The Wildland/Urban Interface: Cheatgrass, Fire Danger, and Fuel Breaks

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Committee Chair

Sally J. Westmoreland, Ph.D.

Committee Members

Jennifer Vollmer, Ph.D.
Jordan Henk, M.S.


Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) is an early-maturing, invasive grass species and, when it is dry, it is easily ignitable and fuels the spread of wildfires (Bossard, Randall, & Hoshovsky, 2000). The integrity of the wilderness as well as the safety of urban communities is at great risk from cheatgrass invasion because it results in a higher frequency of fires. The primary objective in approaching the management of this exotic phenomenon include using a GIS to create models of susceptible cheatgrass habitat and high-fire danger that will be combined to locate overlapping areas which will indicate possible fuel break zones. This easy to use modeling template application will be accompanied by a user’s manual to provide the BASF Corporation, land managers, city planners, and insurance companies with a GIS tool for decision support on protecting urban communities and surrounding wildlands. The case study used for the initial design and implementation of this application is the wildland/urban interface area of Big Bear, California.

Full text is available at the University of Redlands


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