CU-Boulder GEOG 4430 - Potential for Future Development on Fire-Prone Lands (8 pages)

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Potential for Future Development on Fire-Prone Lands



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Potential for Future Development on Fire-Prone Lands

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Pages:
8
School:
University of Colorado at Boulder
Course:
Geog 4430 - Seminar: Conservation Trends

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fire Potential for Future Development on Fire Prone Lands ABSTRACT Patricia Gude Ray Rasker and Jeff van den Noort Most studies of wildland fire and residential development have focused on the cost of firefighting and solutions such as fuel reduction and fire safe home building Although some studies quantify the number of homes being built near forests little research has indicated the potential magnitude of the problem in the future This article presents data illustrating this emerging problem for western communities Our analysis takes a long view looking at the potential for more home construction next to public forests and implications for future wildfire fighting costs In a study of 11 western states we found that only 14 of the available wildland interface in the West is currently developed leaving great potential for new home construction in the remaining 86 If just one half of the wildland interface is developed in the future annual firefighting costs could escalate to 4 3 billion By comparison the Forest Service s annual budget is about 4 5 billion Keywords wildfire forest fire wildland urban interface residential development L arge areas of land are being converted to housing in the western United States The current preference for rural landscapes Johnson and Beale 1994 Johnson 1999 the increasing popularity of large lots Theobald et al 1997 Hammer et al 2004 and the powerful draw of natural amenities Rasker and Hansen 2000 Schnaiberg et al 2002 Radeloff et al 2005 Gude et al 2006 have all contributed to this trend Widespread population gains in nonmetropolitan counties have taken place since roughly 1970 Brown et al 2005 and housing has become increasingly dispersed particularly in rural areas where land is more affordable The popularity of low density development has lead to large areas of land being converted to housing because each home is consuming more land Theobald et al 1997 Hammer et al 2004 Adjacency to lakes seashores forests national parks and



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