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Research Highlights

Individual Highlight

Maps Locate the Wildland-urban Interface Across the United States

Photo of Cover of the WUI Atlas document.Cover of the WUI Atlas document.Snapshot : Exciting new U.S. Forest Service research products provide visually-appealing, high-resolution maps of wildland-urban interface (WUI) areas across the United States. A user-friendly book displays state maps that are easy to understand. The underlying data sets are also available on-line for those who want to do fine-grained analysis of WUI locations at the state or local level.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Fisher, Cherie LeBlanc 
Research Location : Contiguous 48 U.S. states
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2015
Highlight ID : 859


Wildland-urban interface (WUI) areas, where houses and other development meet or mix with undeveloped natural areas, are places of transition, change, and great fire danger. Wildland fires have recently been in the news for burning down rural towns, second homes, and businesses in many states, especially the drought-stricken West. The fires create smoke that endangers wildlife and causes visibility and health problems for people living miles away. New development and roads in the WUI also introduce or spread invasive plants and animals to natural areas. Knowledge of WUI locations is extremely useful for policy makers, land managers, fire managers, and others. Forest Service scientists studied the WUI in the United States for more than 10 years, developed and refined a scientifically based definition of the WUI, and created maps that show past, present, and projected future WUI locations. A new user-friendly atlas and related data files provide valuable information for anyone who wants to learn about WUI locations at the local, state, or national scale. The atlas has attracted media attention from local, national, and international outlets including USA Today, Science Daily, and public radio.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Susan I. Stewart, U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station (retired)
  • USDA Forest Service
  • David P. Helmers, Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Roger B. Hammer, School of Public Policy, Oregon State University
  • Sebasti├ín Martinuzzi, Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Volker C. Radeloff, Department of Forest Ecology and Management, University of Wisconsin-Madison