Research at The Fire Economics & Management Laboratory is engaged in a variety of unique research efforts. Current and recent projects are summarized below and many have links to working papers or to formal publications.
In 2002 the federal government embarked on replacing the national fire preparedness budgeting and planning systems (NFMAS and FIREPRO) with a new system known as FPA. FPA is an interagency performance based planning and budgeting model. The first phase of FPA, known as FPA-PM (preparedness module) is to model initial attack and fire use resource use, performance and the budgets needed for increasing levels of performance. The FPA-PM is an economic-based model and the economics of FPA-PM have been designed here at the Fire Economics Laboratory. Additional information on FPA can be obtained at http://fpa.nifc.gov/. For detailed information on the Fire Economics Laboratory Projects supporting FPA click on the Fire Program Analysis tab.
As part of the McIntire-Stennis forestry research program in the College of Natural Recourses and the Department of Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Stewardship, we recently completed an evaluation of fuels treatment along Colorado’s Front Range. This study consisted of a major survey of residents in Larimer and Boulder Counties to estimate their willingness to pay for different types of fuels treatments. This was the first study to compare willingness to pay for residents of the wildland urban interface (WUI) with urban residents. Estimates from the study show that WUI residents were willing to pay more than urban residents and that residents of Boulder County were willing to pay more than residents of Larimer Counts. Full study results by Howell, Rideout and Reich are in preparation for publication.
The Black Hills project aims to estimate relationships between fuels management options and wildfire occurrence and intensity on the Black Hills National Forest (BHNF). We aim to establish statistically valid relationships between fuel loads and forest management strategies, as well as between fuels management and fire frequency and intensity. These relationships will be addressed at various scale levels. Scale levels will depend on the scale of the data available, but may include the stand and watershed level. Establishing these relationships will enhance the understanding of the impacts that management may have on wildfire.
There is an extensive amount of data available for the BHNF, some of which dates as far back as the 1950’s. In part, we have collected historical data on wildfire, prescribed burning, and thinning activities, as well as data on current fuel loading, weather, vegetation types/ structure, and topographic variables. At this time we are working on developing regressions relating current fuel loads to previous management activities and disturbances, as well as physical aspects of the area. We are also developing a wildfire risk function to predict risk based on predicted current fuel loads, past management activities and physical aspects. This is a cooperative research study involving Doug Rideout, Robin Reich, and Susan Howell from CSU and Evan Mercer and Jeff Prestemon from the USDA Forest Service Southeast Station in North Carolina.