Black Belt landowners respond to State-sponsored wildland fire mitigation policies and programs
This investigation focused on nonindustrial private forest (NIPF) landowners in selected counties across five States in the Southeastern United States (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina). These counties are located in the Southern Black Belt region, which has higher than average percentages of African-American residents and higher poverty rates than the United States as a whole. We assessed African-American and White private landowner awareness and responsiveness to State-sponsored wildland fire mitigation policies and programs. Other indicators of environmental awareness and engagement suggest that African-Americans rank lower than Whites on these measures in the South. We extend this research with a focus on awareness and responsiveness to wildland fire mitigation programming. African-American landowners were more likely to be aware than White landowners of wildland fire mitigation programs, but less likely than Whites to use such information and less likely to engage in various other actions to reduce wildland fire threats to their property. In terms of constraints, African Americans who did not request mitigation information were more likely than Whites to say they did not do so because they did not know the information was available. However, African Americans were less likely to say lack of trust prevented them from requesting information. Overall, findings did not suggest that Black Belt African- American landowners were disadvantaged with respect to either information awareness or acquisition; but results should be taken with caution given that nonrandom sampling was used for some data collection with the African-American sample.