Community-focused programs, datasets, and planning resources for wildfire risk mitigation

Much of the current dialogue around mitigating wildfire risk to people and property in the United States focuses on vegetation treatments to reduce fuel loads on public lands. There is good reason for that – responsible management of lands within their jurisdiction is embedded within the mission of the Forest Service and other land management agencies. However, we can conceptualize wildfire risk to the built environment as having three primary components: likelihood of wildfire occurrence, intensity if a fire occurs, and susceptibility of an asset (e.g., a structure) to being damaged by a fire. Under this framing, treating fuels on public lands, sometimes far away from assets at risk, has a limited ability to reduce the likelihood and intensity of fire at the location of those assets, and has no effect on the susceptibility of the assets to damage. Conversely mitigation actions that have the greatest leverage on wildfire risk to built assets include reduction of fuels immediately adjacent to the asset and physical measures that can reduce the ignitability of a building. Examples of this include implementing Home Ignition Zone principles and using fire-resistant building materials. In this seminar, we will share examples of work happening within, or funded by, the Forest Service to foster these types of locally-focused mitigation actions and underscore the importance of these actions in the broader scope of the Wildfire Crisis Strategy.