Hot Spots: A Proposed Strategy for Reducing the Risk of Wildfire to Cultural Resources

Author(s): Jorie Clark; Jeremy Littell

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me: What Have We Learned Over the Past 40 Years and How Do We Address Future Challenges" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Climate change during the 21st century presents a significant challenge to the mandated protection of cultural resources. In interior continental areas such as the Northern Rockies, increased wildfire activity due to longer fire seasons has the potential to damage if not destroy sites. Here we propose a strategy that will take proactive measures to reduce risk to cultural resources from wildfire, thus increasing efficiency in using heritage and fire resources for protecting sites at risk. The strategy proposes to use the best available science to prepare in advance for heritage sites that are most at-risk from wildfire. We present an example of applying wildfire projections for the 2040s and 2080s that quantify the change in area burned at the scale of Bailey’s ecosections, allowing the identification of areas of future high-fire risk under climate change. We then would use GIS to overlay within-ecosection fuel type to refine the risk map of cultural resource sites. We would next prioritize those sites in areas of high-fire risk according to significance, vulnerability, etc. Finally, we would develop management plans to reduce impacts from wildfire. We conclude with a discussion of approaches that can be taken to further downscale wildfire projections.

Cite this Record

Hot Spots: A Proposed Strategy for Reducing the Risk of Wildfire to Cultural Resources. Jorie Clark, Jeremy Littell. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 452025)

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 24805