Development of coarse-scale spatial data for wildland fire and fuel management
Document Type: Report
Author(s): Kirsten M. Schmidt; James P. Menakis; Colin C. Hardy; Wendel J. Hann; David L. Bunnell
Publication Year: 2002

Cataloging Information

  • Acer spp.
  • agriculture
  • Betula spp.
  • Carya spp.
  • catastrophic fires
  • climax vegetation
  • computer program
  • coniferous forests
  • cover
  • cover types
  • current conditions
  • deserts
  • disturbance
  • ecosystem dynamics
  • Fagus grandifolia
  • fire damage
  • fire danger rating
  • fire frequency
  • fire intensity
  • fire management
  • fire regimes
  • fire size
  • flame length
  • flammability
  • forest management
  • Fraxinus spp.
  • fuel loading
  • fuel management
  • GIS - geographic information system
  • grasslands
  • hardwood forest
  • hydrology
  • Juniperus spp.
  • Larix occidentalis
  • Nyssa
  • Picea sitchensis
  • Pinus banksiana
  • Pinus contorta
  • Pinus echinata
  • Pinus edulis
  • Pinus elliottii
  • Pinus monticola
  • Pinus palustris
  • Pinus ponderosa
  • Pinus resinosa
  • Pinus strobus
  • Pinus taeda
  • PNV - Potential Natural Vegetation
  • population density
  • Populus deltoides
  • property damage
  • Pseudotsuga menziesii
  • Quercus spp.
  • remote sensing
  • Sequoia sempervirens
  • shrublands
  • shrubs
  • soils
  • succession
  • Taxodium
  • topography
  • Tsuga
  • tundra
  • Ulmus spp.
  • urban habitats
  • vegetation surveys
  • water
  • wetlands
  • wilderness fire management
  • wildfires
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 6190
Tall Timbers Record Number: 20158
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


We produced seven coarse-scale, 1-km2 resolution, spatial data layers for the conterminous United States to support national-level fire planning and risk assessments. Four of these layers were developed to evaluate ecological conditions and risk to ecosystem components: Potential Natural Vegetation Groups, a layer of climax vegetation types representing site characteristics such as soils, climate, and topography; Current Cover Type, a layer of current vegetation types; Historical Natural Fire Regimes, a layer of fire frequency and severity; and Fire Regime Current Condition Class, a layer depicting the degree of departure from historical fire regimes, possibly resulting in alterations of key ecosystem components.The remaining three layers were developed to support assessments of potential hazards and risks to public health and safety: National Fire Occurrence, 1986 to 1996, a layer and database of Federal and non-Federal fire occurrences; Potential Fire Characteristics, a layer of the number of days of high or extreme fire danger calculated from 8 years of historical National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) data; and Wildland Fire Risk to Flammable Structures, a layer of the potential risk of wildland fire burning flammable structures based on an integration of population density, fuel, and weather spatial data.This paper documents the methodology we used to develop these spatial data layers. In a Geographic Information System (GIS), we integrated biophysical and remote sensing data with disturbance and succession information by assigning characteristics to combinations of biophysical, current vegetation, and historical fire regime spatial datasets. Regional ecologists and fire managers reviewed and refined the data layers, developed succession diagrams, and assigned fire regime current condition classes. 'Fire Regime Current Conditions' are qualitative measures describing the degree of departure from historical fire regimes, possibly resulting in alterations of key ecosystem components such as species composition, structural stage, stand age, canopy closure, and fuel loadings. For all Federal and non-Federal lands, excluding agricultural, barren, and urban/developed lands, 48 percent (2.4 million km2) of the land area of the conterminous United States is within the historical range (Condition Class 1) in terms of vegetation composition, structure, and fuel loadings; 38 percent (1.9 million km2) is moderately altered from the historical range (Condition Class 2); and 15 percent (736,000 km2) is significantly altered from the historical range (Condition Class 3). Managers can use these spatial data to describe regional trends in current conditions and to support fire and fuel management program development and resource allocation.

Online Link(s):
Schmidt, Kirsten M.; Menakis, James P.; Hardy, Colin C.; Hann, Wendel J.; Bunnell, D. 2002. Development of coarse-scale spatial data for wildland fire and fuel management. General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-87. Fort Collins, CO: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 41 p.

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