Fire & Economics
This study used a value of information approach to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of using satellite imagery as part of the Burn Area Emergency Response (BAER), a US federal program that identifies imminent post-wildfire threats to human life and safety, property and critical natural or cultural resources. It compared the costs associated with producing a Burn Area Reflectance Classification map and implementing a BAER when imagery from satellites (either Landsat or a commercial satellite) was available to when the response team relied on information collected solely by aerial reconnaissance. The case study included two evaluations with and without Burn Area Reflectance Classification products: (a) savings of up to US$51 000 for the Elk Complex wildfire incident request and (b) savings of a multi-incident map production program. Landsat is the most cost-effective way to input burn severity information into the BAER program, with savings of up to US$35 million over a 5-year period.
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Description: Webinar focuses on three critical areas of bioenergy and bioproducts research and development: 1) sustainable and economically efficient forest biomass management and production systems, 2) competitive low-emissions biofuels and bioenergy conversion technologies deployed in the forest sector, and 3) information and tools for decision making and policy analysis related to forest biomass utilization.
Presenter: Nate Anderson, PhD in Forest Resources Management from the State University of New York, an MS in Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology from the University of Maryland, and a BS in Biology from Bates College.
Study results suggest that weather is a primary driver of resource orders over the course of extended attack efforts on large fires. Incident Management Teams (IMTs) synthesize information about weather, fuels, and order resources based on expected fire growth rather than simply reacting to observed fire growth. Analysis shows that incident management teams are generally forward-looking and respond to expected rather than recently observed weather-driven fire behavior. These results may have important implications for forecasting resource needs and costs in a changing climate
Using a sample of 722 large fires from the western United States, we observe whether a fire interacted with a previous fire, the percent area of fires burned by previous fires, and the percent perimeter overlap with previous fires. Fires that interact with previous fires are likely to be larger and have lower total expenditures on average. Conditional on a fire encountering a previous fire, a greater extent of interaction with previous fires is associated with reduced fire size but higher expenditures, although the expenditure effect is small and imprecisely estimated. Subsequent analysis suggests that fires that interact with previous fires may be systematically different from other fires along several dimensions. We do not find evidence that interactions with previous fires reduce suppression expenditures for subsequent fires. Results suggest that previous fires may allow suppression opportunities that otherwise might not exist, possibly reducing fire size but increasing total expenditures.
Modelling the spatial prioritization of fuel treatments and their net effect on values at risk is an important area for applied work as economic damages from wildfire continue to grow. We model and demonstrate a cost-effective fuel treatment planning algorithm using two ecosystem services as benefits for which fuel treatments are prioritized. We create a surface of expected fuel treatment costs to incorporate the heterogeneity in factors affecting the revenue and costs of fuel treatments, and then prioritize treatments based on a cost-effectiveness ratio to maximize the averted loss of ecosystem services from fire. We compare treatment scenarios that employ cost-effectiveness with those that do not, and use common tools and models in a case study of the Sisters Ranger District on the Deschutes National Forest in central Oregon.
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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Socioeconomic Profile tool is a free, web-based tool created by Headwaters Economics to help government agency land managers, economists, planners, outreach specialists, researchers, citizen/private sectors, and others explore socioeconomic conditions near Service units.
This webinar will provide an overview of The Pew Charitable Trust’s recent work on natural disaster spending. Remarks will focus on how all levels of government—and states in particular—can manage rising disaster costs by improving how they track spending and by investing in mitigation. Research by Pew has found that disaster assistance is spread across many federal and state agencies and that comprehensive data, especially on what states spend, is missing. Better data could allow both federal and state policymakers to make more strategic decisions about how they spend on disasters, including mitigation measures that reduce the impact of future events—which a recent Pew analysis found saves money in every state and across disaster types.
Colin Foard, Associate Manager, Fiscal Federalism, The Pew Charitable Trusts, presents.
This study, which can be found in the journal PLoS One, suggests that people of color, especially Native Americans, face more risk from wildfires than whites. It is another example of how the kinds of disasters exacerbated by climate change often hit minorities and the poor the hardest.
The flow of ecosystem services derived from forests and grasslands in the Southwestern United States may change in the future. People and communities may be vulnerable if they are exposed, are sensitive, and have limited ability to adapt to ecological changes. Geospatial descriptions of ecosystem services, projected climate-related ecological changes, and socioeconomic conditions are used to assess socioeconomic vulnerability to changes in the provision of ecosystem services by national forests and grasslands in the Southwest. Vulnerability is uneven in the Southwest due to varying projected effects of climate on forest ecosystem services, and different levels of exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity of people in the region.