THE 2012 PINE CREEK, MONTANA, WILDFIRE: A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS USING THE NORMALIZED BURN RATIO AND NORMALIZED DIFFERENCE VEGETATIVE INDEX
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AbstractSevere wildfires are an all-too-common feature of the Western American landscape. Worse still, the frequency of such fires is on the increase. Each year, new wildfires add hundreds of thousands of fire-damaged acres to the millions of acres of forests burned in previous years. While some of these areas can recover naturally, forests that suffer prolonged, severe burning may not recover without human assistance. Due to the increase in frequency of such events, America’s reforestation needs have exceeded available reforestation resources (e.g., seedlings for replanting, forestry professionals experienced in wildfire remediation, labor for replanting and maintenance, etc.). Passage of the Federal REPLANT Act in November of 2021 means that more resources will be available in the future, but forestry managers must still decide which of the most severely damaged and at-risk areas of the American West should be given priority for remediation. Two commonly used tools for evaluating wildfire damage are the Normalized Burn Ratio (NBR) and the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). Using reflectance data captured by satellites, these tools can be used to assess 1) wildfire boundaries, 2) relative wildfire severity, and 3) whether natural regrowth in a previously burned area is taking place. The goal of this project is to assess the effectiveness of NBR and NDVI values using the 2012 Pine Creek (Montana) Fire as a test case.