James Meldrum, Ph.D.
James Meldrum is a Research Economist in the Social and Economic Analysis Branch at the USGS Fort Collins Science Center, with a focus on ecosystem services. James earned a PhD in interdisciplinary environmental economics from CU-Boulder’s Environmental Studies Program in 2012. His research experience spans the human dimensions of a variety of natural resources (including water, energy, and non-timber forests) and hazards (including wildfire, floods, and invasive species), and he is an active member of an interdisciplinary research collaboration focused on homeowner wildfire risk mitigation and community wildfire adaptedness. James’s versatile research approach is grounded in economics and informed by resilience and sustainability.
- Ph.D. in Environmental Economics, Environmental Studies Program, University of Colorado Boulder, 2012
- M.S. in Environmental Economics, Environmental Studies Program, University of Colorado Boulder, 2010
- B.S. in Physics, with a second major in Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology, Washington University in St. Louis, 2005
- 2016 to present: Research Economist, U.S. Geological Survey, Fort Collins Science Center, Fort Collins, Colorado
- 2012 to 2016: Research Associate, University of Colorado Boulder, Institute of Behavioral Science, Boulder, Colorado
- 2012 to 2013: Research Scientist, University of Colorado Boulder, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, Boulder, Colorado
- 2011 to 2012: Policy Analysis Intern, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Strategic Energy Analysis Center, Golden, Colorado
- 2009 to 2011: Research Assistant, University of Colorado Boulder, Institute of Behavioral Science, Boulder, Colorado
- 2007 to 2009: Teaching Assistant, University of Colorado Boulder, Environmental Studies Program, Boulder, Colorado
- 2005 to 2006: Engineering Physicist, Stereotaxis, Inc., Systems Group, St. Louis, Missouri
Science and Products
In recent decades, wildfires have increased in size and intensity, and the fire season has lengthened. This and other factors have increased wildfire suppression costs and risks to human health and safety. SEA economists investigate numerous aspects of wildland fire, its impacts, and how to mitigate the risk wildfire poses to people, resources, and property.
Federal policymakers and land managers are accountable to the public for how they use public resources and for the outcomes of policy and management decisions. Through a variety of economic analyses and custom modeling, SEA economists evaluate how investments and management decisions affect individuals, local communities, and society as a whole.
The mission of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Sustaining Environmental Capital Initiative (SECI) is to develop and enhance science and research on ecosystem services in support of improving natural resource management. This effort is in response to the fourth recommendation of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) report: "Federal agencies with responsibilities...
Improving confidence by embracing uncertainty: A meta-analysis of U.S. hunting values for benefit transfer
Recreational hunting in the United States has traditional and cultural importance, and generates substantial economic benefits to individual hunters themselves. This paper conducts a meta-analysis of existing nonmarket valuation estimates for hunting in the United States to explore sources and implications of variation and uncertainty in these...Huber, Christopher; Meldrum, James R.; Richardson, Leslie
Wildland–urban interface residents’ relationships with wildfire: Variation within and across communities
Social science offers rich descriptions of relationships between wildland–urban interface residents and wildfire, but syntheses across different contexts might gloss over important differences. We investigate the potential extent of such differences using data collected consistently in sixty-eight Colorado communities and hierarchical modeling. We...Meldrum, James R.; Brenkert-Smith, Hannah; Champ, Patricia A.; Falk, Lilia C.; Wilson, Pamela; Barth, Christopher M.
Visitor spending effects: assessing and showcasing America's investment in national parks
This paper provides an overview of the evolution, future, and global applicability of the U.S. National Park Service's (NPS) visitor spending effects framework and discusses the methods used to effectively communicate the economic return on investment in America's national parks. The 417 parks represent many of America's most iconic destinations:...Koontz, Lynne; Cullinane Thomas, Catherine; Ziesler, Pamela; Olson, Jeffrey; Meldrum, Bret
Where you stand depends on where you sit: Qualitative inquiry into notions of fire adaptation
Wildfire and the threat it poses to society represents an example of the complex, dynamic relationship between social and ecological systems. Increasingly, wildfire adaptation is posited as a pathway to shift the approach to fire from a suppression paradigm that seeks to control fire to a paradigm that focuses on “living with” and “adapting to”...Brenkert-Smith, Hannah; Meldrum, James R.; Champ, Patricia A.; Barth, Christopher M.
Social and Economic Analysis Branch: integrating policy, social, economic, and natural science
The Fort Collins Science Center's Social and Economic Analysis Branch provides unique capabilities in the U.S. Geological Survey by leading projects that integrate social, behavioral, economic, and natural science in the context of human–natural resource interactions. Our research provides scientific understanding and support for the...Schuster, Rudy; Walters, Katie D.