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How Can We Span the Boundaries between Wildland Fire Science and Management in the United States?

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In 2009, the federal Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP) initiated a national network of boundary organizations, known as regional fire science consortia, to accelerate the awareness, understanding, and use of wildland fire science. Needs assessments conducted by consortia in eight regions of the United States are synthesized here using a case survey approach. Although regions used different methods based on their different ecosystems, geography, and demography, results showed striking similarities in how fire science is accessed and used, barriers to its use, and research information needed. Use of Internet-based information is universally high; however, in-person knowledge exchange is preferred. Obstacles to fire science application include lack of time, resources, and access to the most relevant information as well as communication barriers between scientists and managers. Findings show a clear need for boundary organizations to span fire science and management to (a) organize and consolidate fire science information through easily accessible websites and (b) strengthen relationships between scientists and managers to facilitate production and communication of science relevant to managers' concerns. This article contributes to boundary spanning theory by underscoring and documenting the advantages of regionally focused boundary organizations in meeting user needs and building bridges between fire scientists and managers.
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Keywords: Joint Fire Science Program; boundary organization; fire management; fire science; technology transfer

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-12-01

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