Equity in Wildfire Risk Management: Does Socioeconomic Status Predict Involvement in Federal Programs to Mitigate Wildfire Risk?
Ojerio, Ryan S., 1972-
Currently, biophysical risk factors figure prominently in federal resource allocation to communities threatened by wildfire. Yet, disaster research demonstrates that socioeconomic characteristics including age, gender, poverty, race, culture, education and political influence impact disaster risk and resilience. Consequently, this thesis evaluates whether federal wildfire program resources are reaching socially vulnerable populations. My hypothesis is that socially vulnerable populations are less likely to be involved in such mitigation efforts because of the emphasis on biophysical risk factors. To evaluate this, biophysical and social vulnerability indicators were linked at the Census Block Group level within the state of Arizona. Regression analysis was applied to evaluate predictors of participation and inclusion in federally funded wildfire mitigation efforts. Findings indicate that resources are focused on areas of high biophysical risk, without regard to social vulnerability. In fact, disadvantaged populations are less likely to be involved in wildfire mitigation efforts than their more affluent counterparts.