Land Use Planning to Reduce Wildfire Risk

Case studies show how five urban areas in the West are using innovative land use planning tools to adapt to the increasing risks from wildfires.

  • Wildfires increasingly are an urban problem, often repeatedly impacting the same communities over time.
  • Climate change impacts coupled with ongoing development within the wildland-urban interface (WUI) exacerbate wildfire risks.
  • This report profiles how five urban areas in the West are using land use planning tools to reduce wildfire risks.
  • Individual case studies provide valuable examples and lessons for other communities to learn from in their efforts to mitigate wildfire risks.

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Wildfires across the American West are increasing in frequency, size, and severity. The impacts from climate change, coupled with ongoing development within the wildland-urban interface (WUI), further exacerbate the risks from wildfires. In response, some urban areas in the West are addressing the growing threat of wildfires using innovative land use planning tools.

This report [and high resolution print version] profiles how five cities and counties in the region—including Austin, Texas, Boulder, Colorado, Flagstaff, Arizona, San Diego, California, and Santa Fe, New Mexico—are adapting to the increasing risks of wildfires through improved land use planning.

While each case study demonstrates a unique approach toward wildfire mitigation, together they represent a suite of land use planning strategies (Summary Table) that can be selectively applied elsewhere. To read the synopsis, see below or click on the Resources links to the right to read the full report and individual case study profiles.

Headwaters Economics also is working with Wildfire Planning International to provide Community Planning Assistance for Wildfire (CPAW).