Researcher-Practitioner Collaborations for Community Wildfire Risk Reduction in Colorado

Program Contact

Hannah Brenkert-Smith

hannahb@colorado.edu

303.492.5743

As our nation grapples with increasingly devastating wildfires, national wildfire policy asserts the importance of local data in wildfire decision-making. According to the National Cohesive Strategy: “There is no one-size-fits-all solution to reducing wildfire risk. Solutions must be tailored to landscapes and communities.” The Researcher-Practitioner Collaborations for Community Wildfire Risk Reduction project is part of a larger project that uses a rigorous tool set and strong partnerships to understand the contexts and needs of individual communities and to apply this knowledge to improve programs and change local conversations about wildfire policy.

The core goal of our project is to use collaborative research to support local programs in their efforts to conduct wildfire outreach and education, and to support fire- prone communities in their efforts to become more fire- adapted. Such work can be accomplished when project objectives seek to understand, share, and engage the diverse perspectives that make up the communities their programs serve.

The objectives are to collect a systematic dataset that pairs the conditions of all the parcels in the study community (through a rapid risk assessment (RRA)) with social data, collected through a household survey. Like the RRA, the household survey is conducted as a census of all the households within the study community, rather than a sample, in order to ensure the broadest representation of the community. A paired dataset allows us to understand the biophysical conditions across the community’s landscape, and explore the relationship between the parcel-level conditions and the property owner’s wildfire-related attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. The data provide opportunities for our partners and for research.

Importantly, the data reveal the local, and unique contextual social dynamics that drive wildfire risk mitigation behaviors on private land within a community. As such, the project will increase local understanding of capacity for wildfire resilience, act as a strategic lever to advance fire adaptation efforts, help residents to better understand their individual risk, and support wildfire practitioners as they engage with residents about how they can take steps to mitigate risk.

This program supports collaborations between CU Boulder and the Platte Canyon Fire Protection District and the West Region Wildfire Council.

  • West Region Wildfire Council

    Location

    In Colorado

    Montrose

    Dates

    6/1/2021 - 6/30/2022

    Public or Private

    Private Program (by request only or for a specific audience or group)

    Program Fee

    No charge to attend/participate in activity or program

    Additional Info

    Starting in the summer of 2021, in collaboration with the West Region Wildfire Council, we will implement the WiRe Approach (www.wildfireresearchcenter.org) in order to collect local data on social and property-level conditions associated with wildfire risk. Results will be used to craft and improve efforts to galvanize wildfire risk reduction and preparedness in fire-prone communities

  • Platte Canyon Fire Protection District

    Location

    In Colorado

    Bailey

    Dates

    5/1/2019 - 8/1/2021

    Public or Private

    Private Program (by request only or for a specific audience or group)

    Program Fee

    No charge to attend/participate in activity or program

    Additional Info

    In the summer of 2020, members of the Platte Canyon Fire Department conducted over 1200 rapid wildfire risk assessments on the private properties in Burland Ranchettes. Following this, we administered household surveys to collect social data. Paired together, these data baseline observations of the relative wildfire risk on the properties as well as the social characteristics of the community.

Sponsoring Units

  • Research Institutes

  • Institute of Behavioral Science (IBS)

Program Partners

  • West Region Wildfire Council (cowildfire.org)
  • Platte Canyon Fire Protection District (plattecanyonfire.com)
  • Fire Adapted Bailey (www.fireadaptedbailey.org)
  • Fire Adapted Colorado (FACO) (fireadaptedco.org)
  • Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network (fireadaptednetwork.org)

Audiences Served

  • General Public
  • Non-Profit Organization
  • Rural Communities