Application of crown fire behavior models in fire management decision-making have been limited by the difficulty of quantitatively describing fuel complexes, specifically characteristics of the canopy fuel stratum. To estimate canopy fuel stratum characteristics of four broad fuel types found in the western United States and adjacent areas of Canada, namely Douglas-fir, ponderosa pine, mixed conifer, and lodgepole pine forest stands, data from the USDA Forest Service's Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) database were analysed and linked with tree-level foliage dry weight equations. Models to predict canopy base height (CBH), canopy fuel load (CFL) and canopy bulk density (CBD) were developed through linear regression analysis and using common stand descriptors (e.g. stand density, basal area, stand height) as explanatory variables. The models developed were fuel type specific and coefficients of determination ranged from 0.90 to 0.95 for CFL, between 0.84 and 0.92 for CBD and from 0.64 to 0.88 for CBH. Although not formally evaluated, the models seem to give a reasonable characterization of the canopy fuel stratum for use in fire management applications.
[This publication is referenced in the "Synthesis of knowledge of extreme fire behavior: volume I for fire managers" (Werth et al 2011).]