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US Forest Service Research & Development
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  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Miranda H. Mockrin

Research Scientist
5523 Research Park Drive Suite 350
Baltimore
Maryland
United States
21228-4783

Phone: 443-543-5389
Contact Miranda H. Mockrin


Current Research

Wildland-urban interface (WUI) growth and policy interventions
Over the past 40 years, sprawling housing development has dramatically expanded the WUI, impacting biodiversity, native vegetation, and wildfire management. The 2010 WUI data are now published in an NRS R-Map; we will soon complete analysis of WUI change over three decades (1990-2010). I also examine alternatives to sprawl, such as conservation developments (i.e., clustered housing developments) that incorporate open space). While conservations developments contributed significantly to private land conservation in CO, their location near protected areas raised questions about their overall environmental impacts. Documenting growth management policies in areas with high WUI growth we find a variety of such policies and regulations in place, yet fewest in counties at the fringe of metropolitan areas where WUI growth is most rapid.

Adaptation, resilience, and vulnerability to hazards
National fire policy now calls for WUI communities to become “fire-adapted” so they coexist with wildfire, but does recovery after destructive wildfire lead to adaptation? Do people rebuild? Do they adapt to fire—change locations, materials, vegetation mitigation in meaningful ways? Examining fires that claimed homes (2000-2005, nationally) revealed that 25% of homes were rebuilt, but that new construction outpaced rebuilding, resulting in more buildings within fire perimeters 5 years after wildfire than before fire. My study of Colorado’s Front Range post-fire revealed that local regulations requiring fire-resistant materials and landscaping resulted in modest progress toward adaptation. I currently lead a JFSP project to examine rebuilding nationally, and find communities have made limited changes in local regulations post-fire with no evidence of changes in land use planning. Instead, communities are adapting through increased outreach, suppression, and voluntary programs.

Demographic change and resource management
Overall growth of the U.S. population has slowed since the 1950s, but its composition (race, ethnicity, age) and distribution (across regions, across urban to rural areas) continues to change due to many factors including amenity and retirement migration. I work with demographers and RPA scientists to summarize changes in population composition and distribution explore their implications for natural resource management. Using census data, we developed a wildfire-specific social vulnerability index. Spatial analysis indicates where social vulnerability overlaps with fire and other hazards. We plan to use prescribed-fire smoke projections to identify smoke-related health risks for sensitive populations (e.g., elderly, young, minority).

Research Interests

I am a research scientist who studies conservation and land use, combining ecological and social science. Current research at the Northern Research Station focuses on understanding changing natural resource use and management with shifting human demographics, including examining mapping the growth of the wildland-urban interface (WUI) over time, examining rebuilding in the WUI after wildfire, studying housing development and its ecological and social effects, exploring alternative forms of development such as conservation development, and studying changing patterns of wildlife-based recreation (hunting and viewing). Research during my graduate career examined the linked ecological and social dynamics of subsistence wildlife harvesting in a Central African logging concession.

Past Research

1. Changes in wildlife-associated recreation participation (hunting and viewing) over time. 2. Analysis of housing growth in New England using census data to elucidate trends in the spatial and temporal development of residential housing, in and around the Northern Forest, from 1940-2000. 3. Doctoral research examined the spatial distribution and sustainability of hunting outside a protected area in Congo-Brazzaville

Why This Research is Important

Our communities have experienced substantial demographic, social, and economic transformations over the past 30 years. Suburban and exurban areas are become larger and more diverse, as residential development continues and population deconcentrates. Documenting these trends and understanding the factors that underlie them is essential to finding new ways of mitigating the impacts on natural resources. These changes will only intensify in the 21st Century: Americans are rapidly diversifying, sprawl is increasing, and climate change will increase disturbance from natural hazards (hurricanes, flooding, wildfire). 

Education

  • Tufts University, B.S. Biopsychology 1999
  • Columbia University, M.A. Ecology
  • Columbia University, Ph.D. Ecology 2008

Featured Publications & Products

Publications

Research Highlights

HighlightTitleYear


RMRS-2013-116
Changing Patterns of Wildlife Hunting and Viewing

These findings help resource specialists explore the potential impacts of declining hunting participation, identify regions and activities that ...

2013


Last updated on : 11/22/2016