Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Rural land use policies curb wildfire risks -- to a point

Date:
October 8, 2013
Source:
Washington State University
Summary:
Using Montana's fast-growing Flathead County as a template, a Washington State University researcher has found that moderately restrictive land-use policies can significantly curb the potential damage of rural wildfires. However, highly restrictive planning laws will not do much more.

Paveglio built a model predicting future wildfire-related losses based on current development trends, fire patterns and projected climate change up to the year 2059.
Credit: Ingus Evertovskis / Fotolia

Using Montana's fast-growing Flathead County as a template, a Washington State University researcher has found that moderately restrictive land-use policies can significantly curb the potential damage of rural wildfires. However, highly restrictive planning laws will not do much more.

Related Articles


"Effective land-use planning can reduce wildfire risk," says Travis Paveglio, a clinical assistant professor in the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication whose research focuses on wildfire, environmental hazards and natural resource management. "However, it's one of a suite of influences and you have to take all of those influences together to understand its impact."

Paveglio's study, which was funded by the National Science Foundation, appears in the latest Journal of Environmental Management.

Working with colleague Tony Prato at the University of Missouri and others, Paveglio built a model predicting future wildfire-related losses based on current development trends, fire patterns and projected climate change up to the year 2059. The county has grown dramatically in the past two decades, with many people drawn to environmental amenities like Glacier National Park, Flathead Lake, national forests and ski resorts.

"You can be in a portion of Flathead County and be as rural as you would expect anywhere in the Northwest," says Paveglio, "but you can also be up by Whitefish and be around one of the early financiers of Google."

Rural residents have been threatened by blistering wildfires, including two 50,000-acre-plus fires in 2003 and the 99,090-acre Chippy Creek Fire in 2007.

Paveglio and his colleagues focused on current land-use policies and built a model estimating potential wildfire-related residential losses. The model predicted that, under the land-use policies of 2010, residential losses would increase 17-fold by 2059 with cumulative losses of more than $79 million.

Under increased but still "moderately restrictive" policies, residential losses from wildfire increased 10-fold. Highly restrictive policies showed a nine-fold increase in losses -- less than with the other two policies, but not much improvement over the moderately restrictive ones.

The findings apply only to Flathead County, not other parts of the West, says Paveglio. But the researchers' model can be applied to other places using data specific to those regions, he says.

Paveglio says the researchers focused on the county's overall land-use policies with an eye toward building a flexible tool that can consider wildfire risk in concert with more typical planning criteria like environmental concerns and aesthetics.

"For any planner, there are going to be a lot of trade-offs," he says. "Fire is just one of the things that they have to deal with. So this is one tool that they can look at, but ultimately they're going to be making a decision based on a lot of things."

If communities want to concentrate on just the impact of wildfire, they will need to look at a different set of tools besides conventional land-use planning.

"This is an effective first step in showing that land-use policies can help," he says. "Now we need to explore how much fire-specific policies contribute to reducing residential losses."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Washington State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Travis B. Paveglio, Tony Prato, Michael Hardy. Simulating effects of land use policies on extent of the wildland urban interface and wildfire risk in Flathead County, Montana. Journal of Environmental Management, 2013; 130: 20 DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2013.08.036

Cite This Page:

Washington State University. "Rural land use policies curb wildfire risks -- to a point." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131008091723.htm>.
Washington State University. (2013, October 8). Rural land use policies curb wildfire risks -- to a point. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131008091723.htm
Washington State University. "Rural land use policies curb wildfire risks -- to a point." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131008091723.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ivory Trade Boom Swamps Law Efforts

Ivory Trade Boom Swamps Law Efforts

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 17, 2014) Demand for ivory has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of African elephants and now a conservation report says the illegal trade is overwhelming efforts to enforce the law. Amy Pollock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Indictments in West Virginia Chemical Spill Case

Indictments in West Virginia Chemical Spill Case

AP (Dec. 17, 2014) A grand jury indicted four former executives of Freedom Industries, the company at the center of the Jan. 9, 2014 chemical spill in Charleston, West Virginia. The spill contaminated the Elk River and the water supply of 300,000 people. (Dec. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Uphill Battle to Tackle Indonesian Shark Fishing

Uphill Battle to Tackle Indonesian Shark Fishing

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) Sharks are hauled ashore every day at a busy market on the central Indonesian island of Lombok, the hub of a booming trade that provides a livelihood for local fishermen but is increasingly alarming environmentalists. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
France's Sauternes Wine Threatened by New Train Line

France's Sauternes Wine Threatened by New Train Line

AFP (Dec. 16, 2014) Winemakers in southwestern France's Bordeaux are concerned about a proposed high speed train line that could affect the microclimate required for the region's sweet wine. Duration: 01:06 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins