Public Perspectives of Fire Management
Fire & Economics
Fire & Wilderness
Wildland Urban Interface
On the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana, U.S., the Mission Mountains Tribal Wilderness is bordered by a buffer zone. To successfully improve forest health within that buffer zone and restore fire in the wilderness, the managing agency and the public need to work together to find solutions to increasingly threatening fuel buildups. A combination of qualitative, culturally sensitive research and a web-based mapping exercise have been used to develop understanding of the tradeoffs Reservation residents describe in relation to potential buffer zone actions. The primary meanings Tribal members associate with the Buffer Zone are protection of the wilderness, wildlife and water quality, access and functional attachments, recreation and scenic values, and personal and cultural meanings. To build trust among both tribal and non-tribal residents, fire planners must understand how proposed actions interact with values at risk assigned by the local community and describe a prioritization process that addresses publicly perceived threats.