Scientists & Staff
Current ResearchWildland-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).
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.
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
- Mockrin, Miranda H.; Stewart, Susan I.; Radeloff, Volker C.; Hammer, Roger B.; Alexandre, Patricia M. 2015. Adapting to wildfire: Rebuilding after home loss. Society and Natural Resources: An International Journal. 28(8): 839-856.
- Martinuzzi, Sebastiín; 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. Research Map NRS-8. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 124 p. [includes pull-out map].
- Wigtil, Gabriel; Hammer, Roger B.; Kline, Jeffrey D.; Mockrin, Miranda H.; Stewart, Susan I.; Roper, Daniel; Radeloff, Volker C. 2016. Places where wildfire potential and social vulnerability coincide in the coterminous United States. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 25: 896-908.
- Alexandre, Patricia M.; Mockrin, Miranda H.; Stewart, Susan I.; Hammer, Roger B.; Radeloff, Volker C. 2015. Rebuilding and new housing development after wildfire. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 24: 138-149.
- Pejchar, Liba; Reed, Sarah E.; Bixler, Patrick; Ex, Lindsay; Mockrin, Miranda H. 2015. Consequences of residential development for biodiversity and human well-being. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 13(3): 146-153.
Publications & Products
- 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. 2018. Rapid growth of the US wildland-urban interface raises wildfire risk. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
- Binder, Seth; Haight, Robert G.; Polasky, Stephen; Warziniack, Travis; Mockrin, Miranda H.; Deal, Robert L.; Arthaud, Greg. 2017. Assessment and valuation of forest ecosystem services: State of the science review. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-170. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 47 p.
- Mockrin, Miranda H.; Reed, Sarah E.; Pejchar, Liba; Salo, Jessica. 2017. Balancing housing growth and land conservation: Conservation development preserves private lands near protected areas. Landscape and Urban Planning, 157: 598-607.
- Alexandre, Patricia M.; Stewart, Susan I.; Keuler, Nicholas S.; Clayton, Murray K.; Mockrin, Miranda H.; Bar-Massada, Avi; Syphard, Alexandra D.; Radeloff, Volker C. 2016. Factors related to building loss due to wildfires in the conterminous United States. Ecological Applications. 26(7): 2323-2338.
- Mockrin, Miranda H.; Stewart, Susan I.; Radeloff, Volker C.; Hammer, Roger B. 2016. Recovery and adaptation after wildfire on the Colorado Front Range (2010-12). International Journal of Wildland Fire
- Alexandre, Patricia M.; Stewart, Susan I.; Mockrin, Miranda H.; Keuler, Nicholas S.; Syphard, Alexandra D.; Bar-Massada, Avi; Clayton, Murray K.; Radeloff, Volker C. 2015. The relative impacts of vegetation, topography and spatial arrangement on building loss to wildfires in case studies of California and Colorado. Landscape Ecology. 31: 415-430.
- Heath, Linda S.; Anderson, Sarah M.; Emery, Marla R.; Hicke, Jeffrey A.; Littell, Jeremy; Lucier, Alan; Masek, Jeffrey G.; Peterson, David L.; Pouyat, Richard; Potter, Kevin M.; Robertson, Guy; Sperry, Jinelle; Bytnerowicz, Andrzej; Jovan, Sarah; Mockrin, Miranda H.; Musselman, Robert; Schulz, Bethany K.; Smith, Robert J.; Stewart, Susan I. 2015. Indicators of climate impacts for forests: recommendations for the US National Climate Assessment indicators system. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-155. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 143 p.
- Baldwin, Rob; Scherzinger, Ryan; Lipscomb, Don; Mockrin, Miranda; Stein, Susan. 2014. Planning for land use and conservation: Assessing GIS-based conservation software for land use planning. Res. Note RMRS-RN-70. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 33 p.
- Mockrin, M. H.; Lilja, R. L.; Weidner, E.; Stein, S. M.; Carr, M. A. 2014. Private forests, housing growth, and America's water supply: A report from the Forests on the Edge and Forests to Faucets Projects. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-327. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 29 p.
- Mockrin, Miranda H.; Bowker, J. M.; Smith, Katherine; West, Cindi. 2014. Outdoor recreation in shifting societal and natural landscapes. In: Transactions of the Seventy-Ninth North American Wildlife & Natural Resources Conference. Denver, CO, March 10-14, 2014.
- Bar-Massada, Avi; Stewart, Susan I.; Hammer, Roger B.; Mockrin, Miranda H.; Radeloff, Volker C. 2013. Using structure locations as a basis for mapping the wildland urban interface. Journal of Environmental Management. 128: 540-547.
- Mockrin, Miranda H.; Stewart, Susan I.; Radeloff, Volker C.; Hammer, Roger B.; Johnson, Kenneth M. 2013. Spatial and temporal residential density patterns from 1940 to 2000 in and around the Northern Forest. Population and Environment. 34(3): 400-419.
- Sturges, Frank; Joyce, Linda; Brown, Tom; Flather, Curt; Mockrin, Miranda; Reeves, Matt. 2013. Science You Can Use Bulletin: Coming to a landscape near you: Natural resource changes in the Interior West. Science You Can Use Bulletin, Issue 8. Fort Collins, CO: Rocky Mountain Research Station. 13 p.
- Johnson, Kenneth M.; Stewart, Susan I.; Mockrin, Miranda H. 2012. Demographic change in the northern forest. Carsey Institute, University of New Hampshire. Issue Brief no. 46. Winter 2012. 8 p.
- Mockrin, Miranda H.; Aiken, Richard A.; Flather, Curtis H. 2012. Wildlife-associated recreation trends in the United States: a technical document supporting the Forest Service 2010 RPA Assessment. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-293. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 34 p.
- Mockrin, Miranda H.; Gravenmier, Rebecca A. 2012. Synthesis of wind energy development and potential impacts on wildlife in the Pacific Northwest, Oregon and Washington. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-863. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 55 p
- Stewart, Susan I.; Mockrin, Miranda H.; Hammer, Roger B. 2012. Linking human and natural systems in the planning process. In: Laband, David N.; Lockaby, B. Graeme; Zipperer, Wayne, eds. Urban-rural interfaces: Linking people and nature. Madison, WI: American Society of Agronomy; Soil Science Society of America; Crop Science Society of America. p. 275-286.
- Mockrin, Miranda H.; Rockwell, Robert F.; Redford, Kent H.; Keuler, Nicholas S. 2011. Effects of landscape features on the distribution and sustainability of ungulate hunting in northern Congo. Conservation Biology. 25(3): 514-525.
- 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. Fort Collins, CO: Forest Service Research Data Archive. https://doi.org/10.2737/RDS-2015-0012.
National Research Highlights
Leading by example: Federal agencies use Forest Service Data on Wildland-Urban Interface to reduce fire risk
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.
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.
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.
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