USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Research Station


Pacific Southwest Research Station
800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710-0011

(510) 559-6300

United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.

Assessment of fire hazard/risk in the Wildland Urban Interface "WUI" and stream environment zones "SEZs"

Proposal [pdf]

Lead Researchers:

David Saah, Spatial Informatics Group, LLC
Jason Moghaddas, Spatial Informatics Group, LLC
Jarlath O'Neil-Dunne, Spatial Informatics Group, LLC
Qi Chen, Spatial Informatics Group, LLC


Around Lake Tahoe, sections of the Stream Environment Zone (SEZ), especially those that contain the terminal portions of streams feeding into the lake, are within the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) where potential impacts from wildfire are a key concern. A considerable effort has been underway within the Lake Tahoe Basin to mitigate these potential impacts. An understanding of how wildfire can impact both the WUI and SEZ, along with an assessment of mitigation efforts to date, is therefore critical. We propose a study to characterize conditions in the WUI and assess the current potential for crown fire initiation and probability of burning for all mapped SEZ and WUI areas in the Lake Tahoe Basin under extreme or "problem" fire weather conditions. In addition, we will evaluate the effects of all known planned fuels treatments over the next decade on the crown fire initiation and conditional burn probability in all mapped SEZ and WUI regions in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

Relation to Other Research Including SNPLMA Science Projects

There has been extensive work in the Lake Tahoe Basin to implement fuel treatments both within and outside the WUI. While several stand level studies have looked at the impact of wildfire and prescribed fire on Sierran stream characteristics, studies of the overall effectiveness of existing and planned fuel treatments on SEZs across the landscape are lacking among peer-reviewed literature. This study will provide this critical missing information. This project will also complement the SNPLMA Round 9 project, "Integrated decision support for cost effective fuel treatments under multiple resource goals," and the Round 10 project, "Management options for reducing wildlife risk and maximizing carbon storage under future climate changes, ignition patterns, and forest treatments," both which seek to evaluate the landscape-level effectiveness of different treatment scenarios on wildfire risk but without the focus on Stream Environment Zones. The project team will consult with management agencies and coordinate with ongoing science projects to ensure that definitions and maps of SEZ and WUI are consistent across these efforts.

Expected date of final products:

October 2013

Last Modified: Mar 28, 2013 02:52:08 PM