Since 2018, SIG was the research lead for the “Quantifying Ecosystem Service Benefits of the Reduced Occurrence of Significant Wildfires,” which aimed to develop a standardized method to account for carbon emissions savings, water quantity and quality improvements and avoided habitat losses from avoided wildfires, through fuel reduction, in California. The project then streamlined the accounting framework, built scientific consensus around the framework, and garnered stakeholder support for using it.

This new project, in support of the Coalition for the Upper South Platte (CUSP), is expanding upon this previous framework to make it applicable to Colorado wildfires as well. SIG is developing a multi-state avoided wildfire emissions protocol (based on fuel reduction methods) and is in the early stage of submitting the protocol to the American Carbon Registry for endorsement. Such a project expansion is useful to CUSP because they will be using already-developed and tested methods for carbon emission accounting, they will have SIG leadership in guiding them through the American Carbon Registry protocol review process, and they will have full access to the scientific and technical materials developed during the earlier project.

While the current project is only extending the protocol to Colorado, given the similarities of wildfires across all Western states, it may be useful to eventually expand the protocol to cover all Western states, and develop a cohesive regional protocol for avoiding catastrophic wildfires through fuel reduction.