Our guest in this episode is John Norman, Director of Strategic Research and Development at Teren, in Lakewood, Colorado. Today, we’ll be talking about wildfire reclamation and the role of geospatial technology in this work.
The 2022 Hermits Peak fire in New Mexico was the biggest in the state’s history, and 60% of its coverage was on private land. Private land owners in this area vary greatly, from those who live off the land by cutting firewood, to those who have a secondary home there. These socioeconomic conditions make this fire one of the most unusual that John has worked on.
Because of the history and private ownership of the affected areas in Hermits Peak, there were thousands of individuals that needed to be contacted so the federal government could start the reclamation process. This was especially difficult because many people in the area do not use technology or are very skeptical of the government.
While also using publicly available terrain and satellite imagery, John and his team were rapidly flying LiDAR and 4-band imagery over the burned area. This process impressively only took about a week, despite covering around 600,000 acres. They were even able to analyze individual trees with the data they acquired.
These fires are occurring more often, so John believes that task forces will be established to immediately come in with technology to quantify exactly what areas are the most at risk. He also hopes to see geospatial technology used to mitigate risks in areas that are prone to fires before they even happen.