A Microeconometric Analysis of Wildfire Suppression Decisions in the Western United States

Rossi DavidKuusela Olli-PekkaDunn Christopher


Full suppression strategies remain the dominant option in wildfire management, despite a large body of research demonstrating the ecological and economic benefits of allowing unplanned wildfires to burn under favorable conditions. Consequently, empirical research identifying and understanding the factors that contribute to these decisions within public land management agencies has become of critical importance in efforts to improve management outcomes. This paper assesses the importance of a set of institutional and socioeconomic factors with a random utility model of incident commander suppression decisions. We compare the importance of these factors on chosen strategies before and after an update to federal fire policy implementation guidance and an associated change to federal fire budgeting policy implemented in Fiscal Year 2010. We find that while the update to federal fire policy guidance may have been effective at increasing the probability that managers adopted a strategy other than full suppression, the subsequent increase in suppression budget allotments offset this impact, rendering no true difference in probabilities after the policy change.

Ecological Economics, Volume 200, October 2022, 107525.

Publication info

Wildfire use, Managing fire for resource benefits, Full suppression, FLAME Act, Discrete choice, Random utility model
Q23, Q28, Q54
Publisher / series
Ecological Economics, Volume 200
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