The official blog of the Joint Fire Science Program

The official blog of, the Interagency Joint Fire Science Program.

February 8, 2013

LANDFIRE: What's new?

Three words: LANDFIRE 2008 “Refresh.”

That is, many of LANDFIRE’s 20-plus spatial data layers have been improved or updated to be current as of 2008.

These maps show the vegetation  disturbance information used to update LANDFIRE maps to circa 2008. Many of these disturbance events were submitted by the LANDFIRE user community to help keep LANDFIRE data current. 

To create the LF 2008 “Refresh” products, LANDFIRE made a number of improvements to its products, many based on user feedback. Changes include:

  • Improved forest height and cover mapping,
  • Remapping of Biophysical Settings in some areas using more detailed soils information, 
  • Reclassification of fire behavior fuel model layers in protected landscapes to reflect situations where some agricultural and urban lands are managed as natural lands or are in a burnable type,
  • Updated urban and agricultural mapping using details from the National Land Cover Dataset, National Agriculture Statistics Service and other data sets. 
  • Vegetation Condition Class information mapped for Alaska and Hawaii,
  • Application of succession information to “grow” or transition vegetation from circa 2001 vegetation to circa 2008, and
  •  Incorporation of 1999 – 2008 disturbance and treatment information.

As always, these data are available for free on the Data Distribution Site and through the  LANDFIRE Data Access Tool.

LANDFIRE is now working on its 2010 updated maps which are scheduled to be released in 2013. Similar to its 2008 "Refresh" counterpart, the LF 2010 products will incorporate succession and  disturbance information as well as user feedback. LANDFIRE needs you. LANDFIRE's maps are driven by plot data and disturbance/treatment information (typically GIS polygon data), much of which is provided by users. 

Improved input data = improved mappingLearn how to contribute.

Stay tuned for the latest from LANDFIRE with updates on Twitter and the LANDFIRE Bulletin.

fire ecologist
The Nature Conservancy
Bend, Oregon

November 29, 2012

LANDFIRE: How can I use it?

In our last post we tried to answer the question: “Is LANDFIRE for me?” Well, there is only one way to find out--inspect the data to determine if it has the qualities you need to meet your objectives. You don’t have to have a PhD in vegetation modeling or be a GIS guru to review LANDFIRE data. The LANDFIRE team has support materials and support staff to help you.

Remember that LANDFIRE datasets were developed for national and regional level strategic planning and reporting, but because of their comprehensive and complete nature there is a demand for them for finer scale applications. The applicability of LANDFIRE data varies by location and specific application so users are encouraged to carefully review the datasets to determine their suitability on a project-by-project basis.

A team of ecologists reviews LANDFIRE data in the field.
Reviewing datasets is not something many of us are trained to do and yet it is a critical step to ensure that you use data appropriately, and end up with a final product that meets your needs. To evaluate a dataset you need time to explore and consider its attributes, and maybe a little help from your friends and colleagues. For example, if your background is in fuels planning, you might want to have your local ecologist available when reviewing the vegetation maps; if you are an ecologist, you may need your fuels planner to better understand the fire behavior fuel model layers. 

LANDFIRE developed three user guides to help users review and modify its vegetation dynamics models and its suite of geo-spatial layers:

The above guides offer to-the-point advice and easy-to-follow checklists to help users through the process. The guides are complimented by a set of step-by-step videos and tutorials that explain how to perform common data modifications such as:

·      Making a New Raster

These materials build on existing LANDFIRE-related courses.

fire ecologist

The Nature Conservancy


October 27, 2012

LANDFIRE: Is it for me?

Maybe. If you are engaged in research or fire and land management activities that require vegetation, fuel or fire regime information, LANDFIRE may be for you.

LANDFIRE is an ongoing national program that is producing continuous vegetation-and fire- related spatial data and ecological models for the entire United States. That’s wall-to-wall data for all 50 states, served for free on the LANDFIRE Data Distribution site and through the LANDFIRE Data Access Tool.

If you already have high-quality, up-to-date spatial data and ecological models for all the variables you want across your area of interest, LANDFIRE is probably not for you. Most folks are not so lucky, finding that they have no data, old data, are missing some variables, or need to fill data gaps (e.g. on private lands). If the latter describes you, read on.

LANDFIRE National Fire Regime Groups / Cartographer: Sarah Hagen

LANDFIRE has proven useful for a variety of fire management and natural resource management activities including:

Regional and National Level Wildland Fire 
Planning and Prioritization
LANDFIRE fuel and vegetation layers are used to support Fire Program Analysis (FPA), Hazardous Fuels Prioritization and Allocation System (HFPAS) and the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy.

Incident Management
LANDFIRE’s fuel products include all the geospatial layers required to run tools such as FlamMap, FARSITE and FSPro. These data have provided decision support information to fire managers working on wildfire incidents around the country. For example:

Fuel Planning and Prioritization
The Signal Peak Project, Upper Mimbres Watershed Landscape Assessment and Spokane Agency Multi-Year Fuels Planning Project each used LANDFIRE fuels data to model fire behavior in support of fuel planning and prioritization efforts.

Community Wildfire Protection Planning
The Cowychee Mountain CWPP and the Upper Fraser Valley CWPP plans both used LANDFIRE fuel data to model potential fire behavior in their planning area.

LANDFIRE products were developed to support national and regional level analyses, but may also be useful at local scales. In the end there is only one way to find out if LANDFIRE will work for you, and that is to inspect the data yourself. This doesn’t have to be a daunting task-- our next post will tell you how!

fire ecologist
The Nature Conservancy
Bend, Oregon