Induced Development in Risky Locations: Fire Suppression and Land Use in the American West?


Feb. 24, 2011

Event Series


Event Details

Carolyn Kousky and Sheila M. Olmstead
RFF Fellows

Thursday, February 24, 2011
12 - 1:00 p.m.

7th Floor Conference Center
1616 P St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

We test the hypothesis that efforts by federal agencies to suppress fire on forestland, grassland and shrubland in the Western United States since 1970 have acted as a development subsidy, drawing new low‐density residential and commercial development into regions at risk from wildland fire. The analysis exploits a natural experiment – a major shift in federal fire suppression policy that occurred in the aftermath of catastrophic fires in Yellowstone National Park in 1988. We use the Yellowstone event along with other sources of spatial and temporal variation in the benefits and costs of fire suppression between 1970 and 2000 to identify the effects of fire suppression on development. Results suggest that during periods when the federal government has intensified its expected suppression efforts on public lands, private residential and commercial development has accelerated on nearby land that would benefit from that suppression.

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