Department of Economics Spring 2019 Brown Bag Series

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Date(s) - 04/15/2019
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Andrew G. Clark Building

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The Brown Bag Seminar Series offers current ECON graduate students the opportunity to present ongoing research or to workshop new ideas. The seminars are held on Mondays from 12:00-1:00pm in Clark C307 and are open to everyone.

For more information on the series or specific seminars, please contact Sarah Small at or Nina Poerbonegoro at

April 15th’s presenter is ECON PhD. graduate student Brad Hartman.

He will be presenting his paper: The WVRT: Geo-locating Wildfire Risk and Promoting Optimal Mitigation Spending Allocations.

Abstract: Since 2010, the tide of wildfire destruction across large residential swathes of Texas, Colorado, and particularly California, has policymakers scrambling for methods to assess and reduce wildfire risk. Between 2013 and 2017 an average of 6.7 million acres of land were burned each year. This is approximately double the average yearly acreage burn of the 1990s. By itself this trend would not be alarming as much of the wildfire burn can be beneficial to local ecosystems, serving as a revitalizing purge. Yet, one of the more significant concerns of recent wildfires has been a surge in the number of structures damaged. There were 1,953 structured burned by wildfires in 2014 and more than 12,000 in 2017. The Wildfire Values at Risk Tool (WVRT) is a software program built to aid policymakers in wildfire risk identification. The WVRT uses data from multiple sources. Wildfire risk data is taken from the Wildfire Hazard Potential Map from the United States Forest Service. To estimate the value of local assets we use housing data from the US Census Bureau at the census tract level. To classify wildfire risk we created methods to evaluate, for a given community, wildfire risk intensity relative to assets and values. This evaluation is quantified into a metric called the RVD or Risk Value Density. Regions meeting a high risk criteria then have their RVDs estimated and ranked. This RVD and ranking is constructed such that the top ranked areas are suggested as the highest priorities for policy intervention. Therefore, provided with a useful geopolitical entity, such as a county or state, the WVRT enables policymakers to locate the regions within their jurisdiction that are most in need and optimize the allocation of preventative and mitigatory spending.