Natural Hazards

, Volume 83, Issue 1, pp 149–176

Minimizing economic impacts from post-fire debris flows in the western United States

  • Kevin McCoy
  • Vitaliy Krasko
  • Paul Santi
  • Daniel Kaffine
  • Steffen Rebennack
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11069-016-2306-0

Cite this article as:
McCoy, K., Krasko, V., Santi, P. et al. Nat Hazards (2016) 83: 149. doi:10.1007/s11069-016-2306-0


For individual burned drainage basins, existing hazard models and readily available data can be combined in a geographic information system to rapidly estimate debris-flow-related damages following a wildfire. The results can then be integrated into an optimization model, whose output guides allocation of emergency management funds and selection of cost-optimized debris-flow management strategies for burned areas consisting of multiple drainage basins. This paper describes methods to identify and value elements-at-risk from a range of possible post-fire debris-flow scenarios, methods to integrate these results with common debris-flow mitigation techniques and best management practices, and methods to apply this information to optimize the mitigation decisions for burned areas. Despite the potential to transform the way hazard managers approach debris-flow mitigation decisions following wildfires, natural hazard and social science management models have not previously been linked in the literature. Results from Santa Barbara (California), Great Sand Dunes National Park (Colorado), and Colfax/Las Animas Counties (Colorado, New Mexico) study sites indicate that optimization modeling can be used to select natural hazard management methods whose benefit for mitigation of post-fire debris flows can easily outweigh the cost of implementation.


Debris flow Natural hazard mitigation Hazard management optimization Economic risk Optimal risk management Wildfire 

Funding information

Funder NameGrant NumberFunding Note
Joint Fire Science Program
  • National Interagency Fire Center Project 12-2-01-35
National Science Foundation
  • Graduate Research Fellowship grant DGE-1057607

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geology and Geological EngineeringColorado School of MinesGoldenUSA
  2. 2.Division of Economics and BusinessColorado School of MinesGoldenUSA
  3. 3.Department of EconomicsUniversity of Colorado at BoulderBoulderUSA
  4. 4.Colorado Geological SurveyColorado School of MinesGoldenUSA

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