US Forest Service Research & Development
Contact Information
  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Sarah McCaffrey

Sarah M. McCaffrey

Research Forester
240 West Prospect Road
Fort Collins
United States

Phone: 970-498-2507
Contact Sarah M. McCaffrey

Current Research

I conduct and coordinate research to better understand the social dynamics of fire management. I am currently responsible for a National Fire Plan grant examining social acceptability of fuels treatment methods. We have initiated almost two dozen studies in a variety of ecological and geographical settings across the country, examining a range of topics including what shapes acceptability of prescribed fire and thinning, why people do or do not implement defensible space practices, and social issues around post-fire restoration. I also am part of the Fuels Planning synthesis project, a national effort to synthesize current scientific knowledge on fuels treatments from both the ecological and social perspectives and provide it to managers in accessible format.

Research Interests

I plan on continuing to explore issues around the social dynamics of fire management. Areas where I am exploring possible research projects include biomass utilization, effectiveness of initiatives to foster management across boundaries such as The Nature Conservancy's Fire Learning Network, and issues related to institutional knowledge and organizational effectiveness. I also hope to develop collaborative research with scientists in other countries with wildfire issues.

Why This Research is Important

Social dynamics are a key part of fire management. No matter how ecologically and technically sound and well planned a treatment, its ultimate implementation will be highly dependant on public acceptance of the efforts. As more people move into high fire hazard areas, their active involvement in fire management will be central to successful efforts to reduce the hazard. As such, understanding their relevant beliefs and expectations, of the landscape and of land management agencies, will be crucial information for managers in developing effective plans to mitigate the fire hazard. My research helps clarify the reality behind much of the conventional wisdom about public beliefs actions in relation to fire and fuels management and what shapes those beliefs and actions. Having a clear and accurate conception of public's views can help ensure that managers' limited resources are directed in the most effective manner.


  • University Of California--Berkeley, Ph.D. Wildland Resource Science 2002
  • University Of California--Berkeley, M.S. Wildland Resource Science 1995
  • Stanford University, B.A. International Relations 1986

Professional Organizations

  • Society of American Foresters
  • International Association of Wildland Fire
  • Society and Natural Resources


Research Highlights


Identifying Policy Tools That Encourage Community-Level Defensible Space in Six U.S. Communities

A Forest Service scientist and partners assessed outreach programs in six different communities and identified outreach tools that were effectiv ...


Impediments to Woody Biomass Utilization on Federal Lands

Efforts to increase woody biomass utilization have met with limited succes


Improving Knowledge of Public Information Needs During a Wildfire

Although fire managers actively work to provide information to the public during wildfires, little research has been conducted to understand whe ...


Psychological Impacts of Experiencing a Wildfire

New research by Forest Service scientists is examining how wildfire impacts to the landscape affect the post-fire psychological health of people ...


Using Tweets to Model Wildfire Smoke

Forest Service scientists and their partners found that crowdsourced data collected from Twitter can be used to accurately predict air quality i ...


What Motivates Homeowners To Mitigate Fire Risk

In working to foster fire-adapted communities, individuals and organization need to understand the dynamics of public support for fuels manageme ...


Last updated on : 07/18/2018