USDA Forest Service
 

Pacific Southwest Research Station

 

Pacific Southwest Research Station
800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710-0011

(510) 559-6300

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Research Topics

Recreation: Social Aspects of Fire

^ Main Topic | Changing Recreation Patterns | Communication | Social Aspects of Fire | Behaviors and Conflict

Wildland/Urban Interface Within Fireprone Ecosystems

The wildland/urban interface presents many challenges within fireprone ecosystems. One of these ecosystems is the Big Sur region of the Los Padres National Forest, a popular destination due to its scenic beauty and spectacular coastal range environment. Debbie Chavez and Bill Hendricks, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, are cooperatively conducting a study to examine issues related to recreation and fire management at Big Sur. The first study phase took place during summer 2001. Data were collected on randomly selected days and at eight randomly selected day-use and overnight recreation sites. Four hundred ninety-eight visitors completed the on-site questionnaire.

Respondents were mostly Californians (78.5%), white (80%), with some college education (85%). Reported household income was above $55,000 (55%), with some above $75,000 (38%). Activities during their trip to Big Sur were camping, hiking, walking for pleasure, beach combing, picnicking, wild/marinelife viewing and sightseeing. The top three primary activities were camping, surfing, and sightseeing.

Recreation constraints were measured with a 4-point scale. The highest mean scores for recreation constraints due to fire management were: no fires in pits/grills, decreased air quality, traffic delays due to fire suppression, decreased visibility due to smoke from a fire, and developed campground closure due to a fire.

How often fire management practices were observed and their influence on quality of visit was examined with a 5-point scale. The highest rated observed fire management practices were fire works prohibition, evidence of a wildland fire, prescribed fire evidence, and fire restrictions when backpacking. Fire practices that most influenced visit quality were: large bonfires, no fires in pits/grills, and evidence of campfires in non-designated areas.

Place attachment was measured with an 11-item scale. A t-test was conducted to determine if place attachment varied by subjects who had visited Big Sur previously and those who had not. There was a significant difference for all 11 items. Overall mean scores were above 3.5 on a 5-point scale for 7 of the items.

The results suggest that Big Sur visitors are rather homogenous, very educated, report high household incomes, and are attached to Big Sur. They do not seem to be overly concerned with fire management, although they do report some recreation constraints that may deserve attention by managers.

For additional information about this study please contact Debbie Chavez at 951-680-1558 or Employee E-mail Address Image.

Publications and Products related to this subject:

Chavez, D.; Hendricks, W. 2003. Fire & recreation research on a fire-prone ecosystem: The Big Sur region. Unpublished report. Riverside, CA: Pacific Southwest Research Station, Forest Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture. 16 p.

Chavez, D.; Hendricks, W. 2003. Fire & recreation research on a fire-prone ecosystem: The Big Sur region, report on 2002 data. Unpublished report. Riverside, CA: Pacific Southwest Research Station, Forest Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture. 14 p.

Hendricks, W.; Chavez, D., Phippen, K. 2003. Observance-influence of fire management and place attachment at Big Sur. In Jakes, P.J. (comp). Homeowners, communities, and wildfire: Science findings from the National Fire Plan: Proceedings of the Ninth International Symposium on Society and Resource Management; 2002 June 2-5; Bloomington, IN. General Technical Report NC-231. St. Paul, MN: North Central Research Station, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture: p. 45-54.

Research conducted by:
Last Modified: Mar 28, 2013 03:34:00 PM