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 serves as the Executive Director of the Community Wildfire Planning Center and is also the founder of Wildfire Planning International. Throughout her career Ms. Mowery has successfully launched and managed national wildfire programs, designed national trainings to educate land use planners and fire professionals, and coauthored numerous publications on the wildland-urban interface (WUI). She is currently working with California state fire agencies to support the update of fire safe regulations and develop wildfire planning trainings. She also led the research and development of the Governor's Office of Planning and Research WUI Planning Best Practices Guide. Ms. Mowery holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Naropa University and a Master in City Planning degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is the chair-elect of APA's Hazard Mitigation and Disaster Recovery division.

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.