Return on investment from fuel treatments to reduce severe wildfire and erosion in a watershed investment program in Colorado

Journal of Environmental Management
Kelly W. Jones, Jeffery B. Cannon, Freddy A. Saavedra, Stephanie K. Kampf, Robert N. Addington, Antony S.Cheng, Lee H. MacDonald, Codie Wilson, Brett Wolk
Source N/A
Volume / IssueVolume 198, Part 2
Pages66 - 77
Total Pages12
Article Link
Editor(s) N/A
Conference / Book Title N/A
Flag N/A
TagsWildfire risk, Wildfire mitigation, Payments for ecosystem services, Watershed partnerships, Watershed services, Sediment
Other N/A
Conference Title N/A
Conference Date N/A
Publication Date1-Aug-17
Article Date N/A
GS Citation N/A
AbstractA small but growing number of watershed investment programs in the western United States focus on wildfire risk reduction to municipal water supplies. This paper used return on investment (ROI) analysis to quantify how the amounts and placement of fuel treatment interventions would reduce sediment loading to the Strontia Springs Reservoir in the Upper South Platte River watershed southwest of Denver, Colorado following an extreme fire event. We simulated various extents of fuel mitigation activities under two placement strategies: (a) a strategic treatment prioritization map and (b) accessibility. Potential fire behavior was modeled under each extent and scenario to determine the impact on fire severity, and this was used to estimate expected change in post-fire erosion due to treatments. We found a positive ROI after large storm events when fire mitigation treatments were placed in priority areas with diminishing marginal returns after treating >50Ð80% of the forested area. While our ROI results should not be used prescriptively they do show that, conditional on severe fire occurrence and precipitation, investments in the Upper South Platte could feasibly lead to positive financial returns based on the reduced costs of dredging sediment from the reservoir. While our analysis showed positive ROI focusing only on post-fire erosion mitigation, it is important to consider multiple benefits in future ROI calculations and increase monitoring and evaluation of these benefits of wildfire fuel reduction investments for different site conditions and climates.
Created: 12/14/2017 10:30 AM (ET)
Modified: 12/14/2017 10:30 AM (ET)
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