Wildland-Urban Interface housing growth during the 1990s in California, Oregon, and Washington
Hammer, R.B., V.C. Radeloff, J.S. Fried, and S.I. Stewart. 2007. Wildland-Urban Interface housing growth during the 1990s in California, Oregon, and Washington. International Journal of Wildland Fire 16: 255-265.
In the present study,we examine housing growth in California, Oregon, andWashington in the wildland–urban interface (WUI), the area where homes and other structures abut or intermingle with wildland vegetation. We combine housing density information from the 1990 and 2000 USA censuses with land cover information from the 1992/93 National Land Cover Dataset to demarcate the location and extent of the WUI and its growth, both in terms of area and number of housing units during the 1990s.We overlay the WUI with coarse-scale fire regime condition class information to evaluate implications for wildland fire management. During the 1990s, WUI area in the three-state region increased by 5218 km2 (10.9%) to nearly 53 000 km2 and the number of housing units in the WUI increased over 1 million units (17.6%) and in 2000 encompassed 6.9 million units, 43% of all housing in the region. Over a million new homes were constructed in the WUI, comprising 61% of the new homes constructed in the region. By 2000, there was far more intermixWUI (75% of the WUI area and 64% of the WUI housing units) than interface WUI. Expansion of the WUI accounted for only 13% of WUI housing unit growth and WUI that existed in 1990 encompassed 98% of WUI housing units in 2000. In 2000, there were nearly 1.5 million WUI housing units in areas with 0–35-year fire return intervals and 3.4 million in areas with 35–100+ year fire return intervals. In both these fire regimes, the majority of WUI housing units (66% and 90% respectively) are in areas with a current condition outside the historic range of variability. Housing growth patterns in this three-state region are exacerbating wildland fire problems in the WUI. Any long-term solution to wildland fire issues in the western United States will have to address housing growth patterns. Using a consistent, nationally applicable assessment protocol, the present study reveals the vast extent of WUI in the west coast states and its growth in the 1990s, and provides a foundation for consistent monitoring efforts.