Developing Oregon Caves National Momument and Preserve (ORCA) Fuel Map Extensions From Airborne LiDAR Data

Research Sponsored By: USDI National Park Service
Principal Investigator: Jerry Franklin
Project Description
The Oregon Caves National Monument (ORCA) boundaries were recently expanded to include the entire watershed within which the caves lie. The National Park Service (NPS) is in the process of assessing resources and threats to the newly acquired area. This includes preparing analyses and maps of risks to the area’s forests from fire. The only currently available fuels information comes from the relatively coarse fuel maps created by regional efforts such as LandFire. The National Monument staff would like to supplement this information with additional information on the forest structure that will provide information useful for planning the management of ORCA and that would be useful to managers in case of a forest fire. ORCA’s need for additional information on their forests represents a common problem for many parks and monuments where resources for extensive mapping of fuels and forest structure through field work are not available. In a growing number of these locations, however, airborne LiDAR data has been acquired for other reasons. While efforts to use LiDAR to map surface fuels at high resolution have not been successfully demonstrated, efforts to map surface fuels at more moderate scales have been demonstrated at Mount Rainier National Park. LiDAR also provides a means to map forest overstory structure at high resolution over large areas. For this project, UW scientists and graduate students will work with ORCA managers to identify the types of information that LiDAR can produce and which would be most useful both for general planning purposes and for use during fire management.