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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Photo Series for Estimating Post-Hurricane Fuels in Forest Types of the Southeast United States

Project Completed!

Hurricane Photo Series Published (Volume XII)Photo of hurricane-damaged forests in the SE United States

During the summers of 2004 and 2005, several strong hurricanes affected southern states causing the blowdown of thousands of acres of Federal, State and private forests, resulting in very large accumulations of downed woody debris. This debris is often within the wildland-urban interface, creating the potential for catastrophic loss of property and potentially life if a wildfire were to occur. Scientists believe we can expect strong hurricanes to continue to impact the southern United States in the future, so a quick and relatively accurate method for determining the dead and down woody biomass and other fuel characteristics of landscapes affected by these large catastrophic events is essential to public land management agencies and Incident Command teams. Descriptions of fuelbed characteristics are critical for assessing the appropriate fuel treatment strategies to reduce fire hazard. As a result, local disaster managers, Incident Command teams, and fire and fuel specialists are requesting that a fuels photo series be developed that allows a quick an easy assessment of fuel loading and depth for hazardous fuel treatment planning.The photo series will also enable assessments to be completed quickly and easily in other areas of the United States where blowdowns occur.

The objective of this research proposal is to compile a sequence of single and stereo photographs with accompanying vegetation and fuels characterization data that will provide a quick and easy means for quantifying and describing existing fuel properties for a range of stand and damage conditions in pine and hardwood forests affected by hurricanes in the south. A minimum of 20 sites important for fire risk and hazard appraisal will be photographed and inventoried during this study and printed in one volume. Data and images generated by this study will also be included as a new volume in the Digital Photo Series. This photo series project will use methods similar to those employed in previous photo series. Photography and inventory needs to be done immediately, before the material is salvaged or begins to decay, to capture the immediate post-disturbance conditions. This photo series will be a scientifically-based support tool that will use time sensitive information or data (AFP-2006-1, task 1), and can be used to improve fire and fuel management and emergency planning and decision processes (AFP-2006-2, task #1, local needs).

Preliminary Data Assists in Assessment of Hurricane Ike

Anne Andreu and Roger Ottmar built 23 FCCS fuelbeds for the forests that will be mapped by Landfire for the forest damage assessment in Texas from Hurricane Ike. They were requested by Wayne Cook's Incident Command team, who is interested in making this process available for the next hurricane season and for other forest damage assessments.

Texas Forest Service Damage Assessment

Related Publications

Vihnanek, Robert E.; Balog, Cameron S.; Wright, Clinton S.; Ottmar, Roger D.; Kelly, Jeffrey W. 2009. Stereo photo series for quantifying natural fuels. Volume XII: Post-hurricane fuels in forests of the Southeast United States. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-803. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 53 p.
High resolution version [.pdf 122 MB]
Low resolution version [.pdf 3 MB]

Pacific Northwest Research Station. 2006. Forest fires a real concern for areas hit hard by hurricanes. Press release. Portland, Oregon: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.
Full text [.html]

Joint Fire Science Program. 2007. Proven fuel assessment tool will help hurricane-ravaged states. First Look.
Full text [.pdf]

Ottmar, Roger D. 2010. Stereo photo series for quantifying natural fuels: Post-hurricane fuels in forests of the Southeast United States. Final Report. Available at the Joint Fire Science Program webpage [.pdf]

Team Lead: Roger Ottmar.

Collaborators: National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Logo of the Joint Fire Science ProgramWe acknowledge funding from the Joint Fire Science Program under Project JFSP 06-1-1-11.

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