Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Resource Conservation

Department or School/College

College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Chair

Laurie Yung

Commitee Members

Mike Patterson, Sarah Halvorson


cognitive mapping, hazardou fuel reductions, landscape narratives, mapping meanings, participatory mapping, private forest landowners, relationship to place, sense of place, wildland-urban interface, WUI


University of Montana


Federal land management agencies are currently striving to become more democratic and open to citizen participation in decision-making. Recently, the build-up of hazardous forest fuels and ensuing increase in high-intensity wildland fire events across the western U.S. has led to growing interest in integrating local communities and their views and interests into the planning process for fuel reductions projects. One way to investigate local perspectives and make them available to local fire management officers is through qualitative research into relationship to place and preferences for proposed management actions using in-depth interviews with landowners residing in the wildland-urban interface. This study investigated the ways in which place meanings can inform decisions about hazardous fuels reduction on the Kootenai National Forest in northwestern Montana. I also explored the utility of representing meanings spatially for integration with typical GIS data. The hope was that if people’s relationships to place and their preferences for management actions could be represented spatially, that knowledge might allow us to understand which management alternatives are deemed appropriate for use in specific places. Such knowledge could aid managers in anticipating which management actions will be met with contention or approval. Findings indicate that landowners’ relationships to places are connected to their views on fire and fuels management. However, interview and mapping data also indicate that forest landowners typically lack specific preferences for fire and fuel management in specific locations on the landscape. Instead landowners seem to think about fire and fuel management at a landscape level. Landscape level preferences for fire and fuels managements were related to different views about the Cabinets as a whole, expressed through landscape narratives. The narratives created and invoked by landowners describe the region as either a working or a natural landscape. These narratives are woven from fundamental ideas that people hold about the relationship between humans and nature and include alternate perspectives on the inherent nature of wildland fire, forest aesthetics, and what constitutes “good stewardship” and “proper” forest management. Findings suggest that relationship to place may not always be geographically embedded in special places, as some place research assumes. Instead, place relationships may be situated at multiple, nested scales beginning with a particular geographical locale and expanding out to a much larger socio-cultural context.



© Copyright 2008 Michael Anthony Cacciapaglia