Spotlight: Tahoe Uses Imagery For Wildfire Prevention

By | June 21, 2004 | Feature

Longmont, Colo.-based DigitalGlobe’s high-resolution QuickBird satellite images and Native Communities Development Corporation’s (NCDC) proprietary remote-sensing technology will be combined to aid with wildfire risk-assessment and emergency-response planning in California.

The collaboration was assured upon the recent award of a contract from the Tahoe Basin Fire Safe Council in Lake Tahoe, Calif., to the Wildfire Consulting Services Division of Davey Resource Group (DRG) and NCDC. The assessment and planning area covers the unincorporated fire districts located on the California side of the Lake Tahoe Basin.

The combined geo-technologies would be used to identify and map wildfire threats, including hazardous fuel accumulations, flammable roofing materials, and all major roads and structures located within each area. Analysis of the QuickBird images will enable DRG’s wildfire specialists and ground-survey crews to target the areas of greatest concern for detailed fire-risk assessments. By incorporating the imagery into detailed GIS-based maps and resource inventories, DRG’s wildfire specialists will be able to prepare plans that will assist fire managers and emergency planners during critical evacuation and suppression activities.

An estimated 300 square miles of DigitalGlobe’s 60-centimeter-resolution QuickBird satellite imagery will be used in the project, in conjunction with advanced remote sensing, feature-extraction and three-dimensional mapping techniques to design and conduct a wildfire risk and hazard assessment. The goal is to develop mitigation plans for each fire protection district.

The final product, to be delivered to the Tahoe Basin Fire Safe Council in August would detail risk assessments and mitigation proposals for each district and adjacent public lands, including detailed geographic information system maps, public reviews, and recommendations for continued public education.

—Paul Dykewicz

(Chuck Herring, DigitalGlobe, 303/682-3820)

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