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.


Page Count
Date Published
May 1, 2012
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

About the Authors

Molly Mowery, AICP
Molly Mowery, AICP is Executive Director and co-founder of the non-profit organization Community Wildfire Planning Center and founder of Wildfire Planning International. As a certified planner with 20 years of experience, Ms. Mowery focuses on integrating wildfire hazard and resiliency with land use planning practices. She has authored, presented, and taught on land use planning and wildfire topics across the U.S. and internationally, including serving as lead author of APA’s PAS Report Planning the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI), providing technical expertise on Canada’s National Guide for Wildland-Urban interface Fires, and developing and teaching WUI planning courses for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Ms. Mowery currently serves as chair of the APA’s Hazard Mitigation and Disaster Recovery Division. She 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.