7 warren grove fire

Fire severity map of 2007 Warren Grove fire (graphic courtesy USDA Forest Service)

(by Michael Gallagher)

Maps of fires and fire severity are useful for scaling estimates of fire effects, describing them to forest owners or constituents, and supporting post-fire forest management. On average, 1,500 wildfires per year affect 7,000 acres of public and private forested land in New Jersey.  While the bulk of this affected land is typically in the southern portion of our state, wildfires can and do periodically happen in all parts of the state including land managed by NJDSAF members.

Understanding fire extents and variability of effects from fires is important for guiding post-fire management activities; however, scaling and describing estimates of fire effects can prove difficult, and is historically required expensive software and spatial analysis skills unattainable to most consulting foresters. To assist foresters and land managers, and to build a national fire history and effects database, the USFS’s Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity Program (MTBS) uses satellite imagery to monitor all wildfires 500 acres and larger that occur within the continental United States and provides a free suite of online mapping products available for download to the general public.  These products include pre-fire imagery, post-fire imagery, fire perimeters, fire maps, classified burn severity maps, and “burn ratio” maps in both PDF and GIS formats.  No additional software is needed to use these products, other than a PDF viewer.

MTBS currently offers fire mapping products for 99 of New Jersey’s wild and prescribed fires 500 acres in size or larger, from 1984 to 2013. Maps and data for recent 2014 fires are currently unavailable but will be available in the spring of 2015.  For more information or to download free fire maps or data, visit www.mtbs.gov and click on the Data Access link.