Thursday, December 20, 2018

California's wildland-urban interface

Doug Smith and Ben Walsh report in today's Los Angeles Times:
A Times analysis of wildfire hazard across California found that hundreds of communities from Redding to San Diego are at high risk of deadly wildfires like those in Paradise and Malibu last month. 
More than 1.1 million structures, or roughly 1 in 10 buildings in California, lie within the highest-risk fire zones in maps drawn by the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the analysis showed.
Don't miss the maps accompanying this story, where you can "drill down" and see where you own home lies. 
Nearly 60% of the state’s at-risk structures are in incorporated cities or counties, placing the burden of preparing them on local fire departments, overwhelmingly in Southern California. 
* * * 
Large clusters are found where cities run up against rocky terrain, such as where the Santa Monica Mountains bisect Los Angeles.
I first learned of the term "wildland-urban interface" in 2013 or 2014 and even used the construct in my 2014 book chapter, "The Rural Lawscape: Space Tames Law Tames Space," where I was grappling with the continuum between remote wilderness and small towns, as two ends of the spectrum that could be considered "rural."  Turns out the idea of the wildland-urban interface disrupts that continuum because it puts the urban right next to wilderness.  

The Los Angeles Times story also notes that Paradise and Malibu are among 174 California communities that are "nearly entirely at risk with 90% or more of its buildings in the red zone."  The story quotes Dave Sapsis, a researcher with the state's Fire and Resource Assessment Program:  
It’s not a good feeling to look back on how we mapped Paradise — it’s almost all red — and then having this event come through that validates the map. We’ve really got to address this trend. These are unacceptable outcomes.

1 comment:

David Bloomquist said...

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