Mount Shasta HS grad wins national Master's thesis award

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald
Anna Scofield-Clark holds the 2015 national award she won from the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association for her Master's thesis work. Roger Coupal, left, was one of her advisors and the department head of the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Wyoming. Don McLeod, right, her major advisor, is a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics. Scofield-Clark is a 2003 graduate of Mount Shasta High School.

Mount Shasta High School graduate Anna Scofield-Clark won the 2015 National Award from the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association for her Master’s thesis.

A wildland firefighter for seven seasons, Scofield-Clark wrote her thesis on how the spatial pattern of residential development impacts federal fire suppression expenditures.

A 2014 master’s graduate of the University of Wyoming, her research was the source for a Wyoming Open Spaces Initiative report titled “Residential Development Effects on Firefighting Costs in the Wildland-Urban Interface.”

She and her co-authors, including her thesis advisors at the University of Wyoming, suggest strategic land-use planning can increase firefighting efficiency and reduce wildfire suppression costs.

The report is available online from the University of Wyoming Extension at bit.ly/Firedevelopmentcost.

Scofield-Clark said her thesis research matched data from 291 wildfires in Colorado, Montana and Wyoming from 2002 to 2011 with data on where homes were in relation to the fires and to one another.

She said the fire data was obtained from the US Forest Service research station in Missoula, Mont., and she spent a summer of her thesis work “calling county assessors to get them to share data with me” about where homes were located and when they were built.

“We had to know where the fires were and had to know data about the fires – how windy it was, whether they were burning in grass or timber, variables that would make it more or less expensive,” she said.

The data was then processed using two spatial analysis programs, Scofield-Clark said.

Her advisor, Don McLeod, is quoted in a University of Wyoming Extension news article saying Scofield-Clark “brought a wealth of personal experience and technical on-the-ground knowledge to the research.”

McLeod states in the article that Scofield-Clark’s thesis “suggests the spatial pattern of development in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) can be just as effective reducing fire suppression costs as policies that restrict all development... Such results provide important fodder for the ongoing policy debates surrounding the WUI, especially in the West where private property rights are closely guarded.”

A 2003 graduate of Mount Shasta High School, Scofield-Clark earned her BS degree in Range Management at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and now lives in Klamath Falls, Ore.

She received several awards as a student in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at University of Wyoming, including the 2013 Vanvig Graduate Fellowship in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics and the Wyoming chapter of Gamma Sigma Delta honor society’s master’s student award in 2014.

She presented information at the Association of Fire Ecology in 2012 and is co-author of a 2013 book chapter.

Her thesis work – with help from committee members, professors Roger Coupal and Don McLeod, associate professor Ben Rashford and research scientists Scott Lieske and Shannon Albeke – has been accepted for publication in the journal Land Economics.