Reducing Wildfire Risk to Communities

This report outlines a number of solutions to alter the pace, scale, and pattern of future development in the Wildland-Urban Interface.

  • Wildfires increasingly are expensive and dangerous, burning homes, and consuming agency budgets. Defending private homes next to federal lands drives a large portion of these costs and risks.
  • Attempts to mitigate wildfire risk–such as voluntary landowner education and fuels reduction–while important, alone are insufficient for the magnitude of the growing wildfire problem, which is exacerbated by a warming climate and continued home building.
  • This report outlines new ideas that could significantly reduce costs and risks by making future home building on fire-prone lands safer. Getting the incentives right is essential; with negative consequences for decisions that increase risk, and positive rewards for decisions that reduce risk.

wildfire approaching subdivision

Solutions for Controlling the Pace, Scale, and Pattern of Future Development in the Wildland-Urban Interface

Wildfires increasingly are expensive and dangerous, burning homes, and consuming agency budgets. A large portion of the costs and risks are related to the need to defend private homes next to federal lands.

Attempts to mitigate wildfire risk–such as voluntary landowner education and fuels reduction–while important, alone are insufficient for the magnitude of the growing wildfire problem, which is exacerbated by a warming climate and continued home building.

To more fully address future wildfire risks, this white paper (PDF) offers nine ideas for how best to alter the pace, scale, and pattern of future home development. Getting the incentives right is essential. There should be negative financial consequences for private land management decisions that increase risk, and positive financial rewards for decisions that reduce risk.

A similar journal article, describes the trends in wildfires, the challenge of defending private property, the solutions tried so far, and outlines new ideas that could significantly reduce costs and risks by altering the pattern of future home building on fire-prone lands. It was published in the March-April 2015 edition of The Solutions Journal.

We also offer an extensive slideshow presentation(PDF) that illustrates the factors behind growing wildfire risks along with a brief analysis of potential solutions. Both are part of ongoing wildfire research by Headwaters Economics.