Wildfire Risk Reduction: Homeowners and Decision-Making in the Wildland Urban Interface

EPA Grant Number: F5B30517
Title: Wildfire Risk Reduction: Homeowners and Decision-Making in the Wildland Urban Interface
Investigators: Brenkert, Hannah
Institution: University of Colorado at Boulder
EPA Project Officer: Zambrana, Jose
Project Period: September 1, 2005 through April 1, 2008
Project Amount: $111,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2005) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships


The primary goal of this research is to develop a better understanding of the decision-making processes of homeowners in wildfire prone areas regarding the adoption of wildfire mitigation strategies. To date, social scientific examination of wildfire has primarily focused on exploring public acceptance of forest management approaches, including the use of controlled (or prescribed) burns on public lands. Public land management, however, is only one aspect of fire management in the wildland-urban interface (WUI). This ‘interface’ is growing in size and density and wildfire research lacks a systematic understanding of the relationship between wildfire risk and the decisions homeowners make regarding risk reduction strategies on their land.

This research will focus on two categories of factors that may play a role in homeowners’ willingness to adopt wildfire mitigation strategies. First, I will explore social factors, such as community attachment and social ties, often associated with the adoption of natural hazard risk reduction strategies. Second, I will explore the environmental dimensions of social factors, including attachment to, and meanings associated with, biophysical conditions such forest conditions and landscape that may shape the willingness of homeowners to adopt risk reduction strategies.


Research objectives will be pursued through the use of quantitative and qualitative methods. Survey data from a representative sample of residents in the wildland-urban interface of the Front Range of three Colorado counties will provide baseline data regarding type and frequency of wildfire mitigation practices. In-depth interviews with residents in the same areas will be used to explore the ways in which community attachment and place attachment shape wildfire mitigation decisions.

Expected Results:

This research will provide insight into the applicability of social science findings regarding mitigation in the natural hazards literature to household mitigation decisions in wildfire prone contexts. It will also explore the ways in which social relationships and the relationships homeowners have with their homes, properties, and landscapes play a role in the complex decision-making processes seeking to balance risk reduction with the maintenance of preferred meaningful aesthetic landscapes.

Supplemental Keywords:

Natural hazards, environmental decision-making, risk management and response, mitigation, wildfire, wildland-urban interface, American west, forest management, place attachment, community attachment,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Economic, Social, & Behavioral Science Research Program, POLLUTION PREVENTION, sustainable development, Ecological Risk Assessment, Ecology and Ecosystems, decision-making, Economics & Decision Making, Social Science, collaborative decision making, prescribed burns, community involvement, anthropogenic effects, decision analysis, decision making, environmental decision making, community based environmental planning, forest reources, wildfire risk reduction, household choice, environmental risk assessment

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2006
  • 2007
  • Final