Case Study

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Landscape-scale fuel treatment effectiveness: Lessons learned from wildland fire case studies

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Seventeen of the 18 case studies occurred in the western United States, and all were primarily focused on forested ecosystems. Surface fire behavior was more commonly observed in areas treated for fuel reduction than in untreated areas, which managers described as evidence of treatment effectiveness. Reduced fire intensity diminished fire effects and supported fire suppression efforts, while offering the potential to use wildfires as a fuel treatment surrogate.

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Actionable social science can guide community level wildfire solutions. An illustration from North Central Washington, US

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In this study we illustrate the value of social data compiled at the community scale to guide a local wildfire mitigation and education effort. The four contiguous fire-prone study communities in North Central Washington, US, fall within the same jurisdictional fire service boundary and within one US census block group. Across the four communities, similar attitudes toward wildfire were observed. However, significant differences were found on the measures critical to tailoring wildfire preparation and mitigation programs to the local context such as risk mitigation behaviors, reported barriers to mitigation, and communication preferences across the four communities.

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Comparing land manager and community perceptions: Case study from CO Rx fire outreach

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We found that many community members were initially drawn to learn about wildfre risk mitigation, but their informational needs shifted toward broader forest ecology over time, suggesting that communication strategies and topics must also evolve over time. Some common terms used by land management professionals were unclear to public audiences, sometimes leading to feelings of dissatisfaction with outreach. One-on-one meetings and experiential group learning were perceived by information providers and community members to be useful strategies for outreach. Our fndings can be used to improve ongoing outreach in this study area and inform similar efforts elsewhere.

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Collective action for managing wildfire risk across boundaries in forest and range landscapes

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Across all cases, actors spanned boundaries to perform functions including: (1) convening meetings and agreements; (2) implementing projects; (3) community outreach; (4) funding support; (5) project planning; (6) scientific expertise. These functions fostered conducive boundary settings, concepts and objects to communicate and work across boundaries, navigating challenges to implementing work on the ground. This work highlights context-specific ways to advance cross-boundary wildfire risk reduction efforts and uses a boundary spanning lens to illustrate how collective action in wildfire management evolves in different settings. This research highlights prescribed fire as a gateway for future collective action on wildfire risk, including managing naturally ignited wildfires for resource benefits and improving coordination during wildfire suppression efforts.

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Social and historical dimensions of wildfire research and the consideration given to practical knowledge: A review

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We carried out a systematic literature review involving both a global and a case study approach (Portugal) to investigate the configuration of the social dimensions of wildfires in academic literature. We advance two interlocking claims: (i) human dimensions of wildfires are often simplified into shallow indicators of anthropogenic activities lacking social and historical grounding, and (ii) fire knowledge of Indigenous peoples and/or other forest and fire users and professionals remains overlooked. These arguments were manifest from the global-scale review and were confirmed by the case study of Portugal. The individual perceptions, memories and cultural practices of forest and fire users and professionals and the historical co-developments of fires, people and forests have been missing from wildfire research. Including and highlighting those perspectives will both add to existing knowledge and inform policies related to fire management by making them socially meaningful.

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Social and historical dimensions of wildfire research and the consideration given to practical knowledge: A systematic review

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Researchers carried out a systematic literature review involving both a global and a case study approach (Portugal) to investigate the configuration of the social dimensions of wildfires in academic literature. We advance two interlocking claims: (i) human dimensions of wildfires are often simplified into shallow indicators of anthropogenic activities lacking social and historical grounding, and (ii) fire knowledge of Indigenous peoples and/or other forest and fire users and professionals remains overlooked. These arguments were manifest from the global-scale review and were confirmed by the case study of Portugal. The individual perceptions, memories and cultural practices of forest and fire users and professionals and the historical co-developments of fires, people and forests have been missing from wildfire research. Including and highlighting those perspectives will both add to existing knowledge and inform policies related to fire management by making them socially meaningful.

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Managing invasive annual grasses, annually: A case for more case studies

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Four case studies shared at the 2020 Invasive Annual Grass workshop provide lessons learned and opportunities to advance future management efforts to inform the direction for new science. Tackling the complex problem of invasive annual grass management will require an expansion of science-based case studies of real-world management efforts, strong science and management partnerships, and a platform for continuous learning and communication, such as a comprehensive database to document management outcomes along with Open Access journals that allow publishing of negative and null outcomes.

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Scientist engagement with boundary organizations and knowledge coproduction: A case study of the Southwest Fire Science Consortium

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Overall, scientists more engaged with SWFSC reported involvement in a wider variety of knowledge coproduction activities. However, some knowledge coproduction activities, especially those requiring greater time investment or facing institutional barriers (e.g., research collaboration) were less common among all participants. Most scientists involved in knowledge coproduction believed that SWFSC increased their participation in these activities outside the boundary organization context, in part because SWFSC provided opportunities to interact with and understand the needs of managers/practitioners, as well as build research collaborations. Findings indicate that boundary organizations, such as SWFSC, can foster knowledge coproduction, but that they may need to further explore ways to address challenges for knowledge coproduction activities that involve greater time commitment or institutional challenges.

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Organizational influence on co-production of fire science: Challenges and opportunities 

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To better understand how research organizations enable and constrain co-production, this study examined seven co-produced wildland fire projects associated with the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS), through in-depth interviews with scientists, managers and community members. Results provide insights into how organizational structures and cultures influence the co-production of fire science. Research organizations like RMRS may be able to institutionalize co-production by adjusting the way they incentivize and evaluate researchers, increasing investment in science delivery and scientific personnel overall, and supplying long-term funding to support time-intensive collaborations. These sorts of structural changes could help transform the culture of fire science so that coproduction is valued alongside more conventional scientific activities and products.

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Network governance in the use of prescribed fire

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We conducted 53 interviews across four case studies in the western United States where federal land management agencies and cooperative actors are working together to accelerate the implementation of prescribed fire to understand the range of actors and associated roles they play. We found that interviewees identified 67 different organizations spanning local to national scales that played a variety of roles to support prescribed fire implementation, mainly communications, prescribed burn labor, fundraising, burning expertise, and burning on neighboring lands. Many actors did not serve in intentional bridging roles, but they filled key roles in the governance networks necessary to implement prescribed fire.

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