The True Cost of Wildfire in the Western U.S.
The millions of dollars spent to extinguish large wildfires are widely reported and used to underscore the severity of these events. Extinguishing a large wildfire, however, accounts for only a fraction of the total costs associated with a wildfire event. Residents in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) are generally seen as the most vulnerable to fire, but a fuller accounting of the costs of fire also reveals impacts to all Americans and gives a better picture of the losses incurred when our forests burn.
A full accounting considers long-term and complex costs, including impacts to watersheds, ecosystems, infrastructure, businesses, individuals, and the local and national economy. Specifically, these costs include property losses (insured and uninsured), post-fire impacts (such as flooding and erosion), air and water quality damages, healthcare costs, injuries and fatalities, lost revenues (to residents evacuated by the fire, and to local businesses), infrastructure shutdowns (such as highways, airports, and railroads), and a host of ecosystem service costs that may extend into the distant future.
- TrueCostOfWilfire.pdf application/pdf 700 KB Download File
More About This Work
- Academic Units
- Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology
- Western Forestry Regional Coalition
- Published Here
- July 21, 2022