Community Perceptions of Wildfire and Controlled Burning
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Community backlash following the western North Carolina wildfires in 2016 revealed patterns of miscommunication and distrust regarding forest management practices. To improve messaging in fire-impacted communities, a pilot survey study was conducted in Morganton, NC. The study explored community perceptions of wildfire and controlled burning threats, the variables that might explain them, and whether perceptions of controlled burning can be affected by messaging. Results show that survey respondents perceived fire to be beneficial for North Carolina forests. Survey respondents generally perceived wildfire to be an overall threat while they generally did not perceive controlled burning to be an overall threat. Political alignment, perceived wildfire risk to personal residence within ten years, and belief that wildfire is a natural part of the ecosystem were found to be statistically significant predictors of wildfire threat perceptions. Political alignment, years lived in Morganton, and the belief that wildfire is a natural part of the ecosystem were found to be statistically significant predictors of controlled burning threat perceptions. Perceptions of controlled burning may also be changed due to effective and targeted messaging.
Gaasch, Kathryn (2018). Community Perceptions of Wildfire and Controlled Burning. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/16579.
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