Experiences with wildfire are associated with private landowners’ management decisions, relationships, and perceptions of risk

Clare Aslan, Ryan Tarver, Mark Brunson, Sam Veloz, Ben Sikes, Rebecca Epanchin-Niell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As human populations grow and anthropogenic change increases, costly wildland fires increasingly affect rural, public–private interface landscapes. Climate change, a history of fire suppression, and biological invasions are increasing fire risk in systems worldwide. Fires that ignite in one jurisdiction can spread across ownership boundaries, with the result that landscape-scale fire management and planning requires understanding differential fire response and management across jurisdictions. To illuminate relationships between landowner attitudes and fire management and their experience with past wildfires, we combined geospatial wildfire data from the Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity (MTBS) database and survey response data from 586 private landowners across three national park-centered ecosystems in the American West. We aimed to examine whether landowners’ attitudes toward their land, neighbors, public agencies, and fire itself were related to (a) whether they had experienced fire on their parcels, and (b) the extent and severity of the most recent fire event and the time elapsed since that fire. We found that the degree to which respondents reported that they manage for fire is related to whether a fire had burned on their parcels during their land tenure or, if prior to their tenure, within two years of their acquisition of the land. For those respondents that had thus experienced fire, their level of concern about wildfire, interactions with neighbors and public agencies, and perception that their land contributed to a broader economic or natural system were all related to the time that had elapsed since the fire. Furthermore, total burned area and the percent of the burn that was high severity interacted with time since fire to predict respondents’ attitudes and perceptions. Our findings illustrate the importance of personal past experiences in shaping private land managers’ relationships and viewpoints, as well as the likelihood that they invest in current fire management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105067
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
StatePublished - Jul 2024


  • Management jurisdictions
  • Public–private landscapes
  • Resilience
  • Social-ecological system
  • Time since fire
  • Total burned area

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Urban Studies
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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