Prescribed fire has the potential to offer many cultural and ecological benefits, and help build resilience under climate change, however, research examining the value of prescribed fire has largely focused on the benefits of reduced wildfire hazard. Both wildfire and prescribed fire occur infrequently in mid-Atlantic regions of the United States, however, there is increased interest in using prescribed fire as a forest management tool mainly for oak regeneration, wildlife habitat management, and ecological restoration, but a majority of burning is limited to public lands. Since more than 70% of forests in this region are privately owned and consist of fire-dependent ecosystems, prescribed fire could be a viable option for forest management on private lands. Currently, there is an important information gap on forest landowner knowledge and demand for prescribed fire on private lands in this region. To fill this gap, we propose to use standard choice experiment survey methods to evaluate landowners’ willingness to pay for a range of potential prescribed burn programs and estimate the value of prescribed burning in the mid-Atlantic US. The findings may help to make effective strategies to support private land burning in this region.

First: Participant training in a prescribed burn course (Jesse Kreye/PSU). Second: Oak regeneration following a prescribed burn (USDA Forest Service)

The use of prescribed fire for oak management and regeneration (Ellen Eberhardt)

Study Objective

  • Assess landowner demand for prescribed burning programs and associated ecological benefits (i.e., willingness to pay per acre).
  • Understand the role of knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions in forming landowner preferences and willingness to pay for prescribed fire programs.
  • Deliver findings to advocates of prescribed fire in the mid-Atlantic US to help inform programming to increase prescribed burning on private lands.