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Ecology and Society

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Wildfires -- research, Wildfire risk -- United States, Community wildfire protection plans -- risk assessment


The growing scale of natural hazards highlights the need for models of governance capable of addressing risk across administrative boundaries. However, risk governance systems are often fragmented, decentralized, and sustained by informal linkages among local-level risk mitigation planning processes. Improving resilience to the effects of environmental change requires a better understanding of factors that contribute to these linkages. Using data on the patterns of participation of 10,199 individual stakeholders in 837 community wildfire protection plans (CWPPs) within the western U.S., we document the emergence of a locally clustered but spatially extensive wildfire risk governance network. Our evaluation of factors that contribute to connectivity within this network indicates that risk interdependence (e.g., joint exposure to the same fires) between planning jurisdictions increases the prospects for linkages between planning processes, and that connectivity is also more likely among planning processes that are more proximate and similar to one another. We discuss how our results advance understanding of how changing hazard conditions prompt risk mitigation policy networks to reorganize, which in turn affects risk outcomes at multiple spatial scales.


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