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Changing Forest Disturbance Regimes and Risk Perceptions in Homer, Alaska

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Forest disturbances caused by insects can lead to other disturbances, risks, and changes across landscapes. Evaluating the human dimensions of such disturbances furthers understanding of integrated changes in natural and social systems. This article examines the effects of changing forest disturbance regimes on local risk perceptions and attitudes in Homer, Alaska. Homer experienced a spruce bark beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis) outbreak with large-scale tree mortality and a 5,000-acre fire in 2005. Qualitative interviews and quantitative analysis of mail surveys are used to examine community risk perception and relationships with land managers pre- and post-fire. Results show a decrease in the saliency of the spruce bark beetle as a community issue, a coalescence of community risk perceptions about fire, and conflicting findings about satisfaction with land managers and its relationship with risk perception.
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Keywords: Alaska; forest disturbance; relationship with land managers; risk perception; spruce bark beetles

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-12-01

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