Rocky Mountain Research Station Publications

RMRS Online Publication - Journal Articles, External Publications, and Special Reports
The economics of fuel management: Wildfire, invasive plants, and the dynamics of sagebrush rangelands in the western United States


Taylor, Michael H.; Rollins, Kimberly; Kobayashi, Mimako; Tausch, Robin J. 2013. The economics of fuel management: Wildfire, invasive plants, and the dynamics of sagebrush rangelands in the western United States. Journal of Environmental Management. 126: 157-173.

doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2013.03.044

In this article we develop a simulation model to evaluate the economic efficiency of fuel treatments and apply it to two sagebrush ecosystems in the Great Basin of the western United States: the Wyoming Sagebrush Steppe and Mountain Big Sagebrush ecosystems. These ecosystems face the two most prominent concerns in sagebrush ecosystems relative to wildfire: annual grass invasion and native conifer expansion. Our model simulates long-run wildfire suppression costs with and without fuel treatments explicitly incorporating ecological dynamics, stochastic wildfire, uncertain fuel treatment success, and ecological thresholds. Our results indicate that, on the basis of wildfire suppression costs savings, fuel treatment is economically efficient only when the two ecosystems are in relatively good ecological health. We also investigate how shorter wildfire-return intervals, improved treatment success rates, and uncertainty about the location of thresholds between ecological states influence the economic efficiency of fuel treatments.

Keywords: fuel treatment, wildfire, sagebrush ecosystem, Great Basin, state-and-transition model, ecological thresholds


About PDFs: For best results, do not open the PDF in your Web browser. Right-click on the PDF link to download the PDF file directly to your computer. Click here for more PDF help.


Download Article
http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs_other/rmrs_2013_taylor_mh001.pdf

PDF File Size: 1.3 MB


Title: RMRS Other Publications: The economics of fuel management: Wildfire, invasive plants, and the dynamics of sagebrush rangelands in the western United States
Electronic Publish Date: September 11, 2013
Last Update:
September 11, 2013

RMRS Publications | Order a publication | Contact Us