Title: Science You Can Use Bulletin: Fire on the mountain: What motivates homeowners to reduce their wildfire risk?
Author: Miller, Sue; Champ, Patty; Brenkert-Smith, Hannah;
Source: Science You Can Use Bulletin, Issue 7. Fort Collins, CO: Rocky Mountain Research Station. 8 p.
Publication Series: Science Bulletins and Newsletters
Description: New home building in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) continues unabated, despite the high financial and human costs of fighting fires in these areas. The goal of this research is to understand, through surveys and expert assessments, the attitudes and perceptions of WUI homeowners as they relate to taking action to reduce wildfire risk on their property. It also addresses whether there is a difference between their perceptions of the wildfire risk on their property and an expert’s assessment. In a two-county survey in Colorado, it was found that the most important sources of information for WUI residents that were related to taking action were “informal social networks” (such as talking with neighbors) and guidance from local fire departments and county wildfire specialists. Higher risk perception and/or previous experience with wildlife was also associated with higher mitigation levels. A major wildfire in the area did little to change homeowners’ overall attitudes towards wildfire, but it did increase their level of concern for their property, landscape, pets, and health. A separate study in Ouray County, Colorado, found that homeowners tended to underestimate their wildfire risk compared to an expert assessment of their property. This research helps to further our understanding of how education and outreach can play a role in moving homeowners to better understand the ongoing risk that wildfire poses in the WUI so they can take appropriate steps to protect themselves and their property.
Keywords: wildland-urban interface, WUI, homeowners, wildfire risk
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Miller, Sue; Champ, Patty; Brenkert-Smith, Hannah. 2013. Fire on the mountain: What motivates homeowners to reduce their wildfire risk? Science You Can Use Bulletin, Issue 7. Fort Collins, CO: Rocky Mountain Research Station. 8 p.
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