Environmental and Ecological Statistics

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 291–319 | Cite as

Fighting fire with fire: estimating the efficacy of wildfire mitigation programs using propensity scores

  • David T. Butry


This paper examines the effect wildfire mitigation has on broad-scale wildfire behavior. Each year, hundreds of million of dollars are spent on fire suppression and fuels management applications, yet little is known, quantitatively, of the returns to these programs in terms of their impact on wildfire extent and intensity. This is especially true when considering that wildfire management influences and reacts to several, often times confounding factors, including socioeconomic characteristics, values at risk, heterogeneous landscapes, and climate. Due to the endogenous nature of suppression effort and fuels management intensity and placement with wildfire behavior, traditional regression models may prove inadequate. Instead, I examine the applicability of propensity score matching (PSM) techniques in modeling wildfire. This research makes several significant contributions including: (1) applying techniques developed in labor economics and in epidemiology to evaluate the effects of natural resource policies on landscapes, rather than on individuals; (2) providing a better understanding of the relationship between wildfire mitigation strategies and their influence on broad-scale wildfire patterns; (3) quantifying the returns to suppression and fuels management on wildfire behavior.


Endogeneity Prescribed fire Propensity score Treatment effects Wildfire production functions 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Office of Applied Economics, Building and Fire Research LaboratoryNational Institute of Standards and TechnologyGaithersburgUSA

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