Planning for Wildfires
PAS Report 529/530
By James Schwab, FAICP, Stuart Meck, FAICP, Jamie Simone, AICP
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Wildfires are both dangerous and costly, yet people continue to build in wildfire-prone areas. This poses challenges for governments and planners, who must decide whether to permit development in such areas and how best to design developments that are allowed.
This report explores both issues, outlining how knowledge of wildfire risks can be incorporated into comprehensive planning and identifying best practices for development in at-risk areas.
Table of Contents
1. Wildfires as a Planning Priority
Where to Build and How • Why Planning Matters • Trends in WUI Development • Why People Live and Build in the WUI • Federal Initiatives • The Impact of Firewise
2. Historical Overview of Wildfires in the U.S.
Early History of the Frontier • The "Great Barbecue" • The War on Fire • Modern Development of WUI
3. The Science of Wildfires
The Ecological Role of Fire • What Is Natural • The Physics of Wildfires • Implications for the Built Environment
4. Wildfire Planning and Regulation: Examples from the Field
Comprehensive Plan Elements and Local Specific Plans • Zoning Ordinance and Subdivision Provisions, Including Models
5. Big Issues in Planning for Wildfires
Influencing Perceptions and Attitudes • Factors Influencing Behavior • Institutional and Legal/Political Barriers • Three Strategies for Dealing with Development in the Wildland-Urban Interface
Appendix A. Glossary of Terms
Appendix B. List of References and Contacts
Appendix C. Bibliography
Appendix D. Fire Danger Rating System
Appendix E. Fire Hazard Severity Form
Appendix F. American Planning Association Growing Smart Model • Statute for a Natural Hazards Element of a Comprehensive Plan