Wildland Urban Interface
As residential development continues into flammable landscapes, wildfires increasingly threaten homes, lives, and livelihoods in the wildland–urban interface (WUI). Although this problem seems distinctly modern, Native American communities have lived in WUI contexts for centuries. When carefully considered, the past offers valuable lessons for coexisting with wildfire, climate change, and related challenges. This webinar will show that ancestors of Native Americans from Jemez Pueblo used ecologically savvy intensive burning and wood collection to make their ancient WUI resistant to climate variability and extreme fire behavior. Learning from the past offers modern WUI communities more options for addressing contemporary fire challenges. Public/private–tribal partnerships for wood and fire management can offer paths forward to restore fire-resilient WUI communities.
Wildfires, especially those that impact WUI communities, are driven by multiple factors interacting together that can determine the fire’s intensity and severity, including topography, wind, drought, relative humidity, and the condition and type of local vegetation. The behavior of larger wildfires can additionally be influenced by the weather systems they create, such as fire whirls and pyrocumulonimbus clouds.
Home survivability can be influenced by their construction materials, proximity to other structures and how these neighboring structures are maintained. Overall layout of the property, including landscape design and if materials are stored within proximity of buildings, can also have an impact.
Our research was guided by the general question, does a near-miss wildfire influence residents’ perceptions and self-reported fire risk mitigation behaviors? Specifically, we examined the cognitive appraisals and physical risk factors influencing residents’ previous and planned mitigation actions both before and after the fire. Our findings show risk perceptions declined significantly after the fire while residents’ intentions to take nine different fire risk mitigation actions increased. These results suggest near-miss fire events result in simultaneous “let-downs” and “wake-up calls” among affected residents. Near-miss wildfires present a unique opportunity for wildfire community preparedness, outreach, and engagement programs to capitalize on an increased willingness to take risk mitigation actions. However, these programs may face difficulties in communicating the continued threat of subsequent fire events.
The actions of residents in the wildland–urban interface can influence the private and social costs of wildfire. Wildfire programs that encourage residents to take action are often delivered without evidence of effects on behavior. Research from the field of behavioral science shows that simple, often low-cost changes to program design and delivery can influence socially desirable behaviors. In this research report, we highlight how behavioral science and experimental design may advance efforts to increase wildfire risk mitigation on private property. We offer an example in which we tested changes in outreach messaging on property owners’ interest in wildfire risk
information. In partnership with a regional wildfire organization, we mailed 4564 letters directing property owners to visit personalized wildfire risk webpages. By tracking visitation, we observed that 590 letter recipients (12%) sought information about their wildfire risk and response varied by community. This research–practice collaboration has three benefits: innovation in outreach, evidence of innovation through experimental design, and real impacts on interest in wildfire mitigation among property owners. Future collaborations may inform behavioral and evidence-based programs to better serve residents and the public interest as the risks from wildfires are projected to grow.
This Guide includes specific recommendations for how to retrofit existing components of a home to withstand wildfre. Each section contains an explanation of how the component is vulnerable to wildfire and what can be done to improve that component. The illustrations throughout the Guide are intended to show best practices for reducing the vulnerability of a home to wildfire.
Description: Throughout the past 5 years, Gila County has been faced with record breaking wildfire activity. Learn how Gila County Emergency Management works with their Public Safety partners to overcome the challenges that come with Wildfire season. Acquire skills about planning tools such as the Gila County Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPP) and how you can help to protect your home and community from the ever evolving threat of wildfire, and the post-fire flooding events that follow.
Presenter: Carl Melford, Gila County Emergency Manager. After graduating from Globe High School in 2008, Carl began his public safety career as a Detention Officer with the Gila County Sheriff’s Office. Within his first 6 months of employment, Carl was promoted to Classification Specialist, and had written his first evacuation plan, all at the age of 18. In 2011, Carl graduated from the Southern Arizona Law Enforcement Training Center and was hired as a Police Officer with the Globe Police Department. During that time, His focus was on building resilient communities, and emergency planning. In 2015, Carl was hired by Gila County Emergency Management, where he began serving many roles in the Emergency Operations Centers across the state, as well as implementing Gila Counties own Emergency Notification Program. In 2017, Carl was promoted to Emergency Manager. Since then, Carl has taken pride in improving the mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery capabilities of Gila County.
Lowell Ballard, Director of Geospatial Solutions with Timmons Group will be presenting the latest developments in the Shared Wildfire Risk Mitigation (SWRM) Dashboard Tool that uses GIS data to provide mapped communities at risk, a consistent approach across 13 states (so far), completed in collaboration with local governments, and consistent scoring based on fire adaptation. Please join us to hear and provide feedback on how this tool can be used to identify and assist in the collaborative, cross-boundary decision-making process.
Description: The event will provide leaders intent around the Cohesive Strategy moving forward and context for 2020 implementation to date.
Presenters: Vicki Christiansen, Chief, US Forest Service; Jeff Rupert, Director, Office of Wildland Fire, DOI; George Geissler, State Forester, Washington State DNR. Additional presenters will be announced in the coming weeks based on your suggested topics and questions.