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Modeling fuel treatment leverage: Encounter rates, risk reduction, and suppression cost impacts

Posted date: December 14, 2017
Publication Year: 
Publication Series: 
Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Source: Forests. 8: 469.


The primary theme of this study is the cost-effectiveness of fuel treatments at multiple scales of investment. We focused on the nexus of fuel management and suppression response planning, designing spatial fuel treatment strategies to incorporate landscape features that provide control opportunities that are relevant to fire operations. Our analysis explored the frequency and magnitude of fire-treatment encounters, which are critical determinants of treatment efficacy. Additionally, we examined avoided area burned, avoided suppression costs, and avoided damages, and combined all three under the umbrella of leverage to explore multiple dimensions with which to characterize return on investment. We chose the Sierra National Forest, California, USA, as our study site, due to previous work providing relevant data and analytical products, and because it has the potential for large, long-duration fires and corresponding potential for high suppression expenditures. Modeling results generally confirmed that fire-treatment encounters are rare, such that median suppression cost savings are zero, but in extreme years, savings can more than offset upfront investments. Further, reductions in risk can expand areas where moderated suppression response would be appropriate, and these areas can be mapped in relation to fire control opportunities.


Thompson, Matthew P.; Riley, Karin L.; Loeffler, Dan; Haas, Jessica R. 2017. Modeling fuel treatment leverage: Encounter rates, risk reduction, and suppression cost impacts. Forests. 8: 469.