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LANDFIRE Data Support for the Raco Plains Mid-Scale Assessment: Great Lakes Region

link DOWNLOAD FILE: Raco Plains Assessment

This document was developed to provide a landscape-scale perspective for the Raco Plains (a fairly homogenous landscape in terms of Biophysical Settings (BpSs), dominated by Great Lakes Pine Barrens – or GLPB), explore the potential utility of LANDFIRE data within this landscape, and provide suggestions for opportunities that may be pursued by the Hiawatha National Forest.

Analysis of the current distribution of the GLPB compared to reference distributions suggests that there is significant representation of uncharacteristic vegetation conditions trending towards over-representation of both non-forested herbaceous cover with trees representing 20-40% cover(~11k acres) and stands with canopy closure of 80% or more (~7k acres).

There are multiple reasons for these over-representations, including multiple criteria management decisions and potential errors in LANDFIRE mapping. However, subject to data review, it is recommended that prescribed fire be used to reduce canopy cover in herbaceous areas to below 20%, and percent cover be reduced to less than 80% in forested stands using thinning and prescribed fire.

Additionally, using Raco Plains and surrounding areas as a foundation, it is recommended that the Hiawatha participate in development of a Fire Learning Network landscape, pursue Collaborative Landscape Restoration Act funds and collaborate with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in drafting of a Community Wildfire Protection Plan for the eastern Upper Peninsula that is currently underway.