Title page for ETD etd-07112008-090700


Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Geaghan, Kimberly Ann
Author's Email Address kgeagha@lsu.edu
URN etd-07112008-090700
Title Influences on Effective Local Wildfire Mitigation Programs
Degree Master of Science (M.S.)
Department Environmental Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Margaret A. Reams Committee Chair
Kevin S. McCarter Committee Member
Maud M. Walsh Committee Member
Michael W. Wascom Committee Member
Keywords
  • National Fire Plan
  • wildfire risk mitigation
  • wildfire policy
  • social-ecological resilience
Date of Defense 2008-06-23
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
The purpose of this research is to identify key components of community wildfire risk reduction programs and potential influences on the adoption of these program elements. Community wildfire programs have been developed to educate and encourage property owners to adopt “vegetation management” practices such as creating defensible space around structures, landscaping with fire-resistant plants, and removing potential wildfire fuels such as trees and shrubs. The analyses are based on a survey conducted by investigators from Louisiana State University in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service. This survey was distributed to wildfire mitigation program managers listed on the National Wildfire Programs Database website. A Principal Component Analysis (PCA) was conducted on the data returned from this sixty-nine-item survey. A range of socioeconomic variables was gathered from the 2000 Census Bureau and was used along with a fire history variable created from data extracted from the survey to examine the extent to which the variables are associated with program development.

Five factors were identified from the PCA as being indicators of key components of risk-reduction programs. Local programs with these elements are assumed to have a greater capacity for effectively reducing or mitigating wildfire risks to communities within the wildland-urban interface (WUI). The factors are more local regulations and codes, larger numbers of public education, vegetation disposal, risk assessment activities and fewer reported problems with program funding. These factors were regressed with demographic variables selected for each survey respondent’s geographic area. Several different demographic variables were found to be significantly associated with the selected factors. These are population density, property value, wealth, percent of homeownership, percent of population with a college degree, and population change. Formulation and implementation of these desirable program components were found to be associated with slower growing, less densely populated communities, and those with wealthier and better educated residents.

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