Landowners' perceptions on the use of prescribed fire as a management tool
Woodard, Justin Bradley
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The purpose of this project is to determine landowners?????? perceptions on the use of prescribed fire as a management tool. The majority of Texas rangelands are privately owned, and the sustainable management of almost all of the state??????s rangelands is contingent upon private land management decisions. Therefore, it is imperative for policy makers and extension agencies to understand landowners?????? perceptions, interests and concerns about alternative land management techniques. This is especially important for the use of prescribed fire, which has been identified as a critical management tool for maintaining the productivity of most Texas rangelands yet many landowners do not include it as an integral practice in managing their land. A better understanding of landowners?????? perspective of the use of fire could facilitate the increased use of this management tool through the development of effective educational, costshare and fire planning programs. The study reported here consisted of a mail survey of all 185 members of the Edwards Plateau Prescribed Burn Association (EPPBA) and 600 landowners in six counties in Texas. Four of those counties were located in the Edwards Plateau (Sutton, Schleicher, Mason, Llano) and two counties were located in the Rolling Plains (Throckmorton, Shackleford). In each county, 100 landowners possessing at least 50 acres of land were randomly selected for inclusion in the survey. The mail survey approach followed Dilman??????s five-step mailing procedure. Fire is an important rangeland management tool, but in a state where the majority of the land is privately owned fire suppression is still a dominant perspective. Our study suggests that important efforts to increase the use of prescribed fire include, educational programs about use of fire by landowners, increased assistance with prescribed fire plans, cost-sharing programs for fire implementation, and reduction in the legal liability associated with fire that burns out of control. Encouraging agencies to back educational programs and help teach landowners about the effects and uses of fire (burn plan assistance), and developing a resource pool to underwrite fire policies could increase the interest in and risk associated with the use of prescribed fires to more effectively manage rangelands in Texas, and elsewhere.