As part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, residents of Park County are adept at living with natural disturbances, including everything from bison mowing down fences, to flooding from ice dams on the Yellowstone River, to wildfire. In the last three decades, more than one million acres of land in Park County have burned. The most recent large fire in 2012 destroyed five homes and several outbuildings.
As a primary gateway to Yellowstone National Park and home to world class trout fishing, hunting, and some of Montana’s most spectacular landscapes in the aptly named Paradise Valley, Park County is also under increasing development pressure.
Partners in Park County are using the CPAW process to better understand Montana’s land use planning tools that can help a community become more fire-adapted, and to improve local understanding of the economic costs and benefits of fire mitigation strategies. CPAW has completed the first of three research projects, which synthesizes the regulatory framework and land use policies permitted in Montana for wildfire mitigation. In addition, CPAW will complete research that quantifies the full, long-term community costs of wildfire, such as impacts to tourism, business revenue, infrastructure, property values, and ecosystem services. The final research project will identify the costs of constructing ignition-resistant homes.
This research will help partners in Park County – including county commissioners, planners, firefighters, state and federal land management agencies, landowners, real estate professionals, businesses, and neighborhoods – further the dialogue about fire-adapted community strategies as Park County continues to grow.
The Park County CPAW project is supported in part by the LOR Foundation.