USDA Forest Service

Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team


Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team
Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory

400 N 34th Street, Suite 201
Seattle, WA 98103

(206) 732-7800

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United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

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Icon of magnifying glassNational Fuels Map for Coarse-Scale Modeling

FinishedFCCS Fuelbed Map of the Contiguous United StatesFCCS Fuelbed Map of the Contiguous United States [Map 12 MB .pdf file] [GIS layers 4.38 MB .zip file]

A fuel-mapping module links GIS vegetation data to a fuel classification system, Fuel Characteristic Classification System (FCCS) so that fuel loadings can be estimated across the United States.

Fuel maps based on remote sensing and field data provide valuable information for modelers and managers, but are only snapshots in time. We have developed dynamic fuel maps for the continental USA that can updated as ecosystems change over time. An existing fuel characteristic classification system (fig. 1) quantifies live and dead fuel loadings into means and ranges for 16 categories of fuels across 6 strata, from canopy to duff. GIS coverages (1-km) of potential vegetation, current vegetation cover, land use, climatic variables, and historical fire regimes are overlaid (fig. 2) and one or more FCCS fuelbeds are assigned to each cell on the landscape (fig. 3). We calculate several fire potentials from the fuelbed database: fire behavior potential, crown fire potential, and available fuel potential (fig 4). Local-scale data are used to validate the classifications (e.g., fig. 5). The FCCS system designed by FERA allows us to visualize and quantify the distribution of fuels across the continental USA and will provide input for emissions and dispersion models under different management, land-use, and climatic-change scenarios.

Team Lead: Don McKenzie


Funding provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


Figure 1--Fuelbed strata and categories in the FCC System

Figure 2--Elements of a Dynamic Fuel Succession Mode

Figure 3--Mapping of FCCS fuelbeds (legend) onto Bailey’s Ecosystem Mountain (a) Province M242 (Cascade Mixed Forest – Coniferous Forest – Alpine Meadow), (b) Province M261 (Sierran Steppe – Mixed Forest – Coniferous Forest), (c) the 20 ecosystem provinces covering the western states, using rule-based classification. Larger images are .pdf files

Figure 4--Available fuel potential map at 1-km scale for the western United States, based on the FCCS system.


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