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Individual Highlight

Wildfire Prevention Pays Big Dividends

Photo of Tribal Fire Fighting Team.  Forest ServiceTribal Fire Fighting Team. Forest ServiceSnapshot : Wildfire prevention efforts on tribal lands in the United States have benefits that likely exceed costs by at least tenfold

Principal Investigators(s) :
Prestemon, Jeffrey P.  
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2012
Highlight ID : 166


Forest Service scientists partnered with their agency colleagues, scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and wildfire mitigation specialists from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, and the States of Florida and Utah to analyze how wildfire prevention education and other wildfire prevention efforts can lead to reduced human-caused wildfires.

By comparing historical wildfire ignition rates with detailed data on wildfire prevention, and data from the Florida Forest Service, among other factors, the scientists were able to identify the effects of overall prevention efforts and the effects of individual prevention efforts on wildfire occurrences. Research showed that, for a small investment in prevention of a $500,00 per year in the early 2000s, the State of Florida has saved more than $3 million in suppression expenditures and $12 million in losses of structures, timber, and economic disruptions.

Funded primarily by the Joint Fire Science Program and the National Fire Plan, this research is the first to quantify how fire prevention efforts lead to statistically significant and economically important reductions in unwanted wildfires. This research has led to new insights into the types of actions that are most effective at reducing unwanted wildfires. The findings are being used to update existing wildfire management software that is used by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and other agencies.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • National Forest System, Southern Research station, FS Regions 3-5
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology, Bureau of Land Management, Department of the InteriorBureau of Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior, State of Florida, Florida Forest Service, State of Utah

Program Areas