These stories are published from time to time when fresh social surveys are conducted- usually every 4-5 years.
Public Perceptions Survey for Greater Flagstaff Forests Partnership 2006-2007
Greater Flagstaff Forests Partnership (GFFP) added a series of questions to the annual Greater-Flagstaff Omnibus Survey conducted by the Social Research Laboratory (SRL) at Northern Arizona University (NAU) in April, 2006. The purpose of the survey, as part of the GFFP Monitoring Research Team’s mission, was to assess social understanding and acceptance of land management practices, while establishing a baseline for public perceptions and attitudes towards forest health issues. The telephone survey was conducted with 606 randomly-selected residents of the Flagstaff, Arizona area, using Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing technology and trained interviewers. To assess public perceptions over time, two questions regarding prescribed burning were repeated in 2007.
An overwhelming majority of respondents (91%) believe that forest management projects (including thinning of trees, prescribed burns, forest restoration, and fuel reduction) have a positive impact on the health of the forests (65% “very positive,” 26% “somewhat positive”).
The majority of Flagstaff citizens (81%) believe that forest management activities have been effective at reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire (38% “very effective,” 43% “somewhat effective”).
Realizing that smoke is produced from prescribed burning, an overwhelming majority of Flagstaff residents (91% in 2006; 92% in 2007) said they are supportive of prescribed burns in the Flagstaff area.
The 2006 survey indicated a noticeable split in those supportive of prescribed burning, to “allow burning anytime” (43%) or “limit the number of days” of burning (40%). Two months after the 2006 survey was administered, the Woody Fire occurred on the western edge of Flagstaff, forcing evacuations and impacting thousands of residents. When the question was repeated in the spring of 2007, responses for “burns should be allowed anytime” increased to 55%, while those who thought the number of days of prescribed burning “should be limited” decreased to 35%.
Accomplishment to Date:
Consistent public outreach by the Coconino National Forest and the GFFP has been effective in increasing awareness and appreciation of forest management and fire’s role in the ecosystem. Communication tools have included articles in local newspapers, radio and TV, field trips, educational programs in schools and at community events.
Greater Flagstaff Forests Partnership Fuel Reduction and Forest Health Projects -Flagstaff Area Wildland Urban Interface 1999 – Present
The Greater Flagstaff Forest Partnership (GFFP) Fuel Reduction and Forest Health Projects – located on the Peaks and Mormon Lake Ranger Districts of the Coconino National Forest – include a 300,000 acre gross area and 100,000 acres of net Forest Service area that surrounds the City of Flagstaff and adjacent communities. Projects began shortly after the 1996 fire season, a particularly intense fire year on the Coconino, and a time when the West began experiencing increased fire intensity and size along with increased activity in the Wildland Urban Interface.
The GFFP, an alliance of more than 20 environmental, governmental and business organizations, formed to promote the need for fuel treatments and to make planning efforts more efficient. The Partnership recognized a 300,000 acre area around Flagstaff (100,000 acres of FS land) in need of such treatment. Over the past decade, the Coconino National Forest and other management agencies have been collaborating to reduce fuels and fire risk and improve forest health.
Implementation Plan and Accomplishment to Date
The Coconino recently completed all of the landscape scale planning on Partnership projects. In general, the projects include Fuel Risk Reduction and Forest Health Restoration and Improvement on six landscape scale projects. A total of 80,000 net acres are now under decision.
Implementation has been initiated on all of the projects using a variety of contracting tools including timber sales and stewardship and service contracting. To date, over 45,000 acres have been or are currently under contract to be thinned and over 30,000 acres have received follow-up prescribed fire treatments.
Implementation will continue on an annual basis, thinning approximately 5,000 acres per year and burning 10,000 acres per year, until all projects under decision have been completed. At the current implementation rate, thinning is expected to be complete by 2014.
The Greater Flagstaff Forest Partnership and the resulting projects have been highly successful. The work completed has greatly reduced the fire threat to Flagstaff and the associated urban interface areas, improved forest health, and made significant progress in restoration of fire adapted ecosystems.