The most vexing problems in wildland fire management cannot be solved by looking solely at landscape conditions, nor is a community perspective adequate by itself. A combination of the two sheds light on the most difficult issues. Placing the community clusters in juxtaposition with the landscape classes creates a combination class that provides greater environmental context to the community clusters, while simultaneously enhancing the socioeconomic dimensions of the landscape classes.
The intersection of the community clusters with the landscape resiliency classes and the number of counties in each combination class is shown in table 2.1. Blank spaces in the table indicate that no counties fell within the intersection. The table indicates the number of counties, not the spatial extent covered by each combination class; differences in county size across the country affect the distribution of area.
An interesting observation from this table is that almost all of the possible combinations are represented by one or more counties. This spread across combinations reflects the considerable diversity found across the United States. It also highlights the challenges that arise when trying to make generalizations. Fortunately, the total number of combinations (79) is manageable, and there are distinct patterns that suggest common narratives.
Although a landscape class may be distributed across all community clusters (or vice versa), they are not independent. That is, there are distinct patterns of association or spatial correlations between the two such that various combinations occur more frequently than they would by chance alone, while others occur less frequently. Combinations where the observed frequency is twice or more the expected frequency are highlighted in green in table 2.1. For example, landscape class A, which represents a landscape dominated by human development, is strongly associated with community clusters 7 and 8, which are primarily urban and suburban communities, respectively. Similarly, landscape class D has a strong association with community cluster 5, both of which are often associated with counties dominated by agricultural development. The association between classes and clusters reflects both the human footprint on landscapes, and conversely how biophysical landscapes have influenced human development.
It is reasonable to ask whether the combination of landscape and communities is sufficient to cover all the complexities and issues that are involved in wildland fire. For example, can we distinguish between areas with different levels of response capacity, the complexities of mixed land ownership, and overlapping jurisdictional responsibilities? Many of these issues were examined, and consideration was given to whether an additional classification system(s) might be necessary. In general, the two-dimensional system proved adequate for addressing the issues at hand. Those few issues that exhibit geographical patterns that cannot be explained with the combination classes can be examined using other means.
Conclusion: The combination of landscape resiliency classes and community clusters provides a powerful mechanism to discern and relate both the environmental and socioeconomic dimensions of the landscape simultaneously.