Assessing Wildfire and Populations at Risk

A new tool helps the City of Santa Fe, New Mexico assess wildfire and populations at risk.

This tool was produced in partnership with the City of Santa Fe Fire Department and the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station to help the community in assessing wildfire and populations at risk.

User Guide, Methods, and Data Sources (PDF)
Data as GIS Shapefile

The tool is designed to help city staff, residents, and land managers in assessing wildfire and populations at risk, focusing on where the highest risk of wildfire overlaps with populations that may have social, economic, and health disadvantages in order to more effectively and efficiently reduce risk.

Understanding where populations are most vulnerable can help the City of Santa Fe prioritize resources before, during, and after wildfires.

For example, the tool can help:
• Target education and outreach to those areas most at risk from wildfire and with the most at-risk populations.

• Customize education and outreach materials in multiple languages for neighborhoods that have low English proficiency and are at risk from wildfire.

• Prioritize risk-reduction activities and mitigation funding based on the specific vulnerable population characteristics (for example, in less affluent neighborhoods).

• Develop wildfire response and operational plans for specific neighborhoods. For example, portions of the city with a higher proportion of disabled, elderly, or very young residents may require different evacuation plans.

Assessing Wildfire and Populations at Risk

The tool provides information for each census tract in the City of Santa Fe and the Greater Santa Fe area. It uses wildfire exposure data from the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station based on simulated wildfire outputs given vegetation, topography, slope, aspect, weather, and ignition patterns.

The tool uses variables about at-risk populations from the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest release of the American Community Survey (ACS) five-year estimates, which represent the socioeconomic conditions during a five-year rolling survey period.

Read more about tips for using the tool in our User Guide, Methods, and Data Sources document; or read about additional wildfire research by Headwaters Economics.

This tool was created as part of the Community Planning Assistance for Wildfire (CPAW) program, which provides land use planning support to communities to reduce wildfire risk. The program is supported by the U.S. Forest Service, the LOR Foundation, and other private charitable foundations.