Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2018

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Dale Miller

Second Advisor

Steven Vanderheiden

Third Advisor

Michael Dwyer

Abstract

The wildland-urban interface (WUI) of the conterminous United States is becoming increasingly important for both private and government land managers due to the increased wildfire risk. Private landowners within the WUI are responsible for wildfire mitigation on their own property, but not all landowners adopt or conduct sufficient measures. This study attempts to clarify factors that influence wildfire mitigation, using the WUI of El Paso County, CO as a case study. Social determinants, such as age, retirement status, and political affiliation were not found to be related to more frequent mitigation. Place dependency variables, such as local employment and duration of residence, were also found to have no association with mitigation, contrary results in preexisting literature. How residents perceived the wildfire risk was found to be an important determinant of more frequent mitigation, suggesting the need for education programs that help WUI residents more accurately evaluate the risk to lower the need for additional government firefighting resources in the event of a wildfire. Insurance policies requiring mitigation were sparse across the study area, and the requirements varied between companies. This study highlights the need for more comprehensive collaboration between private and public land managers, and an increased effort from federal agencies to educate landowners about wildfires in the abutting WUI.

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