Handbook for Inventorying Surface Fuels and Biomass in the Interior West

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

USDA Forest Service

Publication Date



USDA For. Serv. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-GTR-129


USDA Forest Service Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station

First Page


Last Page



Comprehensive procedures for inventorying weight per unit area of living and dead surface vegetation are presented to facilitate estimation of biomass and appraisal of fuels. The authors show how to conduct fieldwork and estimate weight per unit area of downed woody material, forest floor litter and duff, herbaceous vegetation, shrubs, and small conifers. Weights by species are determined for shrubs and small conifers. Coverage of shrubs and herbaceous vegetation are estimated. The several sampling methods involve the counting and measuring diameters of downed woody pieces that intersect vertical sampling planes, comparing quantities of litter and herbaceous vegetation against standard plots that are clipped and weighed, tallying shrub stems by basal diameter classes, tallying conifers by height classes, and measuring duff depth. The procedures apply most accurately in the Interior West; however, techniques for herbaceous vegetation, litter, and downed woody material apply anywhere. A computer program and card punching instructions are included for processing inventory data.