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Data from: Defensible-space treatment of <114,000 ha 40 m from high-risk buildings near wildland vegetation could reduce loss in WUI wildfire disasters across Colorado's 27 million ha

Citation

Baker, William (2022), Data from: Defensible-space treatment of <114,000 ha 40 m from high-risk buildings near wildland vegetation could reduce loss in WUI wildfire disasters across Colorado's 27 million ha, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.kd51c5b7s

Abstract

Context    

WUI wildfire disasters are increasing, as fires are pushed by strong winds and drier fuels across landscapes and into communities. Possible disasters make maintaining and restoring landscape-scale fire in fire-adapted ecosystems difficult. Rapid action is needed to reduce building loss in WUI wildfire disasters. 

Objectives      

In a Colorado case study, I used distance-based empirical modeling to refine potential risk of building loss in WUI wildfire disasters to focus risk-reduction efforts.

Methods   

New empirical modeling showed 95% of USA building loss in WUI wildfire disasters was within 100 m of wildland vegetation. I used modeling to estimate and map potential relative risk of a WUI wildfire disaster for each of 2,185,953 buildings in Colorado.

Results     

High-risk buildings were 241,375 or 11% of total buildings. However, the 20-40 m essential defensible space around these buildings covered only 46,767- 114,084 ha. Area within 100 m of wildland vegetation, containing these buildings, covered 475,840 ha or 1.8% of Colorado’s 27 million ha. About 95% of at-risk land within 100 m of wildland vegetation is not federally owned, and WUI wildfire disasters are mostly from fires started on private land.

Conclusions   

Treating ≤114,084 ha of defensible space could leave the 27 million ha of Colorado with lower WUI wildfire disaster-risk to buildings. High risk of building loss is rarely a federal land-management problem. If the goal is rapid reduction of building loss in WUI wildfire disasters, focus resources on defensible space 20-40 m from WUI buildings within 100 m of wildland vegetation.

Methods

Downloaded Microsoft Building Footprint data, 2011 National Land Cover data, then calculated building centroids, building density, percent cover of wildland vegetation, and distance to wildland vegetation patches in ArcGIS. Then, used these to classify each building into relative risk categories for future WUI wildfire disasters following the Caggiano et al. (2020) analysis of past WUI wildfire disasters in the USA.

Usage Notes

See pdf and identical MS Word README document that both explain the datasets.