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Miranda Mockrin

Research Scientist
5523 Research Park Drive Suite 350
Baltimore, MD, 21228-4783
Phone: 443-543-5389

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Current Research

Wildland-urban interface (WUI) growth and policy interventions
Over the past 40 years, sprawling housing development has dramatically expanded the WUI, impacting biodiversity, native vegetation, and wildfire management. The 2010 WUI data are now published in an NRS R-Map; we will soon complete analysis of WUI change over three decades (1990-2010). I also examine alternatives to sprawl, such as conservation developments (i.e., clustered housing developments) that incorporate open space). While conservations developments contributed significantly to private land conservation in CO, their location near protected areas raised questions about their overall environmental impacts. Documenting growth management policies in areas with high WUI growth we find a variety of such policies and regulations in place, yet fewest in counties at the fringe of metropolitan areas where WUI growth is most rapid.

Adaptation, resilience, and vulnerability to hazards
National fire policy now calls for WUI communities to become "fire-adapted" so they coexist with wildfire, but does recovery after destructive wildfire lead to adaptation? Do people rebuild? Do they adapt to fire—change locations, materials, vegetation mitigation in meaningful ways? Examining fires that claimed homes (2000-2005, nationally) revealed that 25% of homes were rebuilt, but that new construction outpaced rebuilding, resulting in more buildings within fire perimeters 5 years after wildfire than before fire. My study of Colorado's Front Range post-fire revealed that local regulations requiring fire-resistant materials and landscaping resulted in modest progress toward adaptation. I currently lead a JFSP project to examine rebuilding nationally, and find communities have made limited changes in local regulations post-fire with no evidence of changes in land use planning. Instead, communities are adapting through increased outreach, suppression, and voluntary programs.

Demographic change and resource management
Overall growth of the U.S. population has slowed since the 1950s, but its composition (race, ethnicity, age) and distribution (across regions, across urban to rural areas) continues to change due to many factors including amenity and retirement migration. I work with demographers and RPA scientists to summarize changes in population composition and distribution explore their implications for natural resource management. Using census data, we developed a wildfire-specific social vulnerability index. Spatial analysis indicates where social vulnerability overlaps with fire and other hazards. We plan to use prescribed-fire smoke projections to identify smoke-related health risks for sensitive populations (e.g., elderly, young, minority).

Research Interests

I am a research scientist who studies conservation and land use, combining ecological and social science. Current research at the Northern Research Station focuses on understanding changing natural resource use and management with shifting human demographics, including examining mapping the growth of the wildland-urban interface (WUI) over time, examining rebuilding in the WUI after wildfire, studying housing development and its ecological and social effects, exploring alternative forms of development such as conservation development, and studying changing patterns of wildlife-based recreation (hunting and viewing). Research during my graduate career examined the linked ecological and social dynamics of subsistence wildlife harvesting in a Central African logging concession.

Past Research

1. Changes in wildlife-associated recreation participation (hunting and viewing) over time. 2. Analysis of housing growth in New England using census data to elucidate trends in the spatial and temporal development of residential housing, in and around the Northern Forest, from 1940-2000. 3. Doctoral research examined the spatial distribution and sustainability of hunting outside a protected area in Congo-Brazzaville

Why This Research is Important

Our communities have experienced substantial demographic, social, and economic transformations over the past 30 years. Suburban and exurban areas are become larger and more diverse, as residential development continues and population deconcentrates. Documenting these trends and understanding the factors that underlie them is essential to finding new ways of mitigating the impacts on natural resources. These changes will only intensify in the 21st Century: Americans are rapidly diversifying, sprawl is increasing, and climate change will increase disturbance from natural hazards (hurricanes, flooding, wildfire). 


  • Tufts University, B.S. Biopsychology, 1999
  • Columbia University, M.A. Ecology,
  • Columbia University, Ph.D. Ecology, 2008

Featured Publications & Products

Publications & Products

Research Datasets

  • Radeloff, Volker C.; Helmers, David P.; Kramer, H. Anu; Mockrin, Miranda H.; Alexandre, Patricia M.; Bar Massada, Avi; Butsic, Van; Hawbaker, Todd J.; Martinuzzi, Sebastián; Syphard, Alexandra D.; Stewart, Susan I. 2017. The 1990-2010 wildland-urban interface of the conterminous United States - geospatial data (2nd Edition). Fort Collins, CO: Forest Service Research Data Archive.
  • Martinuzzi, Sebastián; Stewart, Susan I.; Helmers, David P.; Mockrin, Miranda H.; Hammer, Roger B.; Radeloff, Volker C. 2015. The 2010 wildland-urban interface of the conterminous United States - geospatial data (1st Edition). Fort Collins, CO: Forest Service Research Data Archive.

National Research Highlights

Aerial images depicting degrees of wildland-urban interface.

Interface Areas Are Critical to Wildfire Losses

Year: 2019

In California, wildfire management has become more complex, costly, and dangerous. Research by a USDA Forest Service scientist and her partners found that wildfire losses in California are most common in settled areas with little wildland vegetation that are near large blocks of wildland vegetation. These areads contained more than 50 percent of all buildings lost to wildfire but composed only 2 percent of the area burned by wildfires during 1985 to 2013.

Housing development adjacent to undeveloped wildlands outside Reno, Nevada

Rapid Wildland-Urban Interface Growth Increases Wildfire Challenges

Year: 2018

The wildland-urban interface (WUI), where homes meet or intermingle with undeveloped forests and grasslands, is a critical area for wildfire and natural resource management. Both the number of homes in the WUI and total footprint of the WUI grew rapidly from 1990 to 2010, with broad implications for wildfire management and other natural resource management issues.

Structures lost to fire, Angeles National Forest. Miranda Mockrin, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

Leading by example: Federal agencies use Forest Service Data on Wildland-Urban Interface to reduce fire risk

Year: 2016

The U.S. Forest Service’s high-resolution mapping of wildland-urban interface (WUI) areas across the United States is being widely used through a Presidential Executive Order issued to reduce the risk of wildfire to Federal buildings. These data are available online for all users who want to do fine-grained analysis of WUI locations at the state or local level.

A home rebuilt after the 2010 Fourmile Canyon Fire, Boulder County. U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

Rebuilding After Wildfire: New Development Outpaces Rebuilds

Year: 2016

When wildland fires destroy buildings, do people rebuild? This study shows that the number of buildings inside the perimeter five years after the wildfires was greater than the number of buildings before the fires. Most of these buildings were from new construction.

Community sign about rebuilding after the 2012 High Park Fire, Larimer County. USDA Forest Service

Adapting to Wildfire: Rebuilding After Home Loss

Year: 2015

Wildfire management now emphasizes fire-adapted communities that coexist with wildfires, although it is unclear how communities will progress to this goal. Hazards research suggests that rebuilding after wildfire may be a crucial opportunity for homeowner and community adaptation. This study explores rebuilding activity after the 2010 Fourmile Canyon Fire inBoulder, Colo., which destroyed 165 homes, to better understand individual and community adaptation after wildfire.

Report cover

Changing Patterns of Wildlife Hunting and Viewing

Year: 2013

These findings help resource specialists explore the potential impacts of declining hunting participation, identify regions and activities that experience the greatest decline, anticipate changes to communities dependent on wildlife-associated recreation, and consider new mechanisms to fund wildlife management

Last modified: Tuesday, November 22, 2016