A Network Perspective on the Wildfire Risk Management System: A Comparison of Two Cases in the Western US (Northern Washington and Northern Utah)

Authors: Max Nielsen-Pincus*, Portland State University, Cody R Evers, Portland State University
Topics: Hazards and Vulnerability, Hazards, Risks, and Disasters
Keywords: Wildfire risk, networks, cross-boundary, Utah, Washington
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 7
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Local, state, and federal investments are shaping the future of wildfire risk management across the nation. Northern Washington and Northern Utah are two of twenty wildfire risk hotspots in the western US where wildfire risk has challenged residents, officials, and land managers to rethink how wildfire risk is managed. Towards that end, stakeholders in both regions have invested in different approaches to managing wildfire risk that foster learning and engagement across boundaries. State and federal planning have convened a diversity of stakeholders from different agencies, jurisdictions, organizations, and interests, at the local level to envision new ways to adapt to the future of wildland fire. To understand how these investments are shaping the region’s wildland fire management system, we conducted a survey of wildfire risk management professionals (n=514) aimed at identifying who is part of the wildfire management system, their roles, where they work, and how are they connected to each other. Results suggest that each system is comprised of a diverse, but different set of actors; that risk management is focused in and around the wildland urban interface; and that the structure of relationships between stakeholders in each region are substantially different. In both regions, the state Department of Natural Resource staff play an important role bridging relationships between federal and local stakeholders, while also being central actors in each respective wildfire risk management system. The results highlight the importance of boundary spanners in the wildfire risk management system for connecting diverse stakeholders and increasing potential for collaborative engagement.

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