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In the news:

As a result, local officials have little incentive to stop a high-risk development when they stand to reap the property tax rewards without bearing the full risks. “The consequences of those development decisions aren’t being felt by the people who are making them,” says Rasker…

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In the news:

Protecting forest-edge homes from wildfires will become intolerably expensive unless western communities change the way they approve development, a Montana research group says. Taxpayers subsidize irresponsible building when federal money is used to fight wildland fires, Headwaters Economics says in series of studies. Unless changes are made in the way homes are approved, sited, financed, insured and protected, the $3 billion national firefighting budget will erupt into an unsustainable burden, the group says…

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In the news:

...That economist, Ray Rasker with Headwaters Economics, suggested that making local governments responsible for some of these firefighting costs might motivate local leaders to practice smarter land-use planning by denying development plans that scatter homes around the fringes of heavily forested areas. Local government participation in wildfire suppression costs is an idea that could gain political traction, and county commissioners had better brace for it. Rural fire departments – funded by taxpayers – suppress all other structural fires. Why shouldn’t they participate in the cost of defending homes in the so-called WUI, wildlands urban interface, when wildfire strikes?…

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In the news:

The West's upcoming wildfire season holds the high risk of again being long, expensive and dangerous, with an acceleration of alarming trends that include more and bigger fires, and increased dangers and costs associated with the need to defend private homes. Unfortunately, what we have tried so far is not adequate to prepare for these developments... Now is the time to add a third idea that would improve local land use planning and bring a level of cost accountability to the local governments that permit new homes and subdivisions. Today, national taxpayers fund much of the cost to suppress wildfires, and local governments do not face a financial risk when permitting homes on dangerous, fire-prone lands…

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In the news:

While the fires that broke out last week San Diego County are now almost fully contained, California is bracing for what could be the worst fire season ever. Economist Ray Rasker, Executive Director of Headwaters Economics, joins Take Two to talk about what people can do to adjust to the increasing risk of wildfires… http://media.scpr.org/audio/upload/2014/05/20/20140520_drought-6c9aac81.mp3

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In the news:

…The interfaces are high-fire-risk regions where homes, subdivisions and communities butt up against chaparral, conifers and other flammable vegetation. Ray Rasker, executive director of Headwaters Economics, an independent research group in Bozeman, Mont., said the federal government can't tell developers where to build — that's up to local governments — but is obligated to spend whatever it takes to fight wildfires and protect property. "It is a classic case of a moral hazard, where you have created a risky situation and the risks and the consequences of the behavior are borne by somebody else," he said.…

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In the news:

…Researchers say a potent combination of climate change and homebuilding near wildfire-prone areas is already translating into bigger, longer, more dangerous fires, and none of those trends are showing signs of letting up. "Fire is a big issue," said Ray Rasker, executive director of Headwaters Economics, a nonpartisan research group focused on land management. "When you live in the West, you live with fire."…

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Newsletter: April 2014

Research Update: April 2014 Study Finds No Evidence Firewise Lowers Suppression Costs While Firewise helps to increase homeowner and firefighter safety, our study finds no evidence of a relationship between wildfire suppression costs and Firewise participation. Local Responses to Wildfire Risks Are Limited These eight case studies highlight that most western communities are doing little […]

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In the news:

…In a series of presentations at the Colorado Wildland Fire Conference in Glenwood Springs this week, Rasker, head of the Montana-based research group Headwaters Economics, discussed a controversial aspect of limiting fire devastation in the West. Everything is increasing — from length of fire seasons to temperatures — and the only thing humans can limit is development in Colorado’s wildfire zones, Rasker said…

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In the news:

…You may be asking, “Non-labor what?” Non-labor income includes things like investment and retirement income, and medical or economic hardship payments. Headwaters Economics recently released an in-depth study of non-labor income across the West to better understand how it affects communities…