|KREUTER, URS - Texas A&M University|
|SORICE, MICHAEL - Virginia Tech|
Submitted to: Ecological Society of America Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/18/2016
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Fire suppression in grassland systems adapted to fire is a major factor that has contributed to recruitment of woody species into grasslands worldwide. Even though the ecology of restoring these fire prone systems back to a grassland state is becoming clearer, the major hurdle to reintroducing historic fire regimes at a landscape scale appears to be its social acceptability. We used structural equation modeling to explore linkages between landowners’ attitudes toward prescribed burns and social, practical and ecological constraints influencing the use of prescribed fire in Texas, USA. Our results suggest that experience, risk taking orientation, and especially social norms (i.e., perceived support from others) when implementing prescribed burns play an important role in determining the attitudes of landowners toward the use of high-intensity prescribed burns. Concern over lack of skill, knowledge, and insufficient resources have a moderately negative effect on these attitudes. Our results show the importance of targeted engagement strategies to address risk perceptions, subjective norms, and landowner’s concerns. Results also highlight how membership in Prescribed Burn Associations (PBAs) influence land manager decisions regarding the use of prescribed fire by reducing concerns over lack of skills, knowledge and resources. PBAs help build networks and social capital among landowners who are interested in using fire and are an effective mechanism for overcoming barriers to adoption of prescribed fire to restore and maintain the biophysical integrity of grasslands and savannas at the landscape scale.