STARfire Components

The Landscape Analysis is a unique advancement that enables planners and managers to demonstrate the relative value of fire planning alternatives. Using the LA, planners can test fuel treatment strategies across the landscape and estimate the relative value of each. The LA can assess and compare a variety of strategies including:

  • Alternative programs of fuel treatments (past and future)
  • Fire restoration
  • Alternative suppression strategies

The location of the treatments can be recommended by the planner or generated using STARFire’s fuel treatment optimization and prioritization functionality. STARFire’s core of fire-affected values and burn probabilities is leveraged in the LA. By knowing what is valuable to protect, or to improve, the LA module can show the improvement towards a desired management condition from implementing any or all of these actions. The LA generates summary metrics that identify the amount of valued improvement or movement to a desired fire management condition from each management alternative. The bar graph below shows the percentage improvement calculated in the LA for three planning scenarios:

  1. A low-level fuel treatment program
  2. A high-level fuel treatment program
  3. A high-level fuel treatment program and aggressive suppression program
Fuel Management alternatives and improvement graph

The LA assesses each treatment scenario relative to the current condition. In this sample scenario, the LA shows a five percent improvement to landscape from a low-level fuel treatment program. A high-level fuel treatment program improved the landscape by almost 20 percent and by combining this with an aggressive suppression program a 30 percent improvement was achieved. The LA’s ability to demonstrate the value of past treatments or proposed strategies can be essential for generating future funding, engaging collaborative efforts including community participation in fuel treatment programs and for validation of fuel treatment programs.

Limited fuel treatment funding requires managers and planners to select fuel treatment locations that generate the most net benefit. STARFire’s Fuel Treatment analysis (fuel treatment optimization) identifies the best locations to reduce hazardous fuels and improve ecosystem values. The prioritization component accommodates varying acreage scenarios as the treatment program expands or contracts with funding changes.

In the image to the right, the FT optimizer has identified the best locations for hazard fuel reduction and ecosystem benefit based on STARFire’s core of integrated valuations and burn probabilities. Dark pink identifies locations as higher priority for consideration than areas with light pink.These strategic locations can be considered by the planner or manager and used as input into other programs that recommend treatment size, shape or method.

The impact of changes in fuel treatment budgets can be demonstrated by increasing the acreage and generating a suite of treatment recommendations that correspond to increased treatment budgets.

Starfire fuel treatment map
STARFire's recommended locations for a 17080 acre fuel treatment at Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
Starfire fuel treatment comparison maps
Comparison of STARFire's recommended fuel treatment locations for varying budgets at Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

During a wildfire event a manager can access STARFire’s pre-processed “ready” analysis that estimates the risk and benefit of wildfire at any location on a landscape. The analysis can aid managers in identifying which portions of the fire perimeter are likely to require protection and which are likely to produce ecosystem benefits. The WF analysis can be generated for any desired wind speed and direction.

Starfire Wildfire analysis for wind directions
STARFire's Wildfire Analysis for four different wind directions at Big Cypress National Preserve

STARFire uses its core of integrated valuation and burn probabilities to identify which areas have a negative expected net benefit from fire originating in that location (red cells) and which areas have a positive expected net benefit from fire originating in that location (green cells). Because the net benefits of fire for every ignitable cell are displayed across the landscape, the output can be viewed as a net benefit distribution map given fire at any location.

STARFire’s Smoke Impact Potential analysis provides the ability to generate a smoke impact map that combines information on the potential to produce smoke emissions and the estimated impact of those smoke emissions. The STARFire smoke analysis complements STARFire’s Wildfire Analysis by allowing fire managers and planners quick access to potential smoke impacts for any wildfire. The smoke analysis also provides a strategic level view of which areas on the landscape are likely to generate important emission concerns. This information can assist in selecting areas to apply fuel treatments to reduce emissions in critical areas and can also be used to communicate potential smoke concerns to cooperators and the public.

Starfire Smoke impact Analysis map
STARFire's smoke impact potential analysis for Grand Canyon National Park

The SM is generated by supplying a smoke zone map with a corresponding smoke impact factors to the analysis. An emission potential map is generated through PM10 simulations (external to STARFire).  The resulting total smoke impact map is the product of the emission potential and smoke impact zone multipliers. In the figure, dark red indicates a high smoke concern and light yellow indicates a low smoke concern.

Fire managers and planners face greater challenges and expectations than ever before. Fire management has transitioned from a mandate of forest protection to ecosystem management with an interagency perspective. Consequently, the list of values at risk has broadened from individual resources (timber stands) to a diverse collection of ecosystem, market and social concerns (hazardous fuels reduction, protection of communities, sensitive resources, water quality, air quality and habitat). Historically, structured valuations systems have helped fire managers and planners with their analysis and assessment of values at risk. However, the current set of established valuation methods has resulted in significant limitations when applied to the broadened set of ecosystem management values. These limitations are amplified when dealing with interagency landscapes.

STARFire leverages a unique economic valuation system tailored to fire management and planning called MARS (Marginal Attribute Rate of Substitution). The system provides the ability to assess the value of fire effects (both positive and negative) across a range of resources through the use of relative values. This approach is unique in its ability to address inter-jurisdictional fire planning without compromising local or disparate values. As a result, STARFire can address state, private, county, tribal and federal jurisdictions in an integrated landscape.

The MARS valuation is combined with the burn potential information to form the core of the STARFire analysis. The STARFire core ensures that the values at risk are accounted for and incorporated into each analysis component generated by STARFire.

Key Concepts of STARFire Valuation