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Colorado Wildfire Risk Assessment 2017


In response to on-going demand for more accurate and up-to-date wildfire risk information across the state, the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) has recently updated the Colorado Wildfire Risk Assessment. Originally conducted in 2012, the Colorado risk assessment is published on the Colorado Wildfire Risk Assessment Web Portal (CO-WRAP), providing direct access to the data with reporting and mapping tools. With numerous disturbances occurring to the Colorado landscape since 2012, CSFS has recently completed an update to the risk assessment that brings the data and results current with 2017 conditions.

The goal of the project is to provide a consistent, comparable set of scientific results to be used as a foundation for wildfire mitigation and prevention planning in Colorado. The results were completed in November 2018 using methods consistent with 2012. The enhancements focus on updating the primary fuels data and derived fire behavior outputs to generate up-to-date risk assessment results. Numerous data updates were completed and are documented in the assessment final report. Users are urged to review the report to understand the scope of enhancements that were included.

The CSFS has published the latest assessment data on CO-WRAP in order to deliver the information quickly and seamlessly to stakeholders. Through CO-WRAP, the CSFS is creating awareness among the public and providing federal, state and local government planners with information to support mitigation and prevention efforts.

Results of the assessment can be used to help prioritize areas in the state where tactical analyses, community interaction and education, or mitigation projects might be necessary to reduce wildfire risk. In addition, the information provided in the assessment can be used to support the following priorities:

  • Create public awareness about wildfire risk
  • Provide state and local planners with information to support mitigation and prevention efforts
  • Assist in the development of Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs) and other hazard mitigation plans
  • Complement forest stewardship and forest management plans
  • Inform decision-making at local and state levels
  • Provide the information necessary to justify resource, budget and funding requests
  • Allow agencies to work together to better define priorities and improve emergency response, particularly across jurisdictional boundaries

With the successful completion of the 2017 Colorado Wildfire Risk Assessment Update project, the CSFS continues to provide timely guidance for focused wildfire mitigation efforts across Colorado. This latest risk assessment builds upon the success and methods of the 2012 assessment, and incorporates a detailed calibration of fuels data that resulted in the most complete and accurate surface fuels data available for Colorado. This calibration addressed issues identified in the 2012 LANDFIRE fuels data, resulting in a seamless fuels data product that better reflects Colorado conditions and fire behavior. This fuels update provided the basis for updating the risk outputs. Numerous other data enhancements were also completed including a new statewide burn probability layer, produced using Technosylva's Wildfire AnalystTM, an advanced GIS tool for modeling wildfire behavior and spread. Burn probability is based on millions of wildfire simulations and weighted by historical wildfire density, weather scenarios and ignition points. This layer replaces the "Wildfire Threat layer" in 2012 CO-WRA.