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Geographic Variation in Social Acceptability of Wildland Fuels Management in the Western United States

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Contemporary natural resource management requires consideration of the social acceptability of management practices and conditions. Agencies wishing to measure, respond to, and influence social acceptability must understand the nuances of public perception regarding controversial issues. This study explores social acceptability judgments about one such issue: reduction of wildland fuel hazards on federal lands in the western United States. Citizens were surveyed in four locations where fire has been a significant ecological disturbance agent and public land agencies propose to reduce wildland fuel levels and wildfire hazards via prescribed burning, thinning, brush removal, and/or livestock grazing. Respondents in different locations differed in their knowledge about fire and fuel issues as well in their acceptability judgments. Differences are associated with location-specific social and environmental factors as well as individual beliefs. Results argue against using “one-size-fits-all” policies or information strategies about fuels management.

Keywords: attitudes; fire; forests; knowledge; rangelands; social acceptability; wildland fuels

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Environment and Society, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, USA 2: Department of Forest Resources, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, USA

Publication date: September 1, 2004

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