Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Journal of Environmental Management

Volume

126

Publisher

Academic Press

Publication Date

5-28-2013

First Page

157

Last Page

173

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Public Domain Mark 1.0 License
This work has been identified with a Creative Commons Public Domain Mark 1.0.

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2013.03.044

Abstract

In this article we develop a simulation model to evaluate the economic efficiency of fuel treatments and apply it to two sagebrush ecosystems in the Great Basin of the western United States: the Wyoming Sagebrush Steppe and Mountain Big Sagebrush ecosystems. These ecosystems face the two most prominent concerns in sagebrush ecosystems relative to wildfire: annual grass invasion and native conifer expansion. Our model simulates long-run wildfire suppression costs with and without fuel treatments explicitly incorporating ecological dynamics, stochastic wildfire, uncertain fuel treatment success, and ecological thresholds. Our results indicate that, on the basis of wildfire suppression costs savings, fuel treatment is economically efficient only when the two ecosystems are in relatively good ecological health. We also investigate how shorter wildfire-return intervals, improved treatment success rates, and uncertainty about the location of thresholds between ecological states influence the economic efficiency of fuel treatments.

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