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Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity (MTBS) is a multi-year project designed to consistently map the burn severity and perimeters of fires across all lands of the United States from 1984 and beyond. The data generated by MTBS will be used to identify national trends in burn severity, providing information necessary to monitor the effectiveness and effects of the National Fire Plan and Healthy Forests Restoration Act. MTBS is sponsored by the Wildland Fire Leadership Council (WFLC), a multi-agency oversight group responsible for implementing and coordinating the National Fire Plan and Federal Wildland Fire Management Policies. The project is conducted through a partnership between the U.S. Geological Survey National Center for Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) and the USDA Forest Service Remote Sensing Applications Center (RSAC).

The MTBS project objective is to provide consistent, 30 meter resolution burn severity data and fire perimeters that will serve four primary user groups:

  1. National policies and policy makers such as the National Fire Plan and WFLC which require information about long-term trends in burn severity and recent burn severity impacts within vegetation types, fuel models, condition classes, and land management activities.
  2. Field management units that benefit from mid to broad scale GIS-ready maps and data for pre- and post-fire assessment and monitoring. Field units that require finer scale burn severity data will also benefit from increased efficiency, reduced costs, and data consistency by starting with MTBS data.
  3. Existing databases from other comparably scaled programs, such as Fire Regime and Condition Class (FRCC) within LANDFIRE, that will benefit from MTBS data for validation and updating of geospatial data sets.
  4. Academic and agency research entities interested in fire severity data over significant geographic and temporal extents.

MTBS is similar to other image processing and analysis methods currently utilized by the USGS and USFS for existing post-fire burn severity mapping efforts. The USGS Landsat image archive provides a consistent and continuous source of 30 meter resolution data for mapping burn severity of all fires greater than 1000 acres in the west and 500 acres in the east.

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