by DE Calkin, JD Cohen, MA Finney, MP Thompson

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111 (2): 746-751


High-loss wildfire events are occurring with increasing frequency. This paper proposes using strategic risk management and decision-making concepts to incorporate the factors and relationships between extreme-weather wildfires, landscape conditions, and home ignition/destruction in the urban-wildland interface. Results of the investigation suggest the application of principles from decision science and risk management may be effective in reducing the costly impacts of wildfires on land management agencies, first responders, and affected communities. This approach calls for wildfire mitigation programs to be revaluated and restructured to focus on risk analysis; and to provide land management agencies, first responders, and affected communities with the tools to reduce the impacts of wildfires. The case study also demonstrates that fuel treatment actions (i.e. prescribed burns) often have limited effectiveness and needs to be tailored to specific conditions and objectives. Furthermore, in isolation fuel treatment will not be successful in stopping wildfires. Instead, there needs to be a greater focus on the house ignition zone in order to prevent the destruction of structures. Ultimately, the results of the investigation demonstrate that creating fire-adapted communities, successful and efficient wildfire response, and resilient landscapes can be achieved through a risk-sharing approach.

Region: Boulder, Colorado
Publication Type: Journal article
Keywords: policy, residential, urban planning, urban-wildland interface, and wildfire