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Filling in the Blanks for Prescribed Fire in Shrublands: Developing Information to Support Improved Fire Planning

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By collecting information on fuel loading, fuel consumption, fuel moisture, site conditions and fire weather on fires in avariety of shrubland types, researchers are developing a fuller knowledge of shrubland fire effects. Results are beingintegrated into the software package CONSUME, a user-friendly software tool for predicting fuel consumption andemissions for fire, fuel and smoke management planning.Shrubland types studied include chamise chaparral in California, big sagebrush in Montana, pine flatwoods in Floridaand Georgia, and pitch pine scrub in the New Jersey Pinelands. Measurements were made of fuel characteristics beforeand after prescribed fires in the four vegetation communities in order to improve managers’ abilities to plan prescribedburns in these shrubland types. The outcomes of this research project contribute to our understanding and managementof fire effects in shrub ecosystems where data were previously limited.Key Findings New big sagebrush data collected in this study will expand the range of environmental conditions under which the CONSUME model is applicable. Using the model, predictive outputs compare favorably with those derived independently. Because of different topographic and fuel conditions, pine flatwood shrubland fires are distinctly different from big sagebrush fires. Expected predictors of fuel consumption include type and amount of understory shrubs, litter quantity, relative humidity, wind speed, and live and dead fuel moisture. Data from prescribed fires in chamise chaparral fires were difficult to collect. A technique for retrospective estimation of fuel consumption was employed. Additional work is needed to develop a more robust data set for model development and validation. In pitch pine scrub, field research combined with existing data from the Northern Research Station has provided data on typical fuel consumption from surface fuels. Additional shrub fuel research is needed. Research results will be incorporated into the CONSUME software package, making it more useful and accurate for estimating fire effects in shrublands.

Joint Fire Science Program

Filling in the Blanks for Prescribed Fire in Shrublands: Developing Information to Support Improved Fire Planning. Joint Fire Science Program; 2009 p. 6. Available from:

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