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Plos One

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Wildfires -- research, Wildfire risk -- United States


Since their introduction two decades ago, Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs) have become a common planning tool for improving community preparedness and risk mitigation in fire-prone regions, and for strengthening coordination among federal and state land management agencies, local government, and residents. While CWPPs have been the focus of case studies, there are limited large-scale studies to understand the extent of, and factors responsible for, variation in stakeholder participation—a core element of the CWPP model. This article describes the scale and scope of participation in CWPPs across the western United States. We provide a detailed account of participants in over 1,000 CWPPs in 11 states and examine how levels of participation and stakeholder diversity vary as a function of factors related to planning process, planning context, and the broader geographic context in which plans were developed. We find that CWPPs vary substantially both by count and diversity of participants and that the former varies as a function of the geographic scale of the plan, while the latter varies largely as a function of the diversity of landowners within the jurisdiction. More than half of participants represented local interests, indicating a high degree of local engagement in hazard mitigation. Surprisingly, plan participation and diversity were unrelated to wildfire hazard. These findings suggest that CWPPs have been largely successful in their intent to engage diverse stakeholders in preparing for and mitigating wildfire risk, but that important challenges remain. We discuss the implications of this work and examine how the planning process and context for CWPPs may be changing.


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