Urban Wildland interface

Just cause Americans aspire to having their log cabin in the wilderness, urban realities don't mix with the the habit that surrounds us. As the NYtimes explores living with bears, most suburbs deal with deer, coyote and other less dangerous fauna. Not to discount the rodent population in urban centers as being risk free, but hey you choose to live where you live.

As Malibu burns (again), crocodiles crawl into family backyards, and the reservoirs run dry in georgia - where we live is linked to the health of the environment... Once you chop down the forests, rainfall patterns shift, so the amazon, the panama canal, and geogia have created their own drought by developmental sprawl (this phenomena is independent of global warming).

Just cause we like living surrounded by the glories of nature, maybe we're loving nature too much. Are we destroying nature or is nature going to destroy us?

How can we define and defend the interface between our anthropocentric landscapes and wilderness as population grows and we seek solitude further and further out?

Can we leave roadless areas alone or is that doomed to fail under the relentless push of the buldozer?

Nov 24, 07 12:04 pm


Nov 24, 07 5:03 pm  · 

Think about why the bulldozer relentlessly pushes along. Land development is essentially a cash cow that generates a large value increase, a major economic force and big tax revenue generator. I wish it wasn't that way too, but it is. If there's any solution, it's probably to be found within focusing on what you're trying to stop rather than on what you're trying to save.

Nov 24, 07 5:21 pm  · 
le bossman

i don't know that roadless areas can be left alone forever. one of my projects right now deals with an urban wildland interface, and basically it is just a few common sense rules put forth to deal with things like danger from forest fires. i think if people learn to build intelligently, there will be less of a problem. the point is not to cease building altogether, but to do it in an intelligent way that minimizes the visual and ecological impact on the environment.

Nov 24, 07 6:44 pm  · 

uh you guys might want to check out the integrating habitats competition, seems right up your alley.

Nov 25, 07 12:56 am  · 
Next American City

explores pyro urbanism and the mississippi floods in a new article spotted first by pruned.

a great resource cited is the fire information engine

In the next few months, I'm drafting a policy about the Wildland Urban Interface for the ASLA. Any suggestions of what I should be advocating for? urban growth boundaries? Integration of fire ecology into zoning codes? mandatory fire sprinklers? enlarging defensive planting zones? native species versus non-flammable low-ecological value plants?

Apr 27, 08 2:04 pm  · 

Barry they all sound good.
I think of particular importance the concept of urban growth boundaries is key.
Especially in areas like Southern Cali where the tract and suburban housing growth has increased dramatically the pressures on local fire prone ecologies..

Apr 27, 08 4:19 pm  · 

Also, i read that Next American City article, (which by the way is an amazing Magazine, thanks for bringing it to my attention) it seems one key issue re: the WUI is that whether in the West or along the Gulf Coast, the risk maps are so out of date that they were in serious need of updating. Thankfully this seems to finally be happening. I remember hearing how even in my neck of the woods the Corps and other entities have been updating their flood maps

And i am not show sure that the only or primary correct response is to encourage shelter in residence housing codes. Seems like dealing with the symptom not the underlying issue.

Also, the article on the "Deep Tunnel" Project was pretty enlightening. I had heard that Milwaukee water quality had shot up in recent years due to reduced combined flows. But i didn't know the specifics. Pretty ingenious and simple sounding solution. Although i am sure it wasn't cheap.

Apr 27, 08 6:31 pm  · 

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