Fuel loading prediction models developed from aerial photographs of the Sangre de Cristo and Jemez mountains of New Mexico, USA
Fuel load prediction equations that made use of aerial photographs were developed for Mixed Conifer, Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa Dougl. ex Laws.) and Pinyon–Juniper (Pinus edulis Engelm.)–(Juniperus monosperma Engelm.) Cover types from one-time measurements made in the Santa Fe watershed (SFWS) located in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of northern New Mexico, and at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) located in the Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico. The results of the watershed data set were favorable and exhibited a high degree of relative accuracy. The results from the LANL data set did not share the same degree of accuracy, but rather exhibited a high degree of error. Use of these or similar prediction equations may be limited to certain regions and community types that exhibit similar regional characteristics such as terrain, soil, and weather conditions. Applied use of the prediction equations required less time than traditional fuel sampling performed onsite, but suffered from a loss of accuracy. It is strongly suggested that additional study of this method be undertaken to generate more accurate and reliable equations. Hopefully, more accurate equations may augment existing fuel sampling techniques and be put to practical use for fire planning purposes.