Prescribed Burning Costs and the WUI: Economic Effects in the Pacific Northwest
Abstract:Federal fuels managers are increasingly using prescribed fire to decrease hazardous fuels and risks to resources in wildland and urban settings. Two factors have become apparent throughout the last several years: prescribed burning costs are rising, and costs exhibit substantial variability (NIFC 2003). Federal fire managers are bound by federal policy to allocate resources efficiently, yet this is difficult without a full understanding of the cost structure of fuels management. Previous studies have examined factors influencing costs but have also grappled with a lack of consistent or reliable data. This study uses FASTRACS (Fuel Analysis, Smoke Tracking, Report Access Computer System), a database maintained by the Pacific Northwest region of the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. The database provides information for Washington and Oregon on costs, physical site characteristics, and managerial concerns for fuels management activities. Using multiple regression analysis, we show that the cost of fuels management is influenced by the wildland-urban interface, number of acres treated, designated protection areas, slope, elevation, treatment type, fire regime, agency, and season. Prescribed burning in the wildland-urban interface increased costs, ceteris paribus, 139%. Findings with respect to physical site characteristics were similar to those found in previous research.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: 1: Property and Environment Research Center (PERC), Bozeman, MT; 2: USDA Forest Service, PNW Research Station, Portland, OR 97208-3890; 3: Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK Canada.
Publication date: April 1, 2006
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