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Project ID: 99-1-3-28

Year: 1999

Date Started: 09/10/1999

Date Completed: 09/26/2001

Title: Spatial and Temporal Analysis of Lightning and Fire Occurrence in Rocky Mountain Wilderness Areas

Project Proposal Abstract: Recent fire frequency and ignition patterns along with mapped vegetation can help identify areas that may have high fuel loadings. This information could be incorporated into broad-scale prescriptions for fuels mitigation. Our research will make direct comparisons between spatially explicit lightning location databases, databases for fire occurrence, and 018-based maps of topography and vegetation. Although government agencies and private companies have compiled these data in recent decades, very little research has been conducted on the spatial and temporal patterns that may be revealed by directly analyzing these data. We propose to evaluate lightning-fire-landscape relationships in the 487,000 Ha Gila/Aldo Leopold Wilderness Areas in New Mexico and the 547,000 Ha Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area in Idaho/Montana, Using a Geographic Information System we will answer ecological and geographic questions about the spatial patterning of lightning and fire across landscapes and regions, the characteristics of 'fire-igniting' lightning strikes, and the annual and seasonal variability of lightning occurrence. A special opportunity exists here to analyze a decade of fire occurrence and lightning location data in two large, topographically complex, but disparate regions of the western United States. By comparing these two regional-scale case studies, and analyzing the differences and similarities of results, we will have significant empirical evidence of the constraints and causal relationships that drive fire regimes in Rocky Mountain ecosystems. The methodologies we develop for directly comparing lightning location data, fire occurrence data, and information on vegetation and topography will be applicable across administrative boundaries, biomes, and at regional scales. Mapping natural ignition patterns may reveal remote areas that may require management intervention. Our regional comparisons between the Gila/Aldo Leopold Wilderness Areas and Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness would be useful in educating future use of these methods to map fire-landscape interactions in other areas and at broad scales.

Principal Investigator: Matthew G. Rollins

Agency/Organization: Forest Service

Branch or Dept: WO-Research & Development

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Co-Principal Investigator

Penny Morgan

University of Idaho

Department of Forest Resources

Co-Principal Investigator

Thomas W. Swetnam

University of Arizona-Tucson

Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research

Federal Cooperator

David J. Parsons

Forest Service

RMRS-Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network

Northern Rockies



There are no project locations identified for this project.

Project Deliverables

Final Report view or print

("Results presented in JFSP Final Reports may not have been peer-reviewed and should be interpreted as tentative until published in a peer-reviewed source.")

  ID Type Title
view or print   1630 Government Publication Twentieth Century Fire Patterns in The Gila/Aldo Leopold Wilderness Complex New Mexico and teh Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area Idaho/Montana
view or print   1361 Government Publication Evaluating a Century of Fire Patterns in Two Rocky Mountain Wilderness Areas Using Digital Fire Atlases
    133 Dataset (including spatial) GIS Databases of Lightning and Fire Occurrence for the Landscapes of the GALWC and SBWA

Supporting Documents

There are no supporting documents available for this project.

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