Local Responses to Wildfire Risks Are Limited

This study reviews how western communities are addressing wildfire risk, how they have responded to recent major fires, and useful lessons and public policy insights for the future.

  • Every community studied, whether rural or more densely populated, had significant amounts of WUI residential growth, a relatively recent large fire, and remains at high risk from wildfires.
  • The case studies highlight that western communities are struggling to respond to dangers from future wildfires.
  • Eight lessons and two policy recommendations emerged for how to enhance public safety and reduce future suppression costs.

wildfire threatening home

Case Studies and Lessons Learned

As wildfires worsen across the West, Headwaters Economics is researching the relationship between residential development in the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) and escalating expenses from protecting lives and property.

As part of this work, we sought to better understand whether and how communities are altering the way they confront wildfire risk, and to extract useful lessons and public policy insights.

The resulting report (PDF) is based on eight case studies of cities and counties throughout the western United States.