Monday, August 3, 2015

Study Highlights Perception and Understanding about Wildland Fire

Sleepy Hollow Fire, Washington, June 2015. Photo: Don Seabrook
As fire management agencies seek to implement more flexible fire management strategies, local understanding and support for these strategies become increasingly important. 

One issue associated with implementing more flexible fire management strategies is educating local populations about fire management and identifying what local populations know or do not know related to fire management. 

National policies continue to place a priority on more locally based efforts to address the wildfire problem in the West. As fire management shifts toward increasing local resilience through community-based efforts, studies have focused on gaining insight into what factors increase acceptance and understanding of various fire management strategies.  Ultimately, these policy shifts call for a new relationship between residents and land/fire managers. This new envisioned relationship is one of shared responsibility and collaboration between land agencies and communities to mitigate and manage wildfire risk.

Community-based efforts such as Firewise and Fire Adapted Communities programs depend on residents to take an active role in efforts to address wildfire risk. These programs rely on local community members to conduct risk assessments based on ecological characteristics and fire history to create mitigation plans. They also encourage resident support of land management agencies by providing education about wildfire risk reduction efforts, such as using prescribed fire to manage local landscapes. 

This study used survey data from three 2010 wildland fires to understand how ecological knowledge and education level affected fire management perception and understanding.  Read the full paper here

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