Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Wildland Resources

Department name when degree awarded

Forest Resources

Committee Chair(s)

Michael J. Jenkins


Michael J. Jenkins


David Winn


Michael Kuhns


John Ellsworth


In partnership with the USDA Forest Service and the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands, a geographic information system (GIS) was used to create a wildland fire assessment methodology. GIS layers (or themes) include topography, infrastructure, vegetation, climate, "sensitive" natural values, and fire history. Two phases of assessment are presented: a preliminary analysis designed for planning use at the landscape level, and a detailed analysis for site-specific use.

Results of the phase 1 assessment are density grids delineating areas of high fire occurrence and suggesting to managers where a phase 2 assessment is needed. By using the environmental, human, and topographic information listed earlier, probability maps of wildland fire occurrence were developed with a GIS and multiple logistic regression. In both cases, high fire danger areas can be overlaid with protection areas (natural or human-made value areas) to identify critical fire danger areas.

Because GIS is commonly used in land management, it facilitates the sharing and updating of geographic information between resource professionals of different agencies and organizations. Local officials will be able to use GIS spatial and tabular data for planning, zoning, and fire ordinance development. Land management specialists can locate, prioritize, and target high and critical fire danger areas for presuppression mitigation efforts such as prescribed fires, defensible-space projects, and fire-break construction (e.g., greenbelts, parkways).

Furthermore, GIS assessment layers can be manipulated and exported to create the required raster GIS data themes for FARSITE (a fire growth simulator). Fire managers will be able to spatially predict fire spread, intensity, and behavior under complex topographic and climatic conditions. This method, combined with the expertise of fire specialists, offers an improved and cost-effective assessment technique for wildland fire management.