Development of an ArcGIS fire frequency, fuel accumulation, seasonality and prioritization tool to facilitate prescribed fire decisionmaking on the Talladega National Forest, AlabamaThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Prescribed fire is used widely to mitigate wildfires and restore ecosystems. However, there are few tools developed to evaluate fire’s cumulative impact, calculate frequency, examine seasonality, and estimate fuel accumulation to facilitate decisionmaking in targeting successive prescribed fire application. An ESRI shapefile of all wildfire and prescribed fire events was assimilated from 1978 to 2012 for the 235,000-acre Talladega Division in east central Alabama. A python script-based tool was developed for ArcGIS10 to calculate the annualized average fire return interval, years of fuel accumulation (i.e., date last burned), and frequency of growing to dormant season fire events. Development of a comprehensive fire database that can calculate generalized fuel accumulation will allow for more targeted pairing with appropriate smoke dispersion and better smoke management. Calculations of fire frequency will determine if adequate fire return intervals are occurring on the landscape and focus on areas that need increased effort to meet frequency targets for restoration.