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Using Economic Tools for Fuels Treatment Planning: A Case Study on the St. Mary’s Reserve, Cranbrook, British Columbia

Thomas Hobby


This paper presents a Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) case study using a cost-benefit analysis approach for evaluating a fuels treatment project on the St. Mary’s Reserve, which is located near Cranbrook, British Columbia. The study evaluates a base case and an alternative business scenario where biomass is utilized for energy production and a local log market for ponderosa pine is established, both of which presently do not exist, but are being explored by community proponents. The results of the study indicate that under the base case, fuels treatment costs were estimated to cost ($-180) per hectare without biomass utilization and a local market for ponderosa pine. Under a biomass utilization and local market for ponderosa pine scenario, the project generated a net positive return of $589 per hectare before fuel treatment costs were included, and post fuel treatment cost would generate a return of $209 per hectare. The paper concludes that using economic tools for assisting WUI fuels treatment planning is essential for understanding costs and for supporting fuel treatment funding applications. Using software tools such as the Landscape Management System is a good option for conducting stand level WUI cost-benefit analyses. Further research expanding LMS applications to a landscape level are recommended and would assist community wildfire protection planning in the region.