for use of fire across the landscape. Maps, digital data and reports produced during the process include: stand based information on potential fire behavior under a variety of threshold fire weather conditions, fire effects on vegetation, fire effects on species’ habitat and landscape structure, fire effects relative to the desired future condition of the landscape, and annual or decadal probability of an area experiencing fire. The process is designed to be used by land managers in any type of agency: federal, state and non-governmental organizations.

Information produced may be used to develop resource targets, fire use zones, or to prioritize areas for WFU, prescribed fire or mechanical treatment. The process is also useful in helping managers and the public understand the trade-offs and consequences of alternative courses of action. When linked to cost data, it can help contain costs by identifying stands in which fire under particular conditions will result in a net benefit to the resource from those in which resources are ‘at risk’. Armed with this information, Incident Commanders may be able to more efficiently allocate suppression forces. This poster will present the conceptual design and results for several types of projects: long-range planning, fire management plan development, and endangered species consultations.

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