Nonindustrial Private Forestland Owners Consider Fuel Conditions and Past Wildfire Occurrence in Their Risk Mitigation Decisions
Policymakers seek ways to encourage fuel reduction among private forest landowners to augment similar efforts on federal and state lands. Because private forest lands influence the connectivity of hazardous fuel and potential movement of fire across the landscape, these lands offer significant potential for reducing wildfire risk if managed accordingly. Motivating landowners to contribute to landscape-level wildfire protection requires an understanding of factors that underlie landowner behavior regarding wildfire. Theories about why people take actions to avert risk posit that people may be motivated by accurate knowledge of the probability of an undesirable event and the magnitude of its consequence; past experiences; biases that inflate or deflate perceived risks; and social interactions with friends, peers, professionals and media. Researchers examined the relative roles of these different factors in influencing wildfire risk perceptions and mitigation behavior among private nonindustrial forestland owners in central Oregon. The conceptual framework formed the basis for further investigation of homeowners' "defensible space" activities in fire-prone forests as part of a National Science Foundation-funded Forests, People, Fire study of wildfire management in central Oregon. The study resulted in the development of a landscape simulation model that the national forests in the region plan to use as input in their upcoming forest planning processes.
Forest Service Partners