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Project ID: 06-4-1-04

Year: 2006

Date Started: 07/07/2006

Date Completed: 06/18/2010

Title: Evaluating Approaches to Mapping Burn Probabilities for Quantitive Wildland Fire Risk Analysis Framework

Project Proposal Abstract: This project builds on and extends the completed work from JFSP project #01-1-1-05 to compare and evaluate burn probability (BP) models, and incorporate these into a risk analysis framework. During that JFSP project, the GIS model BurnPro was developed and used to estimate spatially explicit probabilities of wildland fire for large fire-prone areas. BurnPro represents a novel approach that simulates fires as a function of the physical factors that drive their spread: fuels, weather, and topography. It outputs a quantitative estimate of BP, which is necessary for strategic fire and fuels management planning activities. As such, BurnPro received considerable interest from fire planners and managers, but its developers recognized that further development in BP modeling is needed, and that BurnPro needs to be thoroughly evaluated and tested before it can be used operationally for risk analysis. Once this is achieved, using BP in conjunction with resource and financial valuation models would provide land managers with a valuable and much needed framework for measuring risk (burn probability ? loss/gain, Finney 2005). This project is a collaboration that brings together experts from Canada and the US who have been studying BP modeling and wildland fire risk analysis to accomplish the following: 1. Compare BurnPro with at least two other BP modeling approaches and evaluate the accuracy, practicality and effectiveness of each for mapping burn probability in different fire regimes. 2. Assess the spatial factors that affect and contribute to BP at the landscape scale to better understand why some landscapes are inherently more likely to experience fires and how landscape modifications resulting from fuels modifications (e.g., fuel treatments, prescribed fire) and fire management activities (e.g., fire suppression, wildland fire use) can affect BP. 3. Incorporate an improved BP modeling capability into an operational framework for assessing wildland fire risk using the existing ArcFuels software (ongoing JFSP #03-4-1-04, Ager 2005) and demonstrate this application in at least two study sites. ArcFuels will be modified to run one or more of the BP models and combine their outputs with resource value data to provide an automated method for calculating risk. We will use our comparative evaluations of BP models (Objective 1) and our study of the landscape influences on BP (Objective 2) to identify a BP modeling approach that meets the analytical needs of a typical district fuels manager and integrate that approach into a standardized framework for wildland fire risk analysis using the existing ArcFuels software (Objective 3). Prior to finalizing the framework, we will host a workshop of specialists, planners, and researchers to ensure its widespread applicability and utility. We will substantially advance the methods used to model BP and ensure that these measures are compatible with wildland fire risk analysis models. Land managers will benefit from this project by having a more robust measure of the expected ecological or financial losses and gains resulting from wildland fire upon which to base decisions.

Principal Investigator: Carol L. Miller

Agency/Organization: Forest Service

Branch or Dept: RMRS-Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Co-Principal Investigator

Alan A. Ager

Forest Service

PNW-Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Ctr

Co-Principal Investigator

Mark A. Finney

Forest Service

RMRS-Fire Sciences Lab-Missoula

Federal Cooperator

Carol L. Miller

Forest Service

RMRS-Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network




Great Basin

Great Plains

Lake States

Oak Woodlands

Northern Rockies




Southern 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
    73 Ph.D. Dissertation Ph.D. dissertation filed August 12, 2009; conferred December 19, 2009. University of California, Berkeley, CA.
view or print   1159 Government Publication Evaluating Spatially-Explicit Burn Probabilities for Strategic Fire Management Planning
    927 Government Publication Training manual.
    928 Government Publication Training manual
    929 Government Publication Training manual
    930 Government Publication Training manual
view or print   964 Government Publication Application of Wildfire Simulation Models for Risk Analysis
view or print   3033 Journal Article Ecosystems
view or print   2343 Journal Article Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences
view or print   2655 Journal Article Landscape Ecology
view or print   2824 Journal Article Ecological Applications
view or print   2825 Journal Article International Journal of Wildland Fire
view or print   2826 Journal Article Forest Ecology and Management
view or print go to website 2851 Journal Article Ecosphere
view or print   3328 Journal Article Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences
    329 Training Session ArcFuels workshops
    3640 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Paper presented at the 2007 Ecological Society of America conference (August 2007, San Jose CA).
    3247 Invited Paper/Presentation presented at the USGS Menlo Park campus (June 2008).This audience was composed of geologists, many of which study and predict natural geological disturbances (e.g., landslides, earthquakes, volcano eruptions).
view or print   3248 Poster The Factors Controlling Burn Probability In a Large Boreal Landscape
    1946 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Paper presented at U.S. International Association for Landscape Ecology annual symposium. Snowbird, Utah. April 12-16, 2009.
view or print   1960 Poster The Factors Controlling Burn Probability in a Large Boreal Landscape
    2193 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Paper presented at 4th International Fire Ecology and Management Congress, Savannah GA, December 2009
view or print   4871 Poster Scale-Dependent Factors Controlling Burn Probability in the Southern Sierra Nevada Mountains, California
  go to website 4873 Computer Model/Software/Algorithm ArcFuels was enhanced with new tools for analyzing BP and performing risk analyses (
    6847 Poster Joint Fire Sciences Program Governing Board visit, Lubrecht Experimental Forest, Montana, September 14, 2006.
view or print   6848 Poster Evaluating Approaches to Mapping Burn Probability: Phase I
view or print   5718 Poster Factors Controlling Burn Probability in Four Landscapes of Western North America
    5618 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Paper presented at the First International Conference on Modelling, Monitoring and Management of Forest Fires 2008 in Toledo, Spain, September 2008.

Supporting Documents

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