Wildfire Alternatives (WALTER)

Project Dates

Wildfire Alternatives (WALTER), is a multifaceted University of Arizona initiative designed to facilitate strategic planning for wildland fire management. The primary goal of WALTER is to improve understanding of how interactions among climate, fuels, fire history, and human factors influence fire risk, and to devise innovative ways to deliver information derived from this understanding to fire managers and community members concerned about strategic planning for wildland fire risk. The project focused on four study areas: the Catalina-Rincon, Huachuca, Chiricahua, and Jemez mountains.

Data were collected from a wide range of sources and transformed into GIS databases and map layers. Field research was conducted to ground-truth remotely sensed data on fuel moisture levels. A survey was conducted to ascertain the perceptions of local residents in the four study areas regarding fire risk in their area. These data were digitized into one of the layers of the model. Techniques based on Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) were incorporated to enable users to weight the GIS layers themselves as part of the process of producing maps of fire risk. User input was solicited throughout the project and formal user evaluations of the GIS decision support tool, Fire-Climate-Society Version 1 (FCS-1), were conducted once the model was completed. Comments, information, and recommendations from stakeholder participants were incorporated into the design process.