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    Author(s): Courtney A. Schultz; Sarah M. McCaffrey; Heidi R. Huber-Stearns
    Date: 2019
    Source: International Journal of Wildland Fire. 28: 874-884.
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (148.0 KB)


    Prescribed fire is an important management tool on US federal lands that is not being applied at the necessary or desired levels. We investigated the role of policy barriers and opportunities for prescribed fire application on US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands in the western United States. We conducted 54 semi-structured interviews with federal and state land managers and air quality regulators, and with several non-federal partners. We found that lack of adequate capacity and funding were the most commonly cited barriers to increasing application of prescribed fire. Interviewees also emphasised that owing to a lack of incentives and the prevalence of risk aversion at multiple agency levels, active prescribed fire programs depend on the leadership and commitment of individual decision-makers and fire managers. Successful approaches also rely on collaborative forums and positions that allow communication, problem-solving and resource sharing among federal and state partners, and that facilitate dialogue between air-quality and land managers. We did not find that air quality regulation was consistently cited as a major barrier, except in specific locations. Our findings highlight the importance of contextualised investigation into policy barriers and the role of collaborative and multilevel governance approaches for addressing complex land management challenges.

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    Schultz, Courtney A.; McCaffrey, Sarah M.; Huber-Stearns, Heidi R. 2019. Policy barriers and opportunities for prescribed fire application in the western United States. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 28: 874-884.


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    collaborative governance, federal land management, fire management, forest policy, policy implementation

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