Wildland Urban Interface

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Wildland Urban Interface Conference 2021

Conference website.

The International Assoc of Fire Chief’s Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) conference offers hands-on training and interactive sessions designed to address the challenges of wildland fire. If you’re one of the many people responsible for protecting local forests or educating landowners and your community about the importance of land management—then this is the conference for you.

Conference will be at the Peppermill Resort in Reno, NV.

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Risky development: Increasing exposure to natural hazards in the US

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Our results show that 57% of structures (homes, schools, hospitals, office buildings, etc.) are located in hazard hotspots, which represent only a third of CONUS area, and ∼1.5 million buildings lie in hotspots for two or more hazards. These critical levels of exposure are the legacy of decades of sustained growth and point to our inability, lack of knowledge, or unwillingness to limit development in hazardous zones. Development in these areas is still growing more rapidly than the baseline rates for the nation, portending larger future losses even if the effects of climate change are not considered.

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How vulnerable are states to wildfire: A livelihood assessment

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We produce a framework needed to compute the livelihood vulnerability index (LVI) for the top 14 American States that are most exposed to wildfires, based on the 2019 Wildfire Risk report of the acreage size burnt in 2018 and 2019: Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. The LVI is computed for each State by first considering the State’s exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity to wildfire events (known as the three contributing factors). These contributing factors are determined by a set of indictor variables (vulnerability metrics) that are categorized into corresponding major component groups. The framework structure is then justified by performing a principal component analysis (PCA) to ensure that each selected indicator variable corresponds to the correct contributing factor. The LVI for each State is then calculated based on a set of algorithms relating to our framework. LVI values rank between 0 (low LVI) to 1 (high LVI). Our results indicate that Arizona and New Mexico experience the greatest livelihood vulnerability, with an LVI of 0.57 and 0.55, respectively. In contrast, California, Florida, and Texas experience the least livelihood vulnerability to wildfires (0.44, 0.35, 0.33 respectively). LVI is strongly weighted on its contributing factors and is exemplified by the fact that even though California has one of the highest exposures and sensitivity to wildfires, it has very high adaptive capacity measures in place to withstand its livelihood vulnerability. Thus, States with relatively high wildfire exposure can exhibit relatively lower livelihood vulnerability because of adaptive capacity measures in place.

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Land use planning as a strategy for fire adapted communities

Webinar registration.

Description: As communities across the U.S. face increasing threats from wildfire, there is also a growing interest in land use planning as a strategy to reduce risk and foster more resilient outcomes. Land use planning provides a variety of tools, such as growth management plans, subdivision regulations, or wildland-urban interface (WUI) codes that can be applied in wildfire-prone areas. These tools can support public safety and emergency response, direct growth away from high hazard areas, and can complement other fire adapted activities such as vegetation management. However, selecting the appropriate tools and integrating them with other approaches often takes consideration of many factors—such as existing state requirements, potential shifts in demographic and development patterns, political will, and enforcement capacity. This webinar will provide a brief history of planning in the WUI for context, and highlight different planning tools and implementation strategies available to state and local governments—including examples from across the West.

Presenter: Molly Mowery, AICP, Executive Director, Community Wildfire Planning Center

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New Mexico Virtual WUI Summit

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The NM Wildland Urban Summit is attended by community members, fire service volunteers and professionals, non-profit conservation groups engaged in fire adaptation, and federal, state and local government representatives.

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Streamlined wildland-urban interface fire tracing (SWUIFT): Modeling wildfire spread in communities

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The fire spread rate within WUI communities is determined for nine wildfires that were ranked among the most destructive wildfires in North America. An improved quasi-empirical model that considers radiation and fire spotting as modes of fire spread inside a community is proposed. The new model is validated using the documented spread rates during the 2007 Witch and Guejito fires and the 2017 Tubbs fire. The proposed model is computationally efficient and can be used to quantify fire spread rate and the number of affected structures inside a community during a wildfire event.

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Home hardening Q&A

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Living With Fire will host a question-and-answer workshop with Steve Quarles, who is both University of California Cooperative Extension Advisor Emeritus and the retired Chief Scientist for Wildfire and Durability, Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety Research Center. The session will focus on “home hardening,” defined as building or retrofitting homes to withstand wildfire. Watch a previous presentation on this topic online.

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Protect, prevent, and prepare with NV energy

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Natural Disaster Protection Plan Director James Saavdra and Director of Delivery Operations Zeina Randall, both with NV Energy, will discuss how NV Energy is working with customers and partners using innovative strategies to reduce the risk of wildfire to Nevadans.

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Wildfire evacuation preparedness

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This webinar is presented with the University’s Osher Life Learning Institute, a member-driven organization offering short-term educational experiences for older adults in northern Nevada. Deputy Emergency Manager Jason Danen, with the Carson City Fire Department, will speak about emergency notification systems such as Code Red and other forms of communication to the public during a wildfire. In addition, Skyland Fire Adapted Communities’ Leader and Douglas County Community Emergency Response Team Member Ann Grant will discuss items to prepare for an evacuation go bag and a stay box.

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Native American fire management at an ancient WUI

Webinar recording.

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.

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