Non-industrial private forests (NIPFs) and public forests in the United States generate many non-market benefits for landholders and society generally. These values can be both enhanced and diminished by wildfire management. This paper considers the challenges of supporting economically efficient allocation of wildfire suppression resources in a social cost-benefit analysis framework when non-market values are important. These challenges include substantial gaps in scientific understanding about how the spatial and temporal provision of non-market values are affected by wildfire, the limited utility of benefit transfer in wildfire assessment, a lack of studies that have estimated marginal willingness-to-pay to conserve non-market values, violation of consumer budget constraints, and the infeasibility of valuing indigenous cultural heritage. These challenges present serious impediments to adapting price-based decision-support tools to accommodate non-market values and support decision-making consistent with contemporary federal wildfire policy. Departure from the historic range and variability of ecological conditions is proposed as a complementary framework to support wildfire management decisions when non-market values are important on NIPF and public forestland.
Venn, Tyron J.; Calkin, David E. 2009. Challenges of socio-economically evaluating wildfire management on non-industrial private and public forestland in the western United States. Small-scale Forestry. 8: 43-61.