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Interpreting federal policy at the local level: the wildland-urban interface concept in wildfire protection planning in the eastern United States


Grayzeck-Souter, Stephanie A.; Nelson, Kristen C.; Brummel, Rachel F.; Jakes, Pamela; Williams, Daniel R. 2009. Interpreting federal policy at the local level: the wildland-urban interface concept in wildfire protection planning in the eastern United States. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 18: 278-289.

In 2003, the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA) called for USA communities at risk of wildfire to develop Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs) requiring local, state and federal actors to work together to address hazardous fuels reduction and mitigation efforts. CWPPs can provide the opportunity for local government to influence actions on adjacent public land, by establishing local boundaries of the wildland-urban interface (WUI), the area where urban lands meet or intermix with wildlands. The present paper explores local response to the HFRA and CWPPs in the eastern USA, specifically if and how communities are using the policy incentive to identify the WUI. We conducted document reviews of eastern CWPPs, as well as qualitative analysis of in-depth interviews with participants in four case studies. We found tremendous variation in local response to HFRA, with plans completed at multiple scales and using different planning templates. The WUI policy incentive was not used in all CWPPs, suggesting that the incentive is not as useful in the eastern USA, where public land is less dominant and the perceived fire risk is lower than in the West. Even so, many communities in the East completed CWPPs to improve their wildfire preparedness.

Keywords: Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA), Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs), wildland-urban interface (WUI)


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Title: RMRS Other Publications: Interpreting federal policy at the local level: the wildland-urban interface concept in wildfire protection planning in the eastern United States
Electronic Publish Date: June 18, 2009
Last Update:
June 18, 2009

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