Metadata Updated: November 12, 2020

FCCS OverviewThe Fuel Characteristic Classification System (FCCS) calculates fuel characteristics and their potential fire behavior. FCCS reference fuel beds represent fuels throughout much of North America and were compiled from published literature, fuels photo series, other fuels data sets and expert opinion. FCCS fuel beds have been mapped in LANDFIRE and are preloaded in the Fuel and Fire Tools application ( fuel bed mapping in LANDFIREThe LANDFIRE fuels team collaborated with the Fire and Environmental Research Applications (FERA) team of the US Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station on the FCCS layer. Rule-based methods for mapping FCCS fuel beds were developed across the conterminous US (CONUS) and Alaska based on the LANDFIRE Existing Vegetation Type (EVT) layer. The EVT-Fuels layer is based on a NatureServe vegetation classification for the conterminous US and Alaska; vegetation types and descriptions can be viewed at Development of the crosswalk was led by FERA team members Don McKenzie and Anne Andreu, who identified vegetation characteristics of the EVTs and their correspondence to existing FCCS fuelbeds. Each FCCS is assigned at least one Baileys ecoregion and a vegetation form (e.g., conifer forest, hardwood forest, mixed forest, shrubland, grassland or slash). These fuelbed attributes were used, along with the fuelbed name and description, to assign a representative fuelbed to each EVT. Where no good correspondence was found, Andreu created new fuelbeds (97 total for the CONUS and Alaska).Crosswalk rules are available on the FERA website[SJP1] ( and include: western Conterminous United States (Excel file)(116 kb) eastern Conterminous United States (Excel file)(34 kb) Alaska (Excel file)(25 kb)Applications to modeling and managementAny attribute associated with a FCCS fuel bed can be mapped at the same resolution as the LANDFIRE layer. FCCS geospatial databases are particularly rich in attributes. Not only can the default fuel loads by fuel stratum (e.g., canopy, shrubs, herbs, downed wood, litter and duff) and category (e.g., tree canopy layer, snags, ladder fuels) be displayed, but also any output from the FCCS calculator (Riccardi et al. 2007) associated with the FCCS fire potentials (Sandberg et al. 2007) can be estimated across the conterminous US (CONUS) via a lookup table produced by the FCCS calculator. Mapped FCCS attributes can provide input layers for current and future modeling efforts at multiple scales. For example, the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) used a 1 km2 CONUS FCCS map, in conjunction with the BlueSky-EM modeling framework (available from, to develop a national emissions inventory for air-quality modeling and used fuel loadings from FCCS fuelbeds as the basis of the inventory. Over the next century, land-use change is expected to intensify, and wildfire extent and severity are expected to increase. Modeling vegetation, fuel and carbon dynamics in response to climatic change and disturbance will require estimates of fuels to complement satellite-based estimates. The FCCS fuelbed layer can be updated efficiently and regularly and is a key dataset for continental- and even global-scale models.FCCS LimitationsThe FCCS mapping rules for were based on qualitative reasoning, which are more difficult to replicate than if there were clear quantitative guidelines. The EVT-Fuels-to-fuelbed crosswalk rules often allowed for several possibilities for fuelbeds; often two or more could have been used. Expert opinion was used to assign the most representative fuelbed and to determine where additional fuelbed development was necessary.Maps can be deceptive in that they give a false sense of accuracy, particularly if they are drawn at much coarser resolution (e.g., broad vegetation types) than the processes with which they are associated (e.g., fuel succession). Applying mapped data at inappropriate scales almost guarantees misleading inferences. For example, national FCCS fuelbed mapping is appropriate for national-scale air-quality modeling, but not for local assessments of fuel heterogeneity or stand-level fire-behavior modeling. It's strongly recommend that the FCCS fuelbed map be considered a starting point and customized to represent sampled fuels within a project area.

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Metadata Date February 16, 2017
Metadata Created Date November 12, 2020
Metadata Updated Date November 12, 2020
Reference Date(s) February 14, 2017 (publication)
Frequency Of Update continual

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Resource Type Dataset
Metadata Date February 16, 2017
Metadata Created Date November 12, 2020
Metadata Updated Date November 12, 2020
Reference Date(s) February 14, 2017 (publication)
Responsible Party (Point of Contact)
Contact Email
Access Constraints Use Constraints: None, Access Constraints: None
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Bbox North Lat 51.64968101623376
Bbox South Lat 22.765446426860603
Bbox West Long -127.98775263969655
Coupled Resource
Frequency Of Update continual
Licence See access and use constraints information.
Metadata Language
Metadata Type geospatial
Spatial Data Service Type
Spatial Reference System
Spatial Harvester True

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