Fire Adapted Bailey: Launching an Evidence-Based Approach
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 work of this 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.
Our primary partner for this project is Fire Adapted Bailey (FAB), a non-profit serving 68 fire-prone communities in Park and Jefferson counties, just west of Denver. FAB, seeks to “get the attention of residents regarding the dangers associated with the current state of our forests in an organized and targeted fashion … Our objectives are to increase individual homeowner awareness of their own risks and move toward taking concrete steps to mitigate those risks, as well as to obtain community-wide perceptions of wildfire risk, risk mitigation behaviors, and responses to incentives to mitigate risk.” Burland Ranchettes, the study site, is a one of the highest risk FAB communities and is comprised of 1135 owner-occupied homes. Burland Ranchettes Home Owners Association has three objectives, one of which is to “maintain Firewise community status via continued education of our residents on mitigation to reduce wildfire impacts.”
The central goal of the broader project is build a collaborative researcher-practitioner relationship with FAB (www.fireadaptedbailey.org) in order to provide evidence-based insights into the social dimensions of the local wildfire dilemma. 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 FAB as they engage with residents about how they can take steps to mitigate risk.
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