Fire Severity Modeling and Land Management Prioritization in the Central Sierra Nevada, California.

Authors: Stacy Drury*, USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station, Lucas Harris, Department of Geography, The Pennsylvania State University, Alan Taylor, Department of Geography, The Pennsylvania State University
Topics: Biogeography, Applied Geography, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: fire, fire severity, modeling, land management planning
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 9
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Wildfires in California's northern Sierra have been increasing in size and severity over the past several decades. The USDA Forest Service recognizes that fires do not stop at agency boundaries and that land management activities must be coordinated with partners at local and state levels. The forest service has a new shared stewardship strategy to work with partners in an integrated way to make decisions and take actions on the land at the landscape level and incorporate non-FS lands in collaborative planning efforts. ForsysX, a prioritization software, is being evaluated in California to support landscape level decisions on where to conduct land management actions and what type of land management to undertake. ForsysX requires fine-scale (30 m) spatially contiguous landscape level data on land ownership, assets and values at risk (homes, wildlife habitat, timber resources) and the potential benefits and losses if the landscape is burned by wildland fire. In this paper we discuss a fire severity modeling project on the Stanislaus National Forest and the surrounding matrix of federal, state and private lands. Specifically, we created a statistical model of potential fire severity using random forest modeling in R. We then used the statistical model to generate maps of potential fire severity under different weather conditions. Our fire severity maps will be added to ForsysX and used to prioritize were land management actions such as fuels treatments may be conducted to mitigate unwanted severe wildfires and support the restoration of ecologically beneficial wildfire to these fire adapted ecosystems.

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