U.S. Wildfire Cost-Plus-Loss Economics Project


The Pacific Crest Trail, May 14, 2004. Taken near the southern entrance to the Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area from Highway 20 Santiam Pass, in Jefferson County, Oregon. In addition to being unsightly and dangerous due to the threat of falling limbs, trees and reburning, much of this trail segment has been closed or difficult to traverse since the 2003 B&B Fire Complex because of accumulating debris. (Photo by B. Zybach, Oregon Websites & Watersheds Project, Inc.).

Suppression costs. These costs are the ones most commonly reported by media (to the exclusion of other costs and losses) and are often under-reported at that. Typical costs include wages, transportation, equipment, services, supplies, etc. Special costs, such as equipment depreciation, communications interruptions, and emergency evacuations, need to be accounted for, as well. Indirect suppression costs include emergency preparedness measures, supply purchases, crew training, and equipment maintenance. Post-fire costs and losses include equipment repair, supplies replacement, formal reviews, and possible medical treatments and hospitalization of personnel.

Case Studies.

2008 California (Boxall 2008)

2008 Horry County, South Carolina (Schaenman 2008)

General References.

Calkin, David E., et al. 2005. "Forest Service Large Fire Area Burned and Suppression Expenditure Trends, 1970 - 2002," Journal of Forestry, June: 170 - 183.

Hyde, Albert C. and R. Gordon Schmidt 2007. Towards a Collaborative Cost Management Strategy: 2006 U.S. Forest Service Large Wildfire Cost Review Recommendations. Brookings Center for Executive Education, Washington, DC: 63 pp.

Lankoande, Mariam and Jonathan Yoder 2006. An Econometric Model of Wildfire Suppression Productivity. School of Economic Sciences Working Paper Series, WP 2006-10, Washington State Univrsity, Pullman, Washington: 40 pp.

McKetta, Charles W. and Armando Gonzalez-Caban 1985. "Economic Costs of Fire-Suppression Forces," Journal of Forestry. July: 429-432.

Meissner, James K., Linda Harmon, and John Kalmar, Jr. 1998. Federal Lands: Land Management Agencies' Wildfire Suppression Expenditures.B-279550, United States General Accounting Office: 13 pp.

Rideout, Douglas B. and Pamela S. Ziesler 2008. "Three Great Myths of Wildland Fire Management," IN: Gonzalez-Caban, Armando, Proceedings of the Second International Symposium on Fire Economics, Planning, and Policy: A Global View. General Technical Report PSW-GTR-208, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, Albany, California: 720 pp.: 319-325.

Schuster, Ervin G., David E. Cleaves, and Enoch F. Bell 1997. Analysis of USDA Forest Service Fire-related Expenditures 1970-1995. USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station, Rsearch Paper PSW-RP-230: 29 pp.


© 2009 Oregon Websites & Watersheds Project, Inc. and Western Institute for the Study of the Environment.