Graduate Project


Educating Pacific Northwest Campers on the Risk of Spreading Invasive Forest Pests through Firewood: Developing a Mental Model Public Deposited

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  • The spread of invasive species into the Pacific Northwest (PNW) of the United States poses a serious threat to the valuable forest resources of the region. Many insects and diseases that are a threat to these forest resources can be transported inside firewood. When campers transport their firewood across borders and ecosystems they can simultaneously spread invasive species into campgrounds and parks. In response to this risk, a campaign was developed to inform campers in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho about the risk of invasive species being transported through firewood. There are two main objectives of this research study. The first objective is to measure the effectiveness of this campaign in informing campers about the risk of invasive species moving through firewood. The second objective is to conduct an audience analysis of Pacific Northwest campers to identify key characteristics of campers and develop a mental model of their views, knowledge, and beliefs regarding invasive species and firewood that may be used to guide future risk communication tailored to campers needs and perceptions. Two surveys were conducted with PNW campers, a pre and post-campaign survey, in order to measure the impact of the risk communication campaign. Twenty-seven PNW campers participated in in-depth interviews where they were asked to describe their basic camping practices, environmental values, and invasive species knowledge. Their responses were coded and analyzed for dominant beliefs and major decision-making influences. The results indicate that there was an increase in campers’ exposure to information about invasive species in firewood after the completion of the campaign. However, several knowledge gaps and misconceptions by campers were identified that may be addressed in future risk messaging efforts to more effectively and efficiently communicate invasive species risks.
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