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Type: Conference Proceedings
Author(s): Andrew D. Bailey; Robert A. Mickler
Editor(s): Bret W. Butler; Wayne A. Cook
Publication Date: 2007

Fire managers in the Coastal Plain of the Southeastern United States use prescribed burning as a tool to reduce fuel loads in a variety of vegetation types, many of which have elevated fuel loads due to a history of fire suppression. While standardized fuel models are useful in prescribed burn planning, those models do not quantify site-specific fuel loads that reflect land use change, natural disturbances, and previous management. Furthermore, data on the fuel consumed during prescribed burning are generally unavailable. In an effort to accurately measure and map fuel loading and consumption at a site-specific level, fuels and vegetative communities were characterized in five burn compartments at the Air Force Dare County Bombing Range and Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in eastern North Carolina. Aerial photography, digital softcopy photogrammetry, and GIS were used to map vegetation to the alliance level of the National Vegetation Classification System (NVCS). Within each vegetation alliance, fuel loads in the shrub, herbaceous, litter, duff, and 1-, 10-, 100-, and 1000- hour down woody fuel categories were measured using USDA Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) phase 3 protocols. In addition, FIA phase 2 protocol plots were used to characterize live and standing dead tree biomass and forest canopy. Measured fuel loads were then compared to standardized fuel models to describe site-specific deviations. Following prescribed burning, fuel load plots were remeasured, and fuel consumption was calculated from pre- and postburn biomass. Consumption measurements were used to calculate prescribed fire emission factors, assess the achievement of prescribed burn goals, and validate the Blue Sky Smoke Modeling Framework in the Southeastern U.S. Coastal Plain.

Online Links
Citation: Bailey, Andrew D.; Mickler, Robert. 2007. Fine scale vegetation classification and fuel load mapping for prescribed burning. Pages 261-273 In: Butler, Bret W.; Cook, Wayne (comps.). The fire environment-innovations, management, and policy; conference proceedings. 26-30 March 2007; Destin, FL. Proceedings RMRS-P-46CD. Fort Collins, CO: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station.

Cataloging Information

Fuels    Mapping    Models    Prescribed Fire
  • BlueSky Modeling Framework
  • fire management
  • vegetation classification
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Record Maintained By: FRAMES Staff (
FRAMES Record Number: 7502