First Advisor

Max Nielsen-Pincus

Term of Graduation

Spring 2023

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Environmental Science and Management


Environmental Studies




Collaborative governance, Community-agency relationships, Issue framing, Social license, Wildfire management, Wildfire risk



Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 114 pages)


Adverse impacts of wildfire in Western North America have become increasingly present through the 21st century, driven by landscape changes imposed by colonists in the 19th and 20th centuries. Community adaptations to wildfire will be necessary through the 21st century to restore landscapes and protect the safety and livelihoods of people who live in at-risk areas. Wildfire risk extends across countless environmental and social systems, and individuals have competing ideas about what constitutes that risk and how to best adapt to it. As resources are being allocated to community adaptations, important questions emerge about the values represented in the design of those adaptations. In this thesis, I empirically examine community adaptations to wildfire in Central Oregon in the United States to shed light on the processes of inclusion in collaborative management. Specifically, I explain how input from the public is incorporated into regional wildfire risk mitigation projects, and why some wildfire managers are more inclined than others to include public input in their project plans. I found that generally, projects are designed by wildfire management professionals based on their values and policy frameworks, but they design these projects to be tolerable by communities to avoid litigation. This structure for designing projects allows managers an amount of flexibility as to how they include public feedback in their projects. I found that different cultural perceptions about the nature of wildfire risk leads managers to include more or less public input in their project planning. I conclude that wildfire managers are leaving latent adaptive-capacity untapped by not deliberately including the public in the beginning stages of designing wildfire adaptation projects.


© 2023 Liam Resener

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