USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Research Station
Pacific Southwest
Research Station

800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710-0011
(510) 883-8830
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Research Topics

Recreation: Social Aspects of Fire

Recreation and Fire: A Study of Year-Round and Seasonal Homeowners

A management report on a study of fire attitudes of seasonal and year-round homeowners is now available. The report was completed by Drs. Christine Vogt and Charles Nelson (Michigan State University). In an effort to better understand public attitudes about fire, a study was conducted via a mailed survey of residents within and proximate to the San Bernardino (California), the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, Gunnison (Colorado), and the Apalachicola National Forests (Florida). Year-round and seasonal homeowners, and special use permittees holding cabins on FS land participated.

The majority of respondents had observed effects of wildland fires on forests, and had personally witnessed a wildfire. More than half of all homeowners, with the exception of special use cabin permittees in Colorado, were very concerned about wildfires in their state. A similar level of concern was found for wildfires resulting in losses of home or lives.

Respondents from California were more likely to have implemented firewise characteristics on their homesites than were respondents from Colorado or Florida. Most respondents from California also had local or federal requirements for vegetation removal. Such requirements were rare among the other states' respondents.

Prescribed burns, mechanical fuel reduction, and defensible space were rated for general attitude and support or opposition as fuel management strategies. Florida respondents were most supportive of prescribed fire. Respondents from California were almost evenly divided in support, neutrality, and opposition of prescribed burns.

Hundreds of respondents provided open-ended comments. The majority of comments from California were negatively focused on prescribed fire escapes. Skepticism over the benefits of firewise practices were also common. In Colorado, the majority of comments were also focused on escape of prescribed fire. In contrast, the most common comment from Florida was support for prescribed fire.

While the management alternatives examined in this survey were limited, each was included in the President's Healthy Forest Initiative, and in the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003.

Realtors, local officials, teachers, developers, builders, landscape contractors, demonstration sites, and the insurance industry all have important and often complementary roles in public education about wildfire and firewise behavior.

Publications and Products related to this subject:

Vogt, C.; Nelson, C. 2004. Recreation and fire in the wildland-urban interface: A study of year-round and seasonal homeowners in residential areas nearby three National Forests - San Bernardino National Forest, California; Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre ad Gunnison, Colorado; and Apalachicola National Forest, Florida. Unpublished report. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University. 15 p.

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Last Modified: Aug 29, 2016 11:04:26 AM