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Project ID: 11-3-1-33

Year: 2011

Date Started: 08/01/2011

Date Completed: 05/08/2014

Title: Exploring How Deliberation on Scientific Information Shapes Stakeholder Perceptions of Smoke and Forest Management

Project Proposal Abstract: Climate driven changes to fuel loads, fire regimes, and the potential for uncharacteristically large and severe wildfires in forests of the western United States have created the need for active management to mitigate fire hazards. Prescribed fire is an important tool in managing forests, but smoke impacts to air quality, human health, and lifestyles can lead to substantial public concerns. Our proposed research through the Graduate Research Innovation (GRIN) program represents a unique opportunity to complement and link two existing JFSP-funded studies of public perceptions and tolerance of smoke (2010-1.3) with an NSF-funded study of climate driven changes in forest health, fire regimes, and rain/snow transition in the northern Rockies. We are proposing a mixed-methods investigation of participatory deliberation, focusing on how stakeholders process and use technical biophysical and social data related to forest health, fire, and smoke to inform management recommendations or support. Participatory processes that present balanced information and provide the opportunity for engaged discussion with managers and experts are anticipated to result in carefully considered and higher quality public opinions. There is a current need to explore how public knowledge and understanding of complex and uncertain issues (such as future climate and forest health scenarios) is affected by scientific knowledge and group deliberations. Coupling the proposed deliberative process research with our current quantitative survey (JFSP 2010-1.3) will provide greater insight into peoples reasoning and determine how scientific information affects their knowledge and attitudes about forest management alternatives. Results from these workshops will help land managers evaluate whether and how such workshops contribute to the effective transfer of science through collaborative learning. The study will focus on the northern Rocky Mountains, a region identified as particularly vulnerable to climate driven changes to the size and number of large fires and greater smoke emissions. Five communities, including urban and rural wildland urban interface communities, will be targeted that have strong smoke-related attitudes (as determined by our current JFSP 2010-1.3 research), and which are located in areas identified as the most sensitive to climate change effects (as determined by the NSF IGERT team). Citizen participants will be recruited from the JFSP 2010-1.3 research and offered a small honorarium for participation in day-long workshops. The proposed workshops will follow processes that our research team has successfully used before, beginning with presentations of scientific findings from social and ecological research, followed by facilitated small group discussions. Participants will develop questions for an expert panel; our existing professional relationships with land managers and resource experts in the northern Rockies and the west will help ensure their participation in the proposed workshops. Participants will then have the opportunity for further deliberation about alternative management scenarios. Workshops will end with a post-test survey containing the same knowledge and attitude questions as on the pre-test. The small group deliberations will be recorded, and qualitative techniques will be used to explore how citizens used the scientific information in reaching their opinions. Analysis of covariance and regression will be used to explore and explain changes in knowledge and attitudes. Findings will be presented in Ph.D. dissertation chapters, refereed publications, conference papers, a final project report, and a non-technical informational flyer for land managers.

Principal Investigator: Troy E. Hall

Agency/Organization: University of Idaho

Branch or Dept: Department of Conservation Social Sciences

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Agreements Contact

Cathryn L Knock

University of Idaho

Office of Sponsored Programs

Budget Contact

Cathryn L Knock

University of Idaho

Office of Sponsored Programs

Co-Principal Investigator

Jarod J. Blades

University of Idaho

College of Natural Resources

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network

Northern Rockies






Interior West


Project Deliverables

Final Report view or print

("Results presented in JFSP Final Reports may not have been peer-reviewed and should be interpreted as tentative until published in a peer-reviewed source.")

  ID Type Title
view or print go to website 102 Ph.D. Dissertation Bridging natural resource communication boundaries: Public perceptions of smoke from wildland fires
  go to website 7312 Training Session Workshop presentations and handouts for use as training materials
  go to website 7311 Website Multi-scale climate change research and communication
view or print   7473 Photo Northern Rockies Research Team
view or print   7474 Photo Workshop - Boise ID
view or print   7475 Photo Small group break out deliberation session
view or print   7476 Photo Interdisciplinary PhD research team
view or print   7477 Photo Rain-snow transition modeling and animation
view or print   7478 Photo Climate-FVS example
view or print   7479 Poster Forest managers response to climate change science: Toward understanding the cognitive impacts of..

Supporting Documents

There are no supporting documents available for this project.

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