August 24, 2023

ForSys Used by Forest Service Researchers to Prioritize Firesheds for the 2022 Wildfire Crisis Strategy

The Wildfire Crisis Strategy (WCS) and associated implementation plan were released in January of 2022 and present a blueprint for a 10-year accelerated fuels treatment program focused on treatment areas on national forests that are potential sources of wildfire risk to communities. The goals of the WCS are to treat 20 million acres of national forest ground (on top of current levels of treatment) and 30 million acres of non-national forest land, and to develop a plan for the long-term maintenance of treated areas past the next ten years.

The plan targeted wildfire transmission to communities meaning direct treatments to areas that modeling suggested were the source of large fires that expose communities.  The work was initiated by first building a planning framework that defined discrete planning areas at the scale of most projects (ca. 25,000 acres) and to organize these into larger areas or firesheds that were at the scale that exposure is organized (250,000 acres). In this way scale mismatches are avoided. The resulting fireshed framework contained a nested system of treatment units, planning areas, and firesheds to use to model the 10-year treatment plan.

We then used ForSys to prioritize each planning area based on predicted exposure, treating 80% of the treatable area in each planning area where fires ignite and expose communities. A treatment ramp up was modeled to reflect the need to build capacity over time and related issues at the initiation of the plan. The results showed that treating about 40% of each planning area addressed 80% of the treatable exposure. The outputs from the model were used to develop a treatment schedule over ten years by national forest and region. The resulting 10-year plan was then extended to the eastern US national forests and non-national forests, and used as the foundation to develop the Wildfire Crisis Strategy.


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Ager, A. A., C. R. Evers, M. A. Day, F. J. Alcasena, and R. Houtman. 2021. Planning for future fire: scenario analysis of an accelerated fuel reduction plan for the western United States. Landscape and Urban Planning 215: 104212. doi: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2021.104212


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