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

Wednesday, 19 November 2003: 2:00 PM
Common Factors Affecting the Social Acceptance of Fuel Management Techniques
Greg Winter, Paul Schissler Associates, Bellingham, WA; and C. Vogt and J. Fried
Fuel management has the best chance of success if managers understand the factors that influence public acceptance of fuel management sufficiently to make more informed choices about the kind of management to propose and provide effective responses to the questions, objections, and concerns of wildland-urban interface (WUI) residents. This study assessed public acceptance and attitude toward three commonly employed fuel management approaches: prescribed burning, mechanical treatment, and enactment and enforcement of defensible space ordinances. Focus groups and self-administered mail surveys to 2,154 homeowners at sites in California, Florida and Michigan were used to (1) identify the issues related to fire management generally, and fuel management specifically, which are salient to residents of fire-prone WUI areas, and (2) develop and test a multivariate model of the processes by which individuals evaluate the acceptability of a fuel management policy. Despite substantial variation among sites in terms of fire history, fire regime, land uses and ownership, and socioeconomic characteristics, several acceptance factors emerged which were common across survey sites and fuel management approaches. Support for any fuel management approach depends on its personal importance to the WUI resident, its perceived cost-effectiveness and the residentís beliefs about particular outcomes of its implementation. Support also depends on depth of trust in land management agencies responsible for implementation.

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