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Title: Wildland fire risk and social vulnerability in the Southeastern United States: An exploratory spatial data analysis approach

Author: Johnson Gaither, Cassandra; Poudyal, N.C.; Goodrick, S.; Bowker, J.M.; Malone, S.; Gan, J.;

Date: 2011

Source: Forest Policy and Economics

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: The southeastern U.S. is one of the more wildland fire prone areas of the country and also contains some of the poorest or most socially vulnerable rural communities. Our project addresses wildland fire risk in this part of the U.S and its intersection with social vulnerability. We examine spatial association between high wildland fire prone areas which also rank high in social vulnerability (“hot spots”) for Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina. We also look at the proximity of hot spots to wildland fire mitigation programs. We hypothesize that hot spots are less likely than high wildland fire risk/low social vulnerability communities to engage with mitigation programs (e.g., Community Wildfire Protection Plans or Firewise Communities). To assess our hypothesis, we examined mean distances between: 1) hot spots and mitigation programs and 2) high wildland fire risk/low social vulnerability communities and mitigation programs. Overall, results show longer mean distances from hot spots to mitigation programs, compared to distances for high wildland fire risk/low social vulnerability communities. This finding provides support for our hypothesis and suggests that poorer communities in the southeast with high wildland fire risk may be at a greater disadvantage than more affluent, high fire risk communities in these states.

Keywords: Social vulnerability, Wildland fire, Environmental risk, Wildland fire mitigation

Publication Notes:

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  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.

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Johnson Gaither, Cassandra; Poudyal, N.C.; Goodrick, S.; Bowker, J.M.; Malone, S.; Gan, J. 2011. Wildland fire risk and social vulnerability in the Southeastern United States: An exploratory spatial data analysis approach. Forest Policy and Economics. 13:24–36.

 


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