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Drones in Oaks: Mapping the River Fire Impact on Oaks at Hopland Research and Extension Center

Sean Hogan and Maggi Kelly, UC Division of Agriculture & Natural Resources, Statewide Program in Informatics and GIS (IGIS)


This project explores the utility of multispectral cameras aboard UAVs to map extent and pattern of vegetation change after the River Fire (2018) at the Hopland Research and Extension Center (HREC). Using imagery gathered with a multispectral camera on an uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV), we mapped 1) the amount and pattern of residual green vegetation post-fire, 2) the degradation of canopy condition, and 3) individual tree scorching.  Overall, 82% of the canopy burned during the fire (at all severities), and response to fire was highly variable. There was evidence of some topographic refugia, with more non-burned canopy present in topographic depressions. Within the fire perimeter, the largest declines in NDVI were in closed canopy stands not in topographic depressions, and isolated trees showed less damage than continuous cover.