Responding to Risky Neighbors: Testing for Spatial Spillover Effects for Defensible Space in a Fire-Prone WUI Community

  • Travis WarziniackEmail author
  • Patricia Champ
  • James Meldrum
  • Hannah Brenkert-Smith
  • Christopher M. Barth
  • Lilia C. Falk


Often, factors that determine the risk of an environmental hazard occur at landscape scales, and risk mitigation requires action by multiple private property owners. How property owners respond to risk mitigation on neighboring lands depends on whether mitigation actions are strategic complements or strategic substitutes. We test for these neighbor interactions with a case study on wildfire risk mitigation on private properties. We use two measures of wildfire risk mitigation—an assessment by a wildfire professional and a self-assessment by homeowners. Taken together, the two assessments provide the first empirical explanation for strategic complements in wildfire risk mitigation and a more complete picture of how homeowners respond to this landscape-scale risk. We find homeowners that mitigate risk on their land are more likely to have neighbors that do the same, and homeowners that fail to mitigate risk are more likely to have neighbors that fail to do so as well. Due to spatial spillovers, motivating a few key residents to take action could reduce risk across the landscape.


WUI Neighbor effects Spatial spillovers Wildfire Defensible space Endogenous risk 



This work has been supported in part by funds from the National Fire Plan, in partnership with the US Forest Service, US Bureau of Land Management, and the West Region Wildfire Council. We are grateful for the help, kindness, and support of firefighters and residents of Log Hill Mesa.


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Travis Warziniack
    • 1
    Email author
  • Patricia Champ
    • 1
  • James Meldrum
    • 2
  • Hannah Brenkert-Smith
    • 3
  • Christopher M. Barth
    • 4
  • Lilia C. Falk
    • 5
  1. 1.USFS Rocky Mountain Research StationFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.US Geological SurveyFort CollinsUSA
  3. 3.Institute of Behavior ScienceUniversity of Colorado – BoulderBoulderUSA
  4. 4.Bureau of Land ManagementBillingsUSA
  5. 5.West Region Wildfire CouncilMontroseUSA

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