Date of Award:

12-2020

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology

Committee Chair(s)

Courtney Flint

Committee

Courtney Flint

Committee

Steve Daniels

Committee

Jennifer Givens

Committee

Richard Krannich

Committee

William Pearse

Committee

Daniel Williams

Abstract

This dissertation presents both quantitative and qualitative analysis on different aspects of wildland fire risk management in the western United States. Each of these chapters is framed by and examines the sociological concept of reflexivity, which describes a process of individual and/or collective reflection. This reflexivity is needed to identify and enact alternative management strategies that contend with the expected increases in the number and severity of wildland fires in the future due to the combined effects of even-aged forest growth after years of timber extraction, a legacy of fire suppression, climate change, and increasing human development in the wildland-urban interface.

The first chapter in this dissertation is a general technical report that outlines theories and methods about the social dynamics of wildland fire risk management. The second chapter is a qualitative analysis of twenty semi-structured interviews conducted with members of a wildland fire management social network in northcentral Washington. In these interviews, participants described both opportunities and barriers to collaboration. The third chapter of this dissertation is a mixed-methods analysis of a proposal to fund restoration of northern Arizona ponderosa pine forests through registered carbon offsets. Results demonstrate potential carbon benefits from restoration but also illuminate administrative, technical, and theoretical barriers to registering these benefits as carbon offsets. And finally, the fourth chapter is an autoethnographic essay.

These findings are important since wildland fire management will need to be even more collaborative in the future due to expected increases in the number and severity of wildland fires, which will also exacerbate the need for increased funding for forest restoration. Moreover, these results speak to the complex and contested nature of human values at risk in these fire-prone landscapes, which will also need to be incorporated into wildland fire risk management in order to achieve better outcomes in the face of an uncertain future.

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