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Economics of wildland fire management

Calkin, David; Gebert, Krista. 2009. Economics of wildland fire management. Advances in Fire Practices, Fall 2009. Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center. Online:

Increased wildland fire activity and associated suppression costs over the last decade have significantly challenged federal agencies' ability to manage the nation's lands and meet public expectations. Three common factors have typically been identified to explain this increasing cost trend: 1) increased development within the wildland urban interface increasing the complexity, and therefore the cost of suppression activities (WUI), 2) climatic factors - both natural shifts and global climate change that increase wildland fire season length and intensity, and 3) increased fuels associated with successful fire suppression policies over the last 50 to 100 years increasing the likelihood of fire escape, more severe fire intensity, and larger fires. The recent Station Fire in Southern California provides a concrete example. Extensive development adjacent to wildland fuels, long term drought and heat, and the fact that the fire was burning in a very large area of continuous chaparral greater than 50 years old (likely, due at least in part to past successful fire suppression) created the conditions for an extremely challenging and expensive fire management environment.

Keywords: economics, wildland fire management, suppression costs

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Title: RMRS Other Publications: Economics of wildland fire management
Electronic Publish Date: December 9, 2010
Last Update:
December 9, 2010

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