Bad data makes bad policy in fire-prone communities
“Fuelbeds” are a set of descriptors used to quantify the amount of flammable materials in a forest. They are based on landscape and eco-physiological variables. IGERT students discovered that bad data was driving bad policy on the Reservation of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT). This participatory action research project developed more accurate data sets to describe fuel bed that were consistent with the environmental goals and management practices of the tribe.
Modified fuelbeds were designed based on Bureau of Indian Affairs – CSKT continuous forest inventory data. A seral class approach was used and combined with fire regime condition class information then, applied to the landscape to create the modified fuelbed. This crosswalk of data served as the Nation’s first example of tribally-driven corrections for a federal fuel modeling system. The discovery that bad data was driving bad policy on the CSKT reservation resulted in a major restoration of funding for forest and fuels management on the reservation.