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Wildfire, Wildlands, and People: Understanding and Preparing for Wildfire in the Wildland-Urban Interface
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Fire has historically played a fundamental ecological role in many of America's wildland areas. However, the rising number of homes in the wildland-urban interface (WUI), associated impacts on lives and property from wildfire, and escalating costs of wildfire management have led to an urgent need for communities to become "fire-adapted." We present maps of the conterminous United States that illustrate historical natural fire regimes, the wildland-urban interface, and the number and location of structures burned since 1999. We outline a sampler of actions, programs, and community planning and development options to help decrease the risks of and damages from wildfire.

Key Points Covered

  • People who live in the wildland-urban interface in particular may face increasing risk and property damage from wildfires of all sizes in coming decades
  • Homes and other structures across the United States in a wide range of vegetation types have already been lost to wildfire.
  • Numerous opportunities are available for planners, developers, and others to help wildland-urban interface communities adapt to wildfire through education, planning and mitigation, that can help limit the number of ignitions, reduce flammable vegetation and create Firewise homes.


Stein, S.M.; Menakis, J.; Carr, M.A.; Comas, S.J.; Stewart, S.I.; Cleveland, H.; Bramwell, L.; Radeloff, V.C. 2013. Wildfire, wildlands, and people: understanding and preparing for wildfire in the wildland-urban interface—a Forests on the Edge report. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-299. Fort Collins, CO. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 36 p.