5th Symposium on Fire and Forest Meteorology and the 2nd International Wildland Fire Ecology and Fire Management Congress

Monday, 17 November 2003: 2:30 PM
Situational influences of acceptable wildland fire management actions
Katie C. Kneeshaw, USDA Forest Service, Missoula, MT; and J. J. Vaske, A. D. Bright, and J. D. Absher
This paper examines how acceptance of wildland fire management actions is affected by fire-specific situational factors. Respondents’ evaluated the acceptability of “immediately extinguishing a fire,” “letting the fire burn in a contained area,” or “letting the fire burn uncontrolled” for eight scenarios (fractional factorial design). The scenarios varied five factors: 1) fire origin (lightning vs. human-caused), 2) impact on air quality (not affected vs. poor air quality), 3) risk of private property damage (low vs. high), 4) forest recovery (quick vs. many years), and 5) impact on outdoor recreation (remain open vs. closed for the season). The data were obtained from a mail survey of visitors to three national forests: 1) Arapaho-Roosevelt, Colorado (n=469), 2) Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie, Washington (n=498), and 3) San Bernardino, California (n=321). Conjoint analysis was used to measure the importance of each situational factor. This analysis indicated that varying levels of the five factors (e.g., a fire started by humans or lightning) differentially affected acceptability ratings of the three fire management actions. Similar importance ratings were attributed to four of the five factors for decisions regarding “put the fire out” and “contain the fire.” There was more dispersion in factor importance ratings for “letting the fire burn.” Impact on outdoor recreation was rated least important for all management actions. The paper concludes with a discussion of implications for better understanding fire management policies and options.

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