Limiting Wildfire Risk Through Land-Use Controls
Zoning Practice — May 2012
By Molly Mowery, AICP, Paul Anthony, AICP
Preferences for second homes, suburban lifestyles, and the desire to live closer to nature have pushed populations into the wildland-urban interface (WUI) — areas with more vegetation, parks, and forests than their dense city center counterparts. Living closer to nature offers many benefits, but all too often the risk of brush, grass, or forest fires gets overlooked.
The reality of wildfire, however, is one we cannot afford to ignore. Losses associated with fires occurring in the WUI and on municipal lands cost local governments millions of dollars annually.
This issue of Zoning Practice summarizes findings from a National Fire Protection Association study assessing the potential effectiveness of using local regulatory and planning tools to address community wildfire risk and provides an overview of land-use tools planners can use to minimize wildfire risk in their communities.
About the Authors
Molly Mowery, AICP
Molly Mowery, AICP is Executive Director for the non-profit organization Community Wildfire Planning Center and founder of Wildfire Planning International. For more than 15 years, Molly has been a pioneer in integrating wildfire hazard mitigation with land use planning practices. Molly has developed land use planning programs and trainings, including wildland-urban interface planning courses for FEMA and CAL FIRE, and served as the lead author of the American Planning Association publication Planning the Wildland-Urban Interface. Molly has worked with communities across the U.S. and Canada, and drafted land use planning guidance for the National Research Council of Canada’s National Guide for Wildland-Urban interface Fires. Molly frequently presents on wildfire planning topics and provided the Norman Williams Distinguished Lecture in Land Use Planning and Law hosted by the Vermont Law School in 2021. She is a certified planner with the American Institute of Certified Planners and chair-elect of the APA Hazard Mitigation and Disaster Recovery Planning Division. Molly earned a bachelor of arts from Naropa University (Boulder, CO) and a master in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA).
Paul Anthony, AICP
Paul Anthony is a Principal Planner with the Town of Jackson WY. He has over 20 years of diverse land use experience in local government, private consulting, and nonprofits. He has helped communities throughout the West adopt new zoning codes with a focus on sustainability, land use law, urban design, and public engagement. Mr. Anthony has an undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame, a Masters in Urban and Environmental Planning from the University of Virginia, and a law degree from Lewis and Clark Law School.