5th Symposium on Fire and Forest Meteorology and the 2nd International Wildland Fire Ecology and Fire Management Congress

Tuesday, 18 November 2003: 2:00 PM
Evaluating designs for fuel management projects: application of a multi-attribute framework
Donald G. MacGregor, MacGregor-Bates, Inc., Eugene, OR; and C. Dammann and J. Anderson
Poster PDF (169.8 kB)
As federal land management agencies move into the 21st Century, one of the most challenging issues they face is the management of fuels to achieve both ecological objectives and to influence the potential for catastrophic and uncharacteristic wildfires. At a broad policy level, a number of frameworks exist that provide guidance to local units about the desired future condition of forest ecologies as well as the potential role that fire can play in achieving and maintaining those conditions. However, local units often have to consider a number of other objectives in the design of fuel management projects. For example, local community values and objectives must be considered as part of program implementation. Likewise, a fuels management decision maker must also take account of the escape risk associated with fuel management plans that incorporate prescribed fire as a fuel management tool.

This paper takes the perspective that the development of fuel management projects inherently involves a set of design decisions that ideally address a wide range of objectives. In this conceptualization, a particular fuel management project is one of several alternative project designs that meet design criteria or objectives to a differing degree than others. These criteria can include ecological criteria, economic criteria (including cost), social criteria, and risk-related criteria (such as risk of prescribed fire escape). The optimum project is the one that best reflects the value tradeoffs associated with the various design criteria, taking into consideration the relative weight or priority the project designer gives to the criteria. The paper develops a model for evaluating alternative fuel management project designs based on a multi-attribute framework that represents design criteria in terms of an attribute structure. The attribute structure represents a decomposition of design criteria into measurable objectives that provide a basis for evaluating alternative project designs. The structural features of the framework permit the representation and visual display of projects that includes prioritization of objectives and tradeoffs. The framework provides the basis for development of a software decision support tool to aid in fuels management program design.

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