Across the American West, forests have diverse owners and are managed for different goals. But when wildfire ignites on one parcel—whether managed by the USDA Forest Service, a corporation, a tribe, or a family forest land owner—all neighbors are at risk. Fire doesn’t respect property boundaries.
For the past decade, the Forest Service has been promoting an “all-lands” approach that advocates cross-boundary cooperation to reduce fire danger across landscapes with multiple owners. In 2014, the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership—a cooperative venture between the Forest Service and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service—formed to fund all-lands projects that involve forest and rangeland restoration, including fuels reduction.
Susan Charnley, a research social scientist with the Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station, and colleagues recently looked at six of these projects in Oregon and California to identify the social factors that lead to success. They found that cross-boundary cooperation can make wildfire mitigation more effective. Other factors that help include funding, trust, reciprocity, technical support, workforce capacity, communication, and an understanding that the benefits of working together outweigh the costs.
As wildfire becomes a more persistent threat across much of the Western United States, information about successful cooperative wildfire management is crucial.
Kirkland, John; Charnley, Susan. 2021. Taking an “all-lands” approach to managing wildfire across diverse forest ownerships. Science Findings 237. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 5 p.