LANDFIRE Prototype - Mapping fuels

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.


Flow diagram showing the complex set of tasks needed to create the FRCC map as the product for the LANDFIRE prototype project.

Select Publications & Products

LANDFIRE website

Rollins, M.G. and C.K. Frame. 2006. The LANDFIRE Prototype Project: nationally consistent and locally relevant geospatial data for wildland fire management.Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-175. U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fort Collins, Colorado.

Keane RE, Rollins MG, Zhu Z (2007) Using simulated historical time series to prioritize fuel treatments on landscapes across the United States: the LANDFIRE prototype project. Ecological Modelling 204:485-502

Rollins, M., Keane, R.E. and Parsons, R.A. 2004. Mapping ecological attributes using gradient analysis and remote sensing. Ecological Applications 14(1):75-95.

Steele, B.M., S.K. Reddy, and R.E. Keane. 2006. A methodology for assessing departure of current plant communities from historical conditions over large landscapes. Ecological Modelling 199: 53-63

Karau, Eva and Robert E. Keane. 2007. Determining the spatial extent of a landscape using simulation modeling. Landscape Ecology 22:993-1006

Lutes, D. C., R. E. Keane, and J. F. Caratti. 2009. A surface fuel classification for estimating fire effects. International Journal of Wildland Fire 18:802-814.

Keane, Robert E., Lisa Holsinger, and Sarah Pratt. 2006. Simulating historical landscape dynamics using the landscape fire succession model LANDSUM version 4.0. General Technical Report. RMRS-GTR-171CD. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, 73 pp.

Scott J, Burgan RE (2005) A new set of standard fire behavior fuel models for use with Rothermel's surface fire spread model. USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fort Collins, CO