American River Watershed Institute
Shaded fuel breaks around Colfax appear like jewels in a necklace in this map.
Proposed network of shaded fuel break areas—outlined in blue
(Click image for larger view)
Fire Safety Project | Pilot Project

Analyses, Fire Behavior Modeling, and Strategic Planning

The City of Colfax contracted with USFS Adaptive Management Services Enterprise Team (USFS AMSET) to provide analysis and fire behavior modeling that led to a strategic plan for increased fire safety for the Colfax area. The result was a plan that proposed a network of shaded fuel breaks that would increase fire safety for the city. These shaded fuel break networks are called strategically placed area treatments (SPLATs) — see the strategic plan map. The USFS AMSET paper describing the analysis and modeling is Ponderosa Fire Safe Council: Potential Wildland Fire Behavior.

The focus of this analysis was on aspects of fire behavior that would influence the ability of firefighters to effectively suppress fires, and thus reduce the potential damage from a fire. This includes the following, linked to the larger maps:

Two different but related wildland fire behavior models were utilized, FARSITE and FLAMMAP. These are standard, widely applied fire behavior models. FLAMMAP shows how each portion of the landscape would burn on its own. FARSITE is based on similar underlying fire behavior models but includes the capacity to show ignitions where a fire might start and to simulate its spread given certain weather conditions.

The strategic plan was then modeled for pre-treatment conditions and post-treatment conditions using FLAMMAP and FARSITE. Analysis of the model maps is found in the AMSET paper.