Supporting wildfire management activities is frequently identified as a benefit of forest roads. As such, there is a growing body of research into forest road planning, construction, and maintenance to improve fire surveillance, prevention, access, and control operations. Of interest here is how road networks directly support fire control operations, and how managers incorporate that information into pre-season assessment and planning. In this communication we briefly review and illustrate how forest roads relate to recent advances in operationally focused wildfire decision support. We focus on two interrelated products used on the National Forest System and adjacent lands throughout the western USA: potential wildland fire operational delineations (PODs) and potential control locations (PCLs). We use real-world examples from the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest in Colorado, USA to contextualize these concepts and illustrate how fire analytics and local fire managers both identified roads as primary control features. Specifically, distance to road was identified as the most important predictor variable in the PCL boosted regression model, and 82% of manager-identified POD boundaries aligned with roads. Lastly, we discuss recommendations for future research, emphasizing roles for enhanced decision support and empirical analysis.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited