Factors Influencing the Development of Rangeland Fire Protection Associations: Exploring Fire Mitigation Programs for Rural, Resource-based Communities
Thesis (M.S., Natural Resources) -- University of Idaho, 2016 | Increases in wildfire frequency and extent in rangelands pose a growing threat to private property and ecosystem health. The state of Idaho, USA, recently promoted Rangeland Fire Protection Associations (RFPAs)—nonprofit organizations of local citizens who contribute to firefighting efforts on public rangelands—as one way to mitigate rangeland wildfire risk. This study used in-depth interviews with RFPA members and land management professionals to explore the local circumstances that influenced the establishment and functioning of one RFPA. Results indicate that intergenerational ties to “working the land,” existing reciprocity among neighbors, a culture of self-reliance, and informal social networks all contributed to RFPA formation and functioning. Interaction between RFPA members and professionals improved their relationships and promoted shared understandings about wildfire response. We conclude by discussing conditions that might enable or inhibit RFPAs in other areas and how our findings advance research on adapting mitigation programs to local context.