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Individual Highlight

What Motivates Homeowners To Mitigate Fire Risk

Photo of Defensible Space in Idaho. Sarah McCaffrey, Forest ServiceDefensible Space in Idaho. Sarah McCaffrey, Forest ServiceSnapshot : In working to foster fire-adapted communities, individuals and organization need to understand the dynamics of public support for fuels management on private and public land. A Forest Service research study on homeowner support for defensible space, thinning, and prescribed fire found that that most homeowners are supportive. They appreciated, understood, and supported the need for both individual and agency action to mitigate the fire risk, a more positive picture of public response to the wildfire problem than is often assumed.

Principal Investigators(s) :
McCaffrey, Sarah M. 
Research Location : Oregon, Idaho and Utah
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2011
Highlight ID : 331


Scientists from the Forest Service and university partners interviewed 198 homeowners in six communities in Oregon, Idaho, and Utah about mitigating fire risk. Overall, they found a body of individuals who understood the fire risk and were taking numerous mitigation actions, thought the actions had reduced their risk, intended to maintain their work, and believed that it was their personal responsibility to take care of their own property. The main expectation of most homeowners was that government agencies take care of government land, provide information to homeowners about what they could do, and, in some cases, assist with vegetation disposal. Where federal lands bordered communities (Utah and Oregon) the level of support for fuels management on adjacent public lands was high (83% found thinning acceptable and 62% found prescribed fire around neighborhoods acceptable). This research demonstrates that understanding and support for wildfire mitigation on both private and public property is higher than is often assumed and highlights the importance of agency outreach activities.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Bruce Shindler, Oregon State University
  • Eric Toman, Ohio State University

Program Areas