Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Chair

Tyron Venn

Commitee Members

Karin Riley, Kevin McManigal, Tony Prato


wildfire, risk, economic, evaluation, wildland urban interface


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Natural Resource Economics


Wildland-urban interface growth and factors increasing the probability of wildfire suggest that annual spending on wildfire risk mitigation and suppression will continue to increase. With limited information about the benefits and costs of risk mitigation, land managers and homeowners may under- or over-invest in risk mitigation, where costs are disproportionate to the expected benefits of the strategy. This study accounted for expected increases in wildfire risk (due to growth of the WUI, climate change and vegetation growth) over time in Flathead County, Montana, and estimated the expected avoided loss in structure values associated with three treatment levels that would require homeowners to treat fuels on their properties. Expected avoided losses were then compared with estimates of the expected cost of implementing and maintaining the treatments over time. The majority of the WUI (86%-99%) received no more than $100 of benefit per structure, as measured by the expected avoided losses due to treatment, under all home ignition zone treatment levels. Comparison of the mean annualized treatment costs suggests the light treatments are economically efficient for about 1% of study area structures. Heavy treatments are likely to be efficient for about 3% of study area structures, and full treatments for about 2% of study area structures. Therefore, the analysis strongly suggests that mandatory fuel treatments for home-owners are unlikely to be economically efficient in Flathead County. These findings are robust to the parameter changes explored in the sensitivity analysis, in which a 20% and 50% increase and decrease in wildfire risk was conducted.



© Copyright 2015 Howard L. Williams