Cheatgrass cover mapping and fire risk

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Fire risk in western North America has increased with increasing cover of cheatgrass, an invasive alien annual grass. The relationship between cheatgrass cover and fire risk was determined in a historically burned shrub-steppe community where cheatgrass cover ranged from 5 to 75%. Fire risk ranged from about 46% with an average of 12% cheatgrass cover to 100% when cheatgrass cover was greater than 45% based on prediction confidence limits. Reflectance of the green and red bands of aerial photographs, were related to senescent cheatgrass cover to create fine resolution cheatgrass cover and fire risk maps. This assessment technique will allow land managers to prioritize lands for restoration to reduce fire risk in the shrub-steppe.

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