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A project for monitoring trends in burn severity

Eidenshink, J., Schwind, B., Brewer, K., Zhu, Z.L., Quayle, B., Howard, S.
Fire ecology 2007 v.3 no.1 pp. 3
wildfires, remote sensing, monitoring, fire ecology, spatial data, governmental programs and projects, Landsat, image analysis, United States
Elected officials and leaders of environmental agencies need information about the effects of large wildfires in order to set policy and make management decisions. Recently, the Wildland Fire Leadership Council (WFLC), which implements and coordinates the National Fire Plan (NFP) and Federal Wildland Fire Management Policies (National Fire Plan 2004), adopted a strategy to monitor the effectiveness of the National Fire Plan and the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA). One component of this strategy is to assess the environmental impacts of large wildland fires and identify the trends of burn severity on all lands across the United States. To that end, WFLC has sponsored a six-year project, Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity (MTBS), which requires the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service (USDA-FS) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to map and assess the burn severity for all large current and historical fires. Using Landsat data and the differenced Normalized Burn Ratio (dNBR) algorithm, the USGS Center for Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) and USDA-FS Remote Sensing Applications Center will map burn severity of all fires since 1984 greater than 202 ha (500 ac) in the east, and 404 ha (1,000 ac) in the west. The number of historical fires from this period combined with current fires occurring during the course of the project will exceed 9,000. The MTBS project will generate burn severity data, maps, and reports, which will be available for use at local, state, and national levels to evaluate trends in burn severity and help develop and assess the effectiveness of land management decisions. Additionally, the information developed will provide a baseline from which to monitor the recovery and health of fire-affected landscapes over time. Spatial and tabular data quantifying burn severity will augment existing information used to estimate risk associated with a range of current and future resource threats. The annual report of 2004 fires has been completed. All data and results will be distributed to the public on a Web site.