Graduate Project


Factors Influencing Residential Risk Perception in Fire-Prone Landscapes Public Deposited

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  • Since the 1990s the U.S. and especially the Western U.S. have experienced more intense and costly fires. To help address this problem government agencies are increasingly looking at homeowners in fire-prone landscapes to mitigate fire risk. Part of this effort involves communicating risk and understanding how residents perceive risk. This paper seeks to analyze and better understand how residents in a fire-prone ecosystem determine wildfire risk. It conducted a mail-based survey in six central Oregon counties and produced a response rate of 51 percent. The survey contained a descending scale of five risk targets ie region or neighborhood and asked respondent to choose how much risk they perceive for the given target. Drawing on the literature around risk perception and natural hazards, a number of potentially significant variables were included in the analysis. Then, models were created for the risk target and regressed through Ordinal Logit. This study found that respondents were more likely to perceive higher risk at broader targets while they perceived less risk at lower and more personal targets. It also found proximity to a wildland area, home or property exposure to wildfire, and management approval to significantly influence residential risk perception. These results were not all consistent with the research expectations, but still offer interesting insight into how people conceptualize risk.
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