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Matthew Thompson, Rocky Mountain Research Station, USFS, mpthompson02@fs.fed.us (Presenter)
Dave Calkin, Rocky Mountain Research Station, USFS, decalkin@fs.fed.us

 

In recent years policymakers and managers have increasingly turned to the field of risk analysis to better manage wildfires, and to mitigate losses to highly valued resources and assets (HVRAs). This trend is evident, for instance, in the design and delivery of spatial risk assessment tools embedded within the Wildland Fire Decision Support System, and in the establishment of comparative risk assessment as the scientific basis for the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy. An emerging wildfire risk assessment framework includes three primary components: wildfire simulation modeling outputs quantifying likely fire behavior, geospatial identification of HVRAs, and the characterization of fire effects to HVRAs. Key strengths of this framework include the spatial identification and quantification of expected wildfire-related benefits and losses across the landscape, the ability to formally incorporate expert judgment and local expertise, and the consistency of the framework across planning scales. Results of risk assessments can be incorporated with information regarding management objectives, priorities, and treatment opportunities, to inform strategic fuel treatment prioritization. In this presentation we highlight application of the risk assessment framework to inform fuel treatment prioritization at the forest- and regional-level. Specifically we present results from recent efforts on the Lewis and Clark National Forest in Montana, and across the Forest Service Rocky Mountain Region. We describe opportunities for current and future application of the framework, and identify additional research needs.