Development of the tools, protocols, methods, and data products for the National LANDFIRE Project.
Geospatial data describing wildland fuel and current as well as historical vegetation conditions are essential for planning, implementing, and monitoring projects supported by the National Fire Plan and the Healthy Forests Restoration Act. Scientifically credible, consistent, and standardized spatial data allow fire and land managers to accurately identify the amount and locations of lands or communities with hazardous fuel build-up or extreme departure from historical conditions. These data also facilitate the prioritization of ecosystem restoration and hazardous fuel reduction treatments to protect ecosystems, property, and people. Moreover, these data may be used during specific wildland fire incidents to maximize firefighter safety, pre-position resources, and evaluate fire behavior under a variety of weather conditions. The Landscape Fire and Resource Management Planning Tools Prototype Project, or LANDFIRE Prototype Project,” was a three-year project that began April 1st, 2002 and ended April 1st, 2005. The project was funded by the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service and United States Department of the Interior, with an annual cost of approximately $2 million. The objectives of the LANDFIRE Prototype Project were to develop the methods, tools, and protocols for producing consistent and comprehensive digital maps of current vegetation composition and condition, wildland fuel, historical fire regimes, and fire regime condition class (FRCC) for the entire U.S. at a 30-meter spatial resolution. The LANDFIRE Prototype Project was conducted in two large study areas: the first in the central Utah highlands and the second in the northern Rocky Mountains of Idaho and Montana. The LANDFIRE Prototype Project involved various government agencies, universities, and private institutions. The two principal partners in the effort were the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory (MFSL) in Missoula, Montana and the U.S. Department of the Interior Geological Survey, USGS Center for Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Additional partners included the University of Montana (Missoula) Numeric Terradynamic Simulation Group (NTSG) and Systems for Environmental Management (SEM), also in Missoula, Montana. MFSL mapped biophysical settings, wildland fuel, historical fire regimes, and historical vegetation composition and structure. MSFL also conducted most ecosystem and landscape modeling. EROS mapped existing vegetation composition and structure; developed a quality assurance, quality control, and accuracy assessment system; and developed the LANDFIRE data-dissemination system. NTSG developed the daily weather DAYMET database used as a foundation for mapping biophysical gradient layers and SEM created the LANDFIRE reference database and provided valuable expertise on the classification, mapping, and modeling of vegetation and fuel.