Wildfire Protection in the Wildland-Urban Interface [January 30, 2014]   [open pdf - 454KB]

"Congressional interest in funding to protect against wildfire threats has focused on communities in and near forests, an area known as the 'wildland-urban interface' (WUI). The WUI is expanding in size and population, leading to increased concern for life and property that could potentially be damaged by wildfires. Approximately 10% of all land in the lower 48 states is classified as WUI. A significant concentration lies along the East Coast, although western states have the highest proportions of homes in the WUI. Federal funding for wildfire protection has increased over the last decade. The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Department of the Interior (DOI) receive the bulk of funding to prevent and suppress wildfires. In 2014, approximately 56% of the USFS budget (discretionary funding) was allocated for wildfire management. A portion of this funding is spent on WUI efforts. Wildfire, whether in a WUI community or not, occurs primarily as a surface fire or a crown fire. A 'surface fire' burns the needles or leaves, grass, and other small biomass within a foot or so of the ground and quickly moves on. A 'crown fire' burns biomass at all levels, from the surface through the tops of the trees."

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CRS Report for Congress, RS21880
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