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Fuel Loading Guide

Post-treatment Fuel Loading Guide

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Guide to Sagebrush Birds


Guide for Quantifying Fuels in the Sagebrush Steppe and Juniper Woodlands of the Great Basin

SageSTEP Fuels Guide Cover Fuels and resource specialists are often required to estimate fuel loadings to predict fire behavior, recommend fuel treatments, or restore an area to its natural fire regime. These tasks have become more difficult due to invasive species and woodland encroachment that have caused extensive changes in the fire regimes of sagebrush steppe over the past 150 years. The Sagebrush Steppe Treatment Evaluation Project (SageSTEP), funded by a grant from the Joint Fire Science Program and in collaboration with the University of Idaho’s Department of Rangeland Ecology and Management, has produced a Guide for Quantifying Fuels in the Sagebrush Steppe and Juniper Woodlands of the Great Basin (BLM Technical Note 430) to help users better estimate percent cover, stem density and fuel loadings for a particular site.

The Guide for Quantifying Fuels is based on vegetation and fuels data collected by SageSTEP researchers at study sites in six states throughout the Great Basin for two years prior to implementing land management treatments. Designed similar to the Natural Fuels Photo Series produced by USDA Forest Service Fire and Environmental Research Applications team (FERA), this guide provides the necessary landscape-level inputs required by fire behavior and fire effects models along with building custom fuelbeds. Using photographs and tables that provide the range of values for each vegetation type, users should be able to quickly appraise a site by fuel stratum.

The guide is divided into four sub-guides (one sagebrush and three woodland) based on regional differences in site physiognomy and ecology: Sagebrush Steppe, Pinyon-Juniper, Utah Juniper, and Western Juniper. In the Sagebrush Steppe Guide, sections are aggregated by sagebrush and total grass cover, and in the woodland guides by successional phases based on increasing tree density and cover. Within each group or phase, four photos depict the range of canopy cover by life-form. Photos are arranged by increasing cover of the dominant overstory vegetation.

The Guide for Quantifying Fuels is based on the user’s ocular estimate of the vegetation and fuels on the site. Due to the variety of variables included, the utility of the guide extends across many disciplines beyond fire. Other applications could include habitat assessment for wildlife, restoration monitoring, grazing allotment allocation and assessment and could even be applied to carbon sequestration models. 

Hard copies of the guide are now available and can be requested free of charge by sending an email with your mailing address (no P.O. Boxes), phone number, and desired number of copies to

A PDF version of the guide is available here (8.1 MB).

An online version of the guide is available at