Lessons for Wildfire from Federal Flood Risk Management Programs

Carolyn Kousky
Posted on: 6/06/2016 - Updated on: 3/06/2020

Posted by

Tera Johnson



This paper reviews the experience, both positive and negative, of national floodplain management programs in order to draw lessons for potential new approaches to reduce the costs and risks posed by wildfire to properties in the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI).

There is a growing consensus that more must be done to manage wildfire risks and control the range of escalating costs. Solutions to date have largely focused on landowner education to encourage voluntary adoption of fire-resistant building materials and landscaping, as well fuels reduction efforts on forested lands. Both of these are important measures, but likely insufficient—particularly at current levels—to curb the escalating risks and costs.

This paper explores whether lessons learned from federal flood risk management programs could be applied to reducing risks from wildfire. The policy objective is to find ways to change the pace, scale, and pattern of home development on the as-yet undeveloped portion of the Wildland-Urban Interface.

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Headwaters Economics is an independent, nonprofit research group.

The staff at Headwaters Economics blends innovative research techniques and extensive on-the-ground experience working with a range of partners across the West for more than 20 years.

The mission of Headwaters Economics is to improve community development and land management decisions in the West.


Document Type
Adaptation Phase
Sociopolitical Setting
Target Climate Changes and Impacts