Motivated by the combination of high wildfire risk and the concentration of substantial social and economic values within the study area, a collaboration involving the Rocky Mountain Research Station, the Bureau of Land Management, the University of Colorado, and a local wildfire council conducted research on wildfire risk faced by wildland-urban interface homeowners in western Colorado. The unique research effort pairs parcel level wildfire risk assessments conducted by wildfire professionals with residents’ perceptions of wildfire risk.
The researchers found that despite high levels of awareness and concern about wildfire, there is a general underestimation of property-specific, overall wildfire risk by residents. Most residents reported lower risk categories than the wildfire professional did for five of the ten property attributes assessed. This information is being used to develop wildfire education efforts that seek to improve residents’ understanding of the sources of wildfire risk on their properties and subsequently encourage residents to mitigate that risk to facilitate the resilience of communities threatened by wildfire.