LANDFIRE’s Top 4 List for the Great State of California

This entry is written by Kori Blankenship, a fire ecologist with the Nature Conservancy working for the LANDFIRE program ( You can contact her at: Thanks Kori!

You may know that LANDFIRE is a multi-year national project that is producing seamless fire and vegetation related spatial data and ecological models for the entire United States. California, as you certainly know, has a wealth of fire and vegetation related spatial data and local ecological models. Given that fact, why would a Californian care about LANDFIRE products? Briefly, and with the love of enumerated lists, I offer the following:


4. To fill in the gaps. A few years back I worked on a climate change assessment for the Northern Sierra where LANDFIRE data was used on a 5+ million acre landscape to fill in the veritable black holes between the National Forest lands where no comparable datasets existed. We cross-walked the LANDFIRE vegetation map units to match those of the Forest maps, stamped our modified LANDFIRE data in the holes and voila (!) – a seamless map was ready for analysis.

3. To supplement local data. Saah and others (2009), recognizing the difficulty of creating or adjusting local datasets for broad scale spatial assessments, compared LANDFIRE data to local data to assess its utility in modeling wildfire behavior and emissions in California’s Sierra Nevada forests. They conclude that “Modification of LANDFIRE inputs based on field data may be the most desirable alternative at this point.” In a different type of application, the BLM’s Bishop Field Office completed its conservation action plan for the Bodie Hills and Mono Basin using local data and modified LANDFIRE data. By applying local adjustments to LANDFIRE data rather than starting from scratch, the BLM saved time and money.  

2. Great support. The quantity of data and tools available today is overwhelming, but few are supported by FREE support materials and a helpdesk staffed by live, responsive and helpful individuals. The LANDFIRE team has just released a series of in-depth guides, how-to videos and step-by-step tutorials to help users get the most out of its products—we call them HUGs (How to Use LANDFIRE Guides) These HUG materials build on existing LANDFIRE courses. Need more help? Contact any member of The Nature Conservancy’s LANDFIRE Team or the LANDFIRE helpdesk (

1. A Plan for Data Updating. Many organizations have data that are current or nearly current today, but funding to keep them that way may be harder to come by in the future. LANDFIRE has a plan to update its products in the years ahead that could save you money down the road when funding grows scarce. In fact, LANDFIRE recently released improved and updated spatial products current through 2008 on its Data Distribution Site

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If you’re not impressed with my Top Four list, check out the buzz about valuing pollinators in California agriculture using LANDFIRE or see why Van de Water and Safford (2011) consider LANDFIRE’s Biophysical Settings data the “...cur­rent state of the art for linking vegetation and pre-Euro-American settlement fire regimes across California.” LANDFIRE can’t replace local data but you may find it useful for filling gaps or supplementing local datasets particularly if they are outdated. What’s more, we can help you do it!

Tweet us with your use of LANDFIRE data and we’ll share with our followers: @nature_LANDFIRE.


LANDFIRE has two new user support guides available online to help users get the most from its vegetation models and spatial data.