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Race and Wildfire Risk Perceptions among Rural Forestland Owners in North-Central Florida

Wyman, Miriam, Malone, Sparkle, Stein, Taylor, Johnson, Cassandra
Society & natural resources 2012 v.25 no.12 pp. 1293-1307
Americans, Blacks, Whites, climate, disaster preparedness, education, fire suppression, forests, growing season, income, lightning, risk, wildfires, wildland fire management, Florida
The southern United States is susceptible to wildfire, from its climate, growing seasons, lightning frequency, and decades of fire suppression. With much known about wildfire's biophysical risks, less is understood about sociodemographic obstacles, including race, income, and education. Blacks in the rural southeastern United States are typically among the most marginalized Americans and least likely to have sufficient knowledge about resource protection. Because disaster preparedness has been shown to vary by sociodemographic status and race, this study focused on race and wildfire prevention by rural forestland owners in north-central Florida. Results show that while Whites were more aware of existing resources, they were less likely to incorporate preventative measures. In contrast, Blacks earned lower incomes and utilized their land less, but were more likely to manage and live on their land. We conclude that wildfire mitigation programs may be more effective when they work to connect absentee rural land owners to their land.