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Modeling Wildfire Mitigation and Ecological Restoration on the Urban-Wildland Interface of ColoradoEPA Grant Number: U915889
Title: Modeling Wildfire Mitigation and Ecological Restoration on the Urban-Wildland Interface of Colorado
Investigators: Platt, Rutherford V.
Institution: University of Colorado at Boulder
EPA Project Officer: Boddie, Georgette
Project Period: January 1, 2001 through January 1, 2004
Project Amount: $85,382
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2001) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Geography , Academic Fellowships , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration
In response to the catastrophic wildfires of 2000 and 2002, many wide-reaching policies were enacted, including the Healthy Forest Restoration Act of 2003. Such policies often fund mechanical thinning projects to both reduce the threat of wildfire (wildfire mitigation) and to restore forest health (ecological restoration). The objectives of this research project are to: (1) determine whether these two goals can be accomplished simultaneously in the urban-wildland interface of Boulder County, Colorado; and (2) evaluate whether these goals could be compatible under alternative scenarios of land use policy, forest management, and climate.
A primary tool of this research project is a geographic information system-based model called "Wildfire Hazard Mitigation/Exurban Development" (WHAMED). The model suggests that the goals of wildfire mitigation and ecological restoration may be accomplished simultaneously in only a small fraction of the montane zone, primarily on open space and private land. Changes in land use and forest policy may have a modest ability to direct future mechanical thinning to areas where both goals could be accomplished. Elsewhere, policymakers should be clear and realistic about the objectives of mechanical thinning.