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Exposure Complexity and Community Capacity to Manage Wildfire Risk: A Coupled Biophysical and Social Analysis of 60 Communities in the Western United States

Author(s): Max W. Nielsen-Pincus, Cody Evers, Alan A. Ager
Year Published: 2019

Coordinated approaches to wildfire risk mitigation strategies that cross-ownership and management boundaries are found in many policies and programs worldwide. The 'all lands' approach of the United States (US) National Cohesive Strategy, for example, attempts to address the mismatches between biophysical risk and the social potential to address risks by improving multijurisdictional coordination and collaboration. Local capacity to coordinate wildfire risk mitigation, therefore, may be an important influence on whether risk reduction planning makes success stories out of at-risk communities, or turns what would appear a manageable problem into a disaster waiting to happen. We analyzed the relationship between predicted housing exposure to wildfire and local self-assessment of community competence to mitigate wildfire risks in 60 communities in the western US. Results generally demonstrate that (1) the number of sources of wildfire risk influences local housing exposure to wildfire, and (2) perceived community-competence is associated with predicted exposure to wildfire. We suggest that investments in ongoing updates to community risk planning and efforts to build multi-jurisdictional risk management networks may help to leverage existing capacity, especially in moderate capacity communities. The analysis improves the social-ecological understanding of wildfire risks and highlights potential causal linkages between community capacity and wildfire exposure.

Citation: Nielsen-Pincus, Max W.; Evers, Cody R.; Ager, Alan A. 2019. Exposure complexity and community capacity to manage wildfire risk: a coupled biophysical and social analysis of 60 communities in the western United States. Fire 2(4):59. https://doi.org/10.3390/fire2040059
Topic(s): Fire Behavior, Simulation Modeling, Risk
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 20550
TTRS (Tall Timbers Research Station) Number: 60382
Record updated: Jan 7, 2020