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The Economic Evolution of Wildfire Suppression Organizations

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Lueck, Dean; Yoder, Jonathan
Conference: 17th Annual Conference of The International Society for New Institutional Economics
Location: Florence, Italy
Conf. Date: Jun 20-22
Date: 2013
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/9046
Sector: General & Multiple Resources
Region: North America
Subject(s): fire ecology
Abstract: "Wildfires are destructive events, costing billions of dollars each year in damage, suppression and recovery costs. Fires also have rather unusual characteristics that make their management and control rather complex and seemingly irrational. Their occurrence has great spatiotemporal variance and preparation and timeliness is crucial for effective fire suppression. Fires tend not to coincide with landownership boundaries, so that land tenure and land use characteristics affect both private and public agency incentives to fight fires. Fire suppression institutions vary substantially over time and environments, ranging from private individual and cooperative action to large scale centralized government intervention, military style organization, specialization, and pre-positioned investments. Building on economic theories of contracts and institutional design, this article examines the economic rationale for the structure of observed wildfire suppression institutions and examines implications of the model in relation to several dimensions of fire policy historically across the US and the world. We utilize a set of historical and cross-sectional case studies to test our hypotheses about the organization of suppression. Finally we consider the implications for contemporary wildfire management."

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