Remote Sensing

Department: CNRA

Program Description: CNRA is investing in high resolution data and analytical products for public safety and to protect ecosystems. Developing reliable base data such as remote sensing like LiDAR will improve predictivemodeling, project planning analytics, and long-term monitoring.

Program Impact: In addition to nearly $8 million dedicated to new LiDAR data collections across California , the remainder of CNRA’s Remote Sensing Portfolio (nearly $17 million) will deliver new remote sensing acquisitions, processed data products and analytics for application, including:

  • Establishment of the first remote sensing flux tower network in the California. This will collect data on water and carbon dynamics necessary to calibrate satellite- based data products and inform forest health, carbon, and management assessments.
  • Production of forest structure and individual tree information using high resolution data for applications including forest, post-fire, carbon, and biodiversity assessments to inform management interventions and fire and fuels mapping updates.
  • Statewide Vegetation Change Detection System to remotely detect disturbances in fire-prone areas of California. This will help identify impacts from fire, tree mortality and timber harvest and inform evaluations of forest cover loss and recovery. This will help determine where quick intervention is needed to prevent forest canopy loss and prevent native shrublands from converting to invasive grasses.
  • Statewide Wildfire and Forest Resilience Evaluation System blending field-based and remotely sensed data including water, biodiversity, forest, and carbon to spatially assess and quantify wildfire and forest ecosystem response to management including fuel reduction and forest health treatments. This will be a critical piece of an effective monitoring system.
  • Collect and process on-demand, remotely-sensed data and imagery to provide timely public safety information critical for assessing post-wildfire geologic and hydrologic hazards on state and federal responsibility areas.
  • Establish a wildfire resilience planning tool, called Planscape, which will help the wide array of wildfire resilience practitioners have the latest science and modeling at their fingertips as they design fuel breaks and forest health projects.

Resilience in Action:

LiDAR: In partnership with the USGS matching grants, California has already collected nearly 30 million acres of new LiDAR data throughout the Sierra Nevada and northern California. This fills in gaps and ensures that nearly every high fire risk region of the State has current LiDAR which will enable a detailed and updated understandingof the major fire impacts and risks across California’s critical fire-prone watersheds.

Planscape: In a public-private partnership with and the California Natural Resources Agency, the team has developed Planscape, a decision-support tool that makes it easier for planners to design wildfire resilience projects with additional environmental benefits, like biodiversity, carbon storage or even future climate modeling. The program uses State and federal data layers (like LiDAR) and models and developed an interactive user interface so the science interments from the State are easily accessible and usable to planners. Given the wide array of organizations implementing California’s $2.7B wildfire resilience program, Planscape will make it easier for State, Federal, Tribal and local foresters and environmental scientists to have consistent science and models at their fingertips when designing their projects. This will enable more precise targeting and program design. The tool is anticipated to be publicly available in late 2023.