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Warner scientists studying impacts of High Park Fire

June 14, 2013

In response to one of the worst wildfires in Colorado history, scientists from CSU's Warner College of Natural Resources are leading a first of its kind, large-scale wildfire impact study on the High Park Fire in partnership with Colorado's newest research facility, the National Ecological Observatory Network.

The study is providing critical data to the communities still working to repair and restore major water quality, erosion and ecosystem restoration issues in an area spanning more than 136 square miles.

Enhancing wildfire research

Supported by a National Science Foundation RAPID grant, the project is integrating airborne remote sensing data collected by NEON’s Airborne Observation Platform (AOP) with ground-based data from a targeted field campaign conducted by CSU researchers. This is the first time a comprehensive airborne remote sensing system of this caliber has been used to enhance research on wildfire causes and impacts. The system detected remaining vegetation, identified plant species, ash cover, soil properties and other details to help illustrate how the fire burned – over the span of the entire fire scar.

CSU’s research team for the project is comprised of 11 scientists across multiple disciplines and is led by project principal investigator Michael Lefsky, associate professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability and researcher with CSU's Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory. The project has been conducted in collaboration with local, state and federal agencies and land managers to enable solution-oriented results that will best support restoration needs of the community.