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ARS Home » Plains Area » Mandan, North Dakota » Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #358121

Research Project: Sustainable Agricultural Systems for the Northern Great Plains

Location: Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory

Title: Using behavioral change models to understand private landowner perceptions of prescribed fire in North Dakota

Author
item BENDEL, CAYLA - Pheasants Forever
item Toledo, David
item HOVICK, TORRE - North Dakota State University
item MCGRANAHAN, DEVAN - North Dakota State University

Submitted to: Rangeland Ecology and Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/28/2019
Publication Date: 1/15/2020
Citation: Bendel, C., Toledo, D.N., Hovick, T., Mcgranahan, D. 2020. Using behavioral change models to understand private landowner perceptions of prescribed fire in North Dakota. Rangeland Ecology and Management. 73;194-200. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rama.2019.08.014.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rama.2019.08.014

Interpretive Summary: Kentucky bluegrass is a concern on many rangelands in the Northern Great Plains of North America. Re-introducing fire may be one of the best ways to combat bluegrass invasion in the Northern Great Plains. But, people’s ideas about risks and barriers currently limit its use. We report findings of a project to identify the human aspects of using prescribed fire in North Dakota. Our results show that fire is generally acceptable to many North Dakota landowners. Landowners see lack of time and access to resources as more important factors than risk when deciding whether to use fire. Prescribed burn associations are an effective approach to overcoming barriers to prescribed fires. Prescribed burn associations may help gain support for prescribed fires in North Dakota and may provide the resources to safely and effectively conduct prescribed fires.

Technical Abstract: Kentucky bluegrass has become a conservation concern on many remaining rangelands in the Northern Great Plains of North America. Re-introduction of fire may be one of the best ways to combat bluegrass invasion in the Northern Great Plains, but perceptions of risk and other societal constraints currently limit its use. We mailed a self-administered questionnaire to 460 landowners in North Dakota to identify landowner attitudes and perceptions towards prescribed fire and understand major factors that limit the use of fire in rangeland management of this area. Our results indicate that in general, survey respondents had positive attitudes towards prescribed fire and believe prescribed fire is a beneficial tool for restoring rangelands with 22% of respondents having performed a prescribed fire on their land. A plurality of respondents also agreed that they were concerned about the potential negative effects of a prescribed fire on their neighbor’s property. Results also show that once respondents have decided to include the periodic use of prescribed burns as part of their management plans there is a strong likelihood that they will perform a prescribed fire. However, there is also a moderately strong likelihood that if the landowner perceives constraints due to lack of labor and equipment, the prescribed burn will not be implemented. Based on our findings, we propose that focusing on indirect factors influencing burn intention (e.g. attitudes, norms, and knowledge), reducing direct constraints (labor and equipment), and increasing outreach on the benefits of prescribed fire to ranchers, will be most effective at changing burn behavior in the study area.