Characterizing post-fire vegetation recovery at Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico using NAIP data

Authors: Caitlin Lippitt*, University of New Mexico, Gladys Valentin-Gonzalez, University of New Mexico
Topics: Remote Sensing, Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Land Use and Land Cover Change
Keywords: post-fire vegetation recovery, type conversion, NAIP, fire frequency, fire severity
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Napoleon B1, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In recent decades, there has been an increase in the occurrence of wildfire events in the United States. The U.S. Forest Service estimates that over 73,000 wildfires on average occur annually in the U.S., burning about 7.3 million acres of land. Bandelier National Monument, in northern New Mexico, has been affected by several wildfires in the past 40 years, most recently from the Las Conchas fire, which burned over 150,000 acres of land in Bandelier National Monument and Valles Caldera National Preserve in 2011. This research is a remote-sensing based assessment of vegetation recovery from the Las Conchas fire using vegetation classifications derived from high spatial resolution aerial imagery. Post-fire vegetation change was analyzed and correlated with fire severity and fire frequency. Initial results indicate that areas that suffered vegetation mortality as a result of fire exposure have exhibited growth of New Mexico Locust, Gambel Oak, and Quaking Aspen, which has been documented in previous studies of wildfire in forested areas of New Mexico. This study is relevant for the understanding and management of wildfire-affected landscapes in arid and semi-arid regions, and contributes to a growing knowledge of the effects of large, high severity wildfires on vegetation distribution and resilience.

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