ESSAYS ON NATURAL HAZARD MITIGATION AND FOREST COVER CHANGE
Ferris, Jeffrey Sheppard
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In the first chapter of my dissertation, I assess the affect of wires alerts for exteme weather on hazard mitigation. Wireless alerts delivered through mobile phones are a recent innovation in regulatory efforts towards preparation for extreme weather events including flash floods. In this article, I use difference-in-differences models of car accidents and traffic volume, respectively, from days with government issued alerts for flash flood in the State of Virginia. I find that wireless messages for flash flood reduced car accidents by -17.3 percent and reduced traffic volume by -5.2 percent, relative to the predicted level using standard, non-wireless alert protocols. These results imply that wireless warning messages effectively contribute to reductions in exposure to hazards associated with extreme weather. In my second paper, I analyze the effects of a unique forest conservation policy on residential development and assess the additionality in forest cover due to this policy. I combine panel data on forest cover change from satellite imagery and parcel-level modeling on residential development, including residential subdivisions occurring before and after policy adoption. My results indicate that after introducing the policy, there was a 23% increase in forest cover within subdivisions relative to the amount without the policy. In my third and final paper, I assess the effect of a California 1992 wildfire hazard disclosure law on parcel level probability of development using panel data on the location and timing of residential development. I find that after the introduction of the hazard disclosure law, annual probability of development is reduced by -13% and -24%, for parcels located in high and very high severity areas, respectively. Based upon these results, the 1992 hazard disclosure law was at least moderately effective at updating homeowners' subjective perception of exposure to wildfire risk and reducing the rate of development in the highest severity locations.