The risk of wildfire is expected to grow across the United States due to reduced precipitation in some regions, and higher temperatures caused by climate change. Wildfire has far-reaching impacts that can ripple through communities, regions, watersheds, and ecosystems. This paper overviews a number of adaptation strategies for areas with a projected increase in wildfire conditions. For each strategy, it will discuss design and operation costs, and primary and co-benefits. The paper includes a community case study of Austin, Texas, which has used a number of these strategies, and a list of publications and interactive tools to help communities become more resilient to wildfire.
- The risk of wildfire has grown in recent decades and is expected to increase across the United States due to reduced precipitation and higher temperatures caused by climate change.
- Wildfire causes rippling effects like damaged habitat, degraded air quality causing health impacts, and drinking water supply contamination.
- Communities can employ a number of strategies to be more resilient to wildfire, these include: zoning and building policy, landscape regulations, vegetation and forestry management, and public education and preparedness campaigns.
- Wildfire resilience strategies carry an upfront cost, but can provide considerable returns over time in the form of improved drinking water quality, land conservation, higher property values, avoided damages and reduced wildfire or building insurance.
- The community of Austin Texas provides a model of wildfire resilience efforts by developing a Community Wildfire Protection Plan, managing vegetation, conserving land in the WUI, and educating its citizens about wildfire safety and preparedness for emergencies