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Making the decision to mitigate risk

Martin, Ingrid M.; Bender, Holly Wise; Raish, Carol. 2007. Making the decision to mitigate risk. In: Martin, Wade E.; Raish, Carol; Kent, Brian, editors. Wildfire risk: Human perceptions and management implications. Washington, DC: Resources for the Future: 117-141.

Why individuals choose to mitigate, downplay, or ignore risk has been a topic of much research over the past 25 years for natural- and human-created risks, such as earthquakes, flooding, smoking, contraceptive use, and alcohol consumption. Wildfire has been a relatively recent focus in the natural hazard literature, perhaps a result of several years of catastrophic fires in the western United States. The desire of many to live in areas that provide wildland amenities has led to significant population migration into rural, forested areas of the West, exacerbating the risks of large-scale, catastrophic wildfires. This migration has resulted in more people living in the wildland-urban interface(WUI), which has created many unique problems for homeowners as well as land managers. To mitigate or reduce the risks of wildfires to communities and homeowners in the WUI requires action across the landscape, which includes treating both public and private lands. Significant research has demonstrated that on private property, a home's exterior materials and its immediate surroundings principally determine the home's ignition potential during extreme wildfire events; additionally, the area that determines the home ignition zone during extreme wildfires occurs largely on private lands (Cohen 2004). Yet many homeowners do not undertake mitigating actions to protect their homes and potentially their lives from the risks of wildfire.

Keywords: wildfire risk, wildland-urban interface(WUI)

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Title: RMRS Other Publications: Making the decision to mitigate risk
Electronic Publish Date: November 18, 2009
Last Update:
November 18, 2009

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