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People and fire at Florida's wildland-urban interface

ing in less risky areas, said Butry. However, there is a marked difference between those living in areas where fire is a result of prescribed burning and those living in areas with wildfires. People living in wildfire areas tend to be older, more often Caucasian, and wealthier than those in areas with only prescribed fires.

The researchers related these differences to how different types of forested land are valued. Prescribed burning is usually used in intensely managed government-owned forests that may provide fewer aesthetic and recreation benefitsand more exposure to smoke. Nearby land tends to be relatively low-priced. Wildfire-prone areas where prescribed burning is not used tend to be privately owned, and--perceived as providing access to a more natural, undisturbed forestvalued higher.

The study highlights some of the challenges facing policy makers and land managers concerned with reducing wildfire risk or maintaining fire-adapted ecosystems in areas with a growing population either unaccustomed or averse to the use of prescribed fire. Demographic analyses such as these may help land managers and educators better target prescribed fire and wildlife education programs, said Butry. Such programs could ease the concerns of residents and change attitudes toward fire management in areas at high risk for wildfire.


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Contact: David Butry
dbutry@fs.fed.us
919-549-4037
Southern Research Station - USDA Forest Service
13-May-2002


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