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Assessing fuel treatment effectiveness using satellite imagery

Wimberly, Michael C., Mark A. Cochrane, Adam C. Baaer and Kari Pabst

"The main goals of this research were to develop a methodology for combining data from LANDFIRE and MTBS with spatial data on fuel treatment locations to quantify treatment effects on burn severity, and to apply this method in a case study to assess fuel treatments on three fires occurring in different ecosystems. Specific research objectives were to assess the effectiveness of LANDFIRE data in controlling for the influences of fuels, vegetation, and topography on burn severity patterns; and to determine whether spatial autoregression can be used to capture spatiotemporal variability in fire weather, landscape-level treatment interactions, and other confounding factors not accounted for in the LANDFIRE data set."

The authors concluded: LANDFIRE and similar data products can be used to control for at least some of the confounding effects of vegetation, topography, and other environmental variables in assessments of treatment effectiveness. However, obtaining accurate measurements of other potential confounders such as fire weather still presents a challenge.