International Journal of Wildland Fire International Journal of Wildland Fire Society
Journal of the International Association of Wildland Fire
RESEARCH ARTICLE

A multi-region analysis of factors that influence public acceptance of smoke from different fire sources

Christine S. Olsen A D , Eric Toman B and Stacey Frederick C

A Department of Forest Ecosystems & Society, 321 Richardson Hall, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97731, USA.

B School of Environment and Natural Resources, 210 Kottman Hall, 2021 Coffey Road, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.

C Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, 130 Mulford Hall, MC #3114, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.

D Corresponding author. Email: christine.olsen@oregonstate.edu

International Journal of Wildland Fire - https://doi.org/10.1071/WF16034
Submitted: 23 February 2016  Accepted: 1 March 2017   Published online: 26 April 2017

Abstract

The increase in area burned by wildfire has simultaneously brought increased concern about smoke impacts, both from wildfires and fires intentionally set to manage landscapes. Public concern about the potential health and other impacts of smoke can cause apprehension among managers who are considering prescribed burns, some to the point that they choose not to burn. Yet, very little is known about public acceptance of smoke. Using results from public surveys in four states, this paper explores the factors that influence public acceptance of smoke from six types of fire (wildfire, prescribed fire, agricultural burns, managed fire, pile burns and burns on private lands) as well as aggregate acceptance across all fire types. Overall, the public is generally accepting of smoke, particularly for fire types that are either viewed as uncontrollable (wildfire) or providing benefits to broader society rather than individuals. However, a sizable minority does not accept smoke. Factors that influence acceptance of smoke vary by fire type, but several coincided for multiple types of fire, including both health and non-health related risk, confidence in managing agencies, beliefs about benefits of prescribed fire use and rural living, among others. Prior experience with negative health impacts from smoke only influenced acceptance for agricultural burns.

Additional keywords: agricultural burn, communities, fuel treatment, human health, managed fire, prescribed fire, risk.


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