To identify and prioritize areas of concern, wildfire risk is assessed at the county and local scale. CPAW develops risk assessments to support land use decision-making in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station.
Highly detailed wildfire risk maps can assist in the planning of desired land uses that reduce communities’ wildfire risks. By identifying areas where wildfires are likely to occur, risk maps help prioritize areas of concern and guide decision making efforts. In addition, wildfire risk maps identify areas where development can take place safely, with minimum risk exposure. Wildfire risk maps can be applied at the community planning scale to guide the development review process for proposed subdivisions and existing structures, increase hazard information to homeowners and the public, supplement grant applications and funding requests, and improve regulatory planning within the WUI.
Other benefits of wildfire risk assessments include:
- Improving county planning and application of land use ordinances and ICC development codes based on low to high areas of risk.
- Educating the public and supporting outreach efforts to raise awareness of wildfire risk (e.g., by various Firewise groups),
- Providing critical components to the Community Wildfire Protection Plan, County Comprehensive Plan, Hazard Mitigation Plans, and other development documents.
- Identifying the least risky location for the built environment and critical infrastructure (homes, power lines, etc.)
- Targeting communities and homes where enhanced mitigation measures are needed, such as hardening materials, defensible space, roofing requirements, and other risk reduction standards.
- Providing base information for later efforts to model effects of post-fire flooding, including debris flow and erosion.
Localized risk maps have many benefits, including providing important hazard information to landowners, guiding the development review process, and supplementing grant applications