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The role of prescribed burn associations in the application of prescribed fires in rangeland ecosystems
- Toledo, David, Kreuter, Urs P., Sorice, Michael G., Taylor, Charles A.
- Journal of environmental management 2014 v.132 pp. 323
- attitudes and opinions, ecoregions, ecosystems, fire regime, humans, landowners, prescribed burning, questionnaires, range management, rangelands, risk, surveys, watersheds, Texas
- Risk and liability concerns regarding fire affect people's attitudes toward fire and have led to human-induced alterations of fire regimes. This has, in turn, contributed to brush encroachment and degradation of many grasslands and savannas. Efforts to successfully restore such degraded ecosystems at the landscape scale in regions of the United States with high proportions of private lands require the reintroduction of fire. Prescribed Burn Associations (PBA) provide training, equipment, and labor to apply fire safely, facilitating the application of this rangeland management tool and thereby reducing the associated risk. PBAs help build networks and social capital among landowners who are interested in using fire. They can also change attitudes toward fire and enhance the social acceptability of using prescribed fire as a management practice. PBAs are an effective mechanism for promoting the widespread use of prescribed fire to restore and maintain the biophysical integrity of grasslands and savannas at the landscape scale. We report findings of a project aimed at determining the human dimensions of using prescribed fire to control woody plant encroachment in three different eco-regions of Texas. Specifically, we examine membership in PBAs as it relates to land manager decisions regarding the use of prescribed fire. Perceived risk has previously been identified as a key factor inhibiting the use of prescribed fire by landowners. Our results show that perceived constraints, due to lack of skill, knowledge, and access to equipment and membership in a PBAs are more important factors than risk perceptions in affecting landowner decisions about the use of fire. This emphasizes the potential for PBAs to reduce risk perceptions regarding the application of prescribed fire and, therefore, their importance for restoring brush-encroached grasslands and savannas.