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In response to increasing demand for more accurate and up-to-date wildfire risk information across the South, the SGSF embarked on a wildfire risk assessment for the entire South, completing the project in 2005. The goal of the Southern Wildfire Risk Assessment (SWRA) project was to provide a consistent, comparable set of scientific results to be used as a foundation for wildfire mitigation and prevention planning in the Southern states. The SWRA data has been in use since and some individual states have undertaken updates in recent years. Continued enhancement and updates for the entire South are planned in the near future to reflect changes in the landscape that have occurred since the original SWRA completion.

Needing a way to deliver the information quickly and seamlessly to stakeholders, SGSF has recently developed the Southern Wildfire Risk Assessment Portal (SouthWRAP), built upon the success of the Texas Wildfire Risk Assessment Portal (TxWRAP). SouthWRAP is the primary mechanism by which SGSF is creating awareness among the public and arming state and local government planners with information to support mitigation and prevention efforts. SouthWRAP contains data for 13 Southern states, excluding Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, that did not participate in the initial SWRA project. Future updates hope to include all SGSF members.
Note that some Texas information is not available within SouthWRAP, as the TxWRAP site provides access to their updated wildfire risk assessment data. However, some data updates have occurred for other states that are available in SouthWRAP. This includes Florida, which incorporates their 2010 assessment update, and Oklahoma, which incorporates their 2012 fuels and canopy mapping updates.

Results of the SWRA can be used to help prioritize areas in the state where tactical analyses, community interaction and education, or mitigation treatments might be necessary to reduce risk from wildfires. In addition, the information provided in the assessment can be used to support the following key priorities:

  • Identify areas that are most prone to wildfire
  • Identify areas that may require additional tactical planning, specifically related to mitigation projects and Community Wildfire Protection Planning
  • Provide the information necessary to justify resource, budget and funding requests
  • Allow agencies to work together to better define priorities and improve emergency response, particularly across jurisdictional boundaries
  • Define wildland communities and identify the risk to those communities
  • Increase communication with local residents and the public to address community priorities and needs
  • Plan for response and suppression resource needs
  • Plan and prioritize hazardous fuel treatment programs

With the successful completion of the SWRA project, the Southern state continue to be a national leader in wildfire protection planning. The SouthWRAP web site provides access to the SWRA information in an easy-to-use web mapping application for both professional fire planners and the public.

Project Participants

SGSF would like to thank the following agencies for participating and helping to make the SWRA and SouthWRAP projects a success.