Designing fuel sampling methods that accurately and efficiently assesses fuel loads at relevant spatial scales requires knowledge of each sample method’s strengths and tradeoffs.
Few studies have evaluated sampling methods as to their effectiveness in estimating accurate fuel loadings across all surface fuel components. In this study, we explored how sampling methods compare in their ability to assess downed woody debris loading and also how a different implementation of three techniques compare when sampling log, shrub, herb, litter, and duff load. These down woody techniques include: (1) microplot measurement, (2) photoload, and (3) planar intercept. We evaluate various sampling intensities and sub-methods on their precision and accuracy of downed dead woody fuel loadings. We evaluated each technique based on: (1) how its estimated loading compares to a reference sample; (2) how much time it requires to complete sampling; and (3) how much training is needed to implement it. Our goal was to provide a guide to the tradeoffs involved in using each of these fuel-load sampling techniques and provide suggestions for matching the appropriate sampling method to resource- and fire-management applications.