Goals, obstacles and effective strategies of wildfire mitigation programs in the Wildland-Urban Interface
The dramatic expansion into the Wildland–Urban Interface (WUI) places property, natural assets, and human life at risk from wildfire destruction. The U.S. National Fire Plan encourages communities to implement laws and outreach programs for pre-fire planning to mitigate the risk to area residents. Starting in 2003, we surveyed the administrators of regulatory and voluntary wildfire risk reduction programs in 25 U.S. states. These state and local programs are listed on the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service’s National Wildfire Programs Database website, www.wildfireprograms.usda.gov, and are concerned with vegetation management on private lands. Analyses of the administrators’ responses suggest several new insights about these risk mitigation efforts, including 1) how they are organized, 2) what they are trying to accomplish, 3) what are the obstacles, and 4) how well they may be working. In our study we describe the goals and objectives of these programs as well as the obstacles confronting managers. Further, we explore trends in these programs including participation in collaborative planning and use of program evaluation to measure progress toward goals. Additionally, we explore the program managers’ perceptions of what are their most effective programs for creating defensible space.