Evaluating Public Responses to Wildland Fuels Management: Factors that Influence Acceptance of Practices and Decisions

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This study is designed to evaluate the public's understanding and acceptance of different wildland fuel treatments in federal forest and rangeland settings. Specifically, its purpose is to 1) identify the factors that influenee the acceptability of fuels reduction strategies and decision processes, 2) examine citizens' understanding of and preferences for necessary tradeoffs among management alternatives, and 3) measure public confidence in resource agencies for effective implementation of these practices. A central component of the study is inclusion of Joint Fire Science Program partners in fine-tuning the research design and interpreting our findings in the context of state-of-the-art fuels management programs for particular regions of the U.S. The research design will employ a three-tier sampling methodology to fully address the national significance of wildland fuels and examine the regional strategies implemented (or proposed) by JFSP cooperators. This project incorporates a) a national study to assess the knowledge, information needs, attitudes, and preferences among the general population, b) a network of six regional studies with more affected publics to measure preferences for and the effectiveness of fuels reduction programs, evaluate forms of information exchange including which delivery systems are most useful, and assess citizen-agency interactions for reaching supportable decisions, and c) a series of panel studies in which subsets of the regional samples are exposed to outreach activities (e.g site visits, video messages) where they examine localized practices and conditions and complete a survey about their observations. This final research protocol will utilize a pre-test, post-test design to measure the influence of a treatment on people's judgments. Collectively, these studies will also focus on the relevance of different sociodemographic characteristics (e.g. urban/rural reside, group membership, level of activism, education, economic livelihood, knowledge of management practices) in the formation of citizens' attitudes and their participation in decision processes.


JFSP Project 99-1-2-08