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Suppression Cost Forecasts in Advance of Wildfire Seasons

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Approaches for forecasting wildfire suppression costs in advance of a wildfire season are demonstrated for two lead times: fall and spring of the current fiscal year (Oct. 1–Sept. 30). Model functional forms are derived from aggregate expressions of a least cost plus net value change model. Empirical estimates of these models are used to generate advance-of-season forecasts. Cost forecasts involve estimation of suppression cost equations by geographical region based on a time series of historical data (1977–2006) of costs, a time trend, and climate variables, forecasts of the next season's suppression costs, by region and in total across all regions, and generation of suppression cost forecast probability distributions by region and in aggregate. The forecasts are also evaluated historically for their goodness of fit using cross-validation techniques. The two lead time forecast models are compared with the 10-year moving average of suppression costs, currently used as a budget request formula by the US Forest Service. Results show that the spring forecast of suppression costs is statistically no better than the fall forecast for predicting the coming season's costs. However, both the spring and fall forecasts significantly outperform the 10-year moving average, reducing forecast errors by approximately 60%.

Keywords: US Forest Service; budget; firefighting; seemingly unrelated regression; suppression cost; time series

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2008

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.702
    Ranking: 16 of 66 in forestry

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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