First Advisor

Max Nielsen-Pincus

Term of Graduation

Winter 2020

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Earth, Environment, & Society


Earth, Environment, & Society




Wildland-urban interface -- West (U.S.), Wildfires -- West (U.S.) -- History, Wildfire risk -- Management, Fire ecology -- West (U.S.), Interagency coordination



Physical Description

1 online resource (xvi, 172 pages)


Escalating loss from wildfire in the American West has made clear the need to rethink wildfire risk, including how such risks result from the unique interaction of social and natural dynamics within the wildland urban interface. Unfortunately, techniques for studying these interactions remain limited. The intent of this research is to address this gap. In each of four chapters, I examine different aspects of wildfire risk management through a coupled human-natural lens. I document how wildfire activity has shifted over three decades across forest and shrubland systems in the western US and connect these changes to the simultaneous growth in development within fire-prone wildlands. Using wildfire models, I then examine the transmission of wildfire risk from public land into nearby communities to quantify both the magnitude and geographic extent of wildfire exposure across the American West. These results show how community exposure has become geographically concentrated within several dozen regional hotspots, each featuring a distinct mix of exposure conditions. The dissertation then shifts its focuses to wildfire management within one specific hotspot, North Central Washington. Here I map where wildfire risk management crosses ownership boundaries to address risk and how the resulting organizational diversity appears to shape the roles that different organizations play. Finally, I look at the network structure of relationships among those managing wildfire risk and show that geographic proximity and shared risk lead to collaboration. Together, this work represents a cohesive body of research that expands coupled social and biophysical knowledge of wildfire risk management.


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