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Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Arun Regmi; Jesse K. Kreye; Melissa M. Kreye
Publication Date: 2024

Background: Fire is an important ecological process that shapes structures and compositions in many ecosystems worldwide. Changes in climate, land use, and long-term fire exclusion have altered historic fire regimes often leading to more intense and severe wildfires and loss of biodiversity. There is an increasing interest by resource managers to reintroduce fire in historically fire-dependent ecosystems while enhancing the provision of ecosystem services. Restoring fire, however, is complicated by a diverse mix of public and private land ownerships in regions like the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic US, where private lands make up the majority (~ 70%) but prescribed burning is less common. To help inform policies that promote prescribed burning on private lands, we conducted a regional survey of forest landowners regarding their perspectives and willingness to pay (WTP) for prescribed fire as a management tool. We also used spatial hotspot analysis to detect regional variations in landowner opinions.

Results: Respondents had limited knowledge and experience with burning overall, but many also perceived fire as a low-risk tool and were trusting of burning professionals. Most landowners (64%) expressed interest in a variety of prescribed fire programs to help achieve management outcomes. Preferred outcomes include protecting forest health, controlling invasive species, and wildlife habitat. Also significant in explaining landowner choices were economic (e.g., cost of burning), governance (e.g., state coordination, cost-share assistance, and access to consultants), and demographic factors. According to two models, the mean WTP for the prescribed fire was $10 ha−1 and $40 ha−1 ($4 ac−1 and $16 ac−1) but could be as high as $220 ha−1 ($89 ac−1) for specific outcomes and programs. Spatial analysis revealed a north–south gradient in landowner opinions across the region, with opinions about burning more positive in the south. Pennsylvania landowners were unique within our study in that they placed the highest economic value on prescribed fire, despite having limited knowledge and experience.

Conclusions: There is significant support by landowners to use prescribed fire to achieve management objectives on private lands in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic region. Pennsylvania landowners, in particular, were strongly motivated to use prescribed fire; however, knowledge and experience are severely limited. Education, technical support, financial assistance, and access to professionals will be important for helping landowners use prescribed fire to achieve management objectives.

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Citation: Regmi, Arun; Kreye, Jesse K.; Kreye, Melissa M. 2024. Forest landowner values and perspectives of prescribed fire in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. Fire Ecology 20:30.

Cataloging Information

  • economic demand
  • forest management
  • hotspot analysis
  • land management
  • perceived risk
  • prescribed burning
  • private landowners
  • public survey
  • spatial autocorrelation
  • WTP - willingness to pay
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Record Maintained By: FRAMES Staff (
FRAMES Record Number: 69146