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Project ID: 17-1-06-6

Year: 2017

Date Started: 10/01/2017

Ending Date:  09/30/2021

Title: Co-managing risk or parallel play? examining connectivity across wildfire risk mitigation and fire response in the Intermountain West

Project Proposal Abstract: The governance of wildfire risk management in the United States is organizationally complex. Landscapes with similar wildfire threats (firesheds) contain multiple entities undertaking a variety of pre-wildfire mitigation and fire response actions across scales from neighborhoods to watersheds. Despite laws, policies, and agreements calling for cohesive strategies, these entities often do not work closely for efficient and effective risk management. They face inconsistent: policies and budgets, organizational structures and processes, and conceptions of values at risk. Collectively, these challenges discourage joint accountability and action, and contribute to rising fire suppression costs. Our research question is: What factors can overcome organizational disconnects to foster co-management of firesheds? We hypothesize that well-recognized interactional factors (i.e. trust or learning) alone are insufficient. Research on inter-organizational collaboration indicates that boundary spanning work is also needed to bridge different risk paradigms, defined as the organizational structures and processes that shape risk management. We will use comparative case studies of six firesheds in varied socio-ecological settings to analyze how boundary spanning attributes enable co-management between spatial scales and between mitigation and fire response. Our objectives are to: 1) Characterize wildfire risk management at the fireshed scale, 2) Develop new knowledge of relationships between organizational structures/processes and values at risk, 3) Identify boundary spanning organizational attributes and causal factors; and 4) Inform more effective co-management with validated theories and actionable recommendations. Based on our previous experience and targeted outreach with experts in mitigation and fire response, we developed a study design with multiple structured methods to triangulate and leverage diverse data sources, and analyses that allowed more focused examination than solely exploratory and inductive approaches. Data collection will occur through content analysis, human ecology mapping, structured and semistructured interviews, and a Delphi survey process. Our analysis processes will allow for grounded but structured theory building and hypothesis evaluation. Our total deliverables will be two practitioner-oriented briefing papers, a project website, two story maps, two Extension news stories, four peer-reviewed journal articles, three conference presentations (ISSRM, Restoring the West, and International Association of Wildland Fire), one video short, four interactive webinars (with Joint Fire Science Knowledge Exchanges), and two briefings (jointly to National Interagency Fire Center/National Wildfire Coordinating Group, and one to Western Regional Strategy Committee leadership). This project addresses Research Needs 1,2, and 4 in Task Statement 6. It will produce actionable recommendations to improve communication about respective responsibilities for wildland fire risks and outcomes in a fireshed, align management objectives, and coordinate actions before, during, and after fires. Results will directly inform implementation of the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Strategy, design of mitigation activities to better include safe and feasible fire response options, and specific mechanisms for joint accountability among wildfire risk management entities.

Principal Investigator: Emily Jane Davis

Agency/Organization: Oregon State University

Branch or Dept: Department of Forest Ecosystems & Society

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Agreements Contact

Tuba Ozkan-Haller

Oregon State University

Office of Sponsored Programs

Budget Contact

Tuba Ozkan-Haller

Oregon State University

Office of Sponsored Programs

Co-Principal Investigator

Tony S. Cheng

Colorado State University

Colorado Forest Restoration Institute

Co-Principal Investigator

Heidi R. Huber-Stearns

University of Oregon

Institute for a Sustainable Environment

Co-Principal Investigator

Darren J. McAvoy

Utah State University

Department of Wildland Resources


Dennis R. Becker

University of Idaho

Department of Natural Resources and Society

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network

Great Basin

Northern Rockies

Southern Rockies







Pacific Coast States



Interior West


Project Deliverables

There is no final report available for this project.
There are no deliverables available for this project.

Supporting Documents

There are no supporting documents available for this project.

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