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Institute of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism

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University of Colorado Boulder Natural Hazards Center


This research used Protection Motivation Theory to examine if and how individuals who experience a near-miss wildfire event (i.e., a recent, proximal wildfire that did not harm these individuals or their properties) intend to protect themselves against future risks. We administered a drop-off pick-up survey to residents living in Durango, Colorado, a community heavily impacted by the 416 fire in the spring and summer of 2018. The survey, completed by 195 residents, solicited information about wildfire mitigation behaviors taken before and after the 416 fire. Data were also collected on four of the dimensions of Protection Motivation Theory which may influence individuals’ willingness to mitigate future wildfire risks. Response efficacy was a significant predictor of four pre-416 and two post-fire mitigation actions, and self efficacy was a significant predictor of two post-416 mitigation actions. Further, significant differences exist for all pre-416 and post-416 mitigation actions which shows the impact that the fire had on respondent intentions to mitigate for future wildfire risks. This research contributed to the broader literature by identifying how perceptions and mitigation behaviors change after experiencing a near-miss wildfire event, and to local wildfire management efforts by providing insights into specific mitigation actions to incentivize through local assistance programs.



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