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Do fuel treatments in U.S. national forests reduce wildfire suppression costs and property damage?Author(s): J. Sánchez; J. Loomis; A. González-Cabán; D. Rideout; R. Reich
Source: Journal of Natural Resources Policy Research. 9(1): 42-73
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Pacific Southwest Research Station
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DescriptionThis article tests two hypotheses on whether forest fuel reduction treatments (prescribed burning and mechanical methods) reduce wildfire suppression costs and property damages. Data were collected on fuel treatments, fire suppression costs, and property damage associated with wildfires in United States National Forests over a five-year period throughout the continental United States. The continental U.S. pooled data model results show that overall, prescribed burning reduces suppression cost and both fuel treatment types reduce property damages. Further analysis was done to separate the data into seven geographic regions of the United States. Results of the multiple regressions show that in California and the northern Rockies, mechanical fuel treatments reduce wildfire suppression costs, while only in California did prescribed burning reduce the cost. The second hypothesis tested is that fuel treatments, by making wildfires less damaging and easier to control, may reduce property damage. This hypothesis is generally confirmed for hectares treated with prescribed burning in four out of five geographic regions that had a significant coefficient on prescribed fire. Mechanical fuel reduction had a significant effect in reducing property damage in two of the three regions.
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CitationSánchez, J.; Loomis, J.; González-Cabán, A.; Rideout, D.; Reich, R. 2019. Do fuel treatments in U.S. national forests reduce wildfire suppression costs and property damage? Journal of Natural Resources Policy Research. 9(1): 42-73. doi:10.5325/naturesopolirese.9.1.0042
Keywordsmechanical fuel reduction, prescribed burning, wildfires, wildland–urban interface
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