Forest Roads and Operational Wildfire Response Planning

TitleForest Roads and Operational Wildfire Response Planning
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsThompson, MP, Gannon, BM, Caggiano, MD
Date Published01/2021
KeywordsHazardous fuels, risk management, suppression, technical reports and journal articles, transportation planning, wildland fire

Supporting wildfire management activities is frequently identified as a benefit of forestroads. As such, there is a growing body of research into forest road planning, construction, andmaintenance to improve fire surveillance, prevention, access, and control operations. Of interesthere is how road networks directly support fire control operations, and how managers incorporatethat information into pre-season assessment and planning. In this communication we briefly reviewand illustrate how forest roads relate to recent advances in operationally focused wildfire decisionsupport. We focus on two interrelated products used on the National Forest System and adjacentlands throughout the western USA: potential wildland fire operational delineations (PODs) andpotential control locations (PCLs). We use real-world examples from the Arapaho-Roosevelt NationalForest in Colorado, USA to contextualize these concepts and illustrate how fire analytics and localfire managers both identified roads as primary control features. Specifically, distance to road wasidentified as the most important predictor variable in the PCL boosted regression model, and 82% ofmanager-identified POD boundaries aligned with roads. Lastly, we discuss recommendations forfuture research, emphasizing roles for enhanced decision support and empirical analysis.