Scientists & Staff
Sarah M. McCaffrey
People and Their Environments: Social Science Supporting Natural Resource Management and Policy
E-mail: Contact Sarah M. McCaffrey
1033 University Place, Suite 360
Evanston, IL 60201-3172
Phone: 847-866-9311 x20
I conduct and coordinate research to better understand the social dynamics of fire management. I am currently responsible for a National Fire Plan grant examining social acceptability of fuels treatment methods. We have initiated almost two dozen studies in a variety of ecological and geographical settings across the country, examining a range of topics including what shapes acceptability of prescribed fire and thinning, why people do or do not implement defensible space practices, and social issues around post-fire restoration. I also am part of the Fuels Planning synthesis project, a national effort to synthesize current scientific knowledge on fuels treatments from both the ecological and social perspectives and provide it to managers in accessible format.
I plan on continuing to explore issues around the social dynamics of fire management. Areas where I am exploring possible research projects include biomass utilization, effectiveness of initiatives to foster management across boundaries such as The Nature Conservancy's Fire Learning Network, and issues related to institutional knowledge and organizational effectiveness. I also hope to develop collaborative research with scientists in other countries with wildfire issues.
Why This Research is Important
Social dynamics are a key part of fire management. No matter how ecologically and technically sound and well planned a treatment, its ultimate implementation will be highly dependant on public acceptance of the efforts. As more people move into high fire hazard areas, their active involvement in fire management will be central to successful efforts to reduce the hazard. As such, understanding their relevant beliefs and expectations, of the landscape and of land management agencies, will be crucial information for managers in developing effective plans to mitigate the fire hazard. My research helps clarify the reality behind much of the conventional wisdom about public beliefs actions in relation to fire and fuels management and what shapes those beliefs and actions. Having a clear and accurate conception of public's views can help ensure that managers' limited resources are directed in the most effective manner.
- University Of California--Berkeley, Ph.D. Wildland Resource Science, 2002
- University Of California--Berkeley, M.S. Wildland Resource Science, 1995
- Stanford University, B.A. International Relations, 1986
- Society of American Foresters
- International Association of Wildland Fire
- Society and Natural Resources
Featured Publications & Products
- Toman, Eric; Stidham, Melanie; Shindler, Bruce; McCaffrey, Sarah. 2011. Reducing fuels in the wildland urban interface: Community perceptions of agency fuels treatments.
- Becker, Dennis R.; McCaffrey, Sarah M.; Abbas, Dalia; Halvorsen, Kathleen E.; Jakes, Pamela; Moseley, Cassandra. 2011. Conventional wisdoms of woody biomass utilization on federal public lands.
- Winter, Greg; McCaffrey, Sarah; Vogt, Christine A. 2009. The role of community policies in defensible space compliance.
- Shindler, Bruce A.; Toman, Eric; McCaffrey, Sarah M. 2009. Public perspectives of fire, fuels, and the Forest Service in the Great Lakes Region: a survey of citizen-agency communication and trust.
- McCaffrey, Sarah M.; Rhodes, Alan. 2009. Public Response to Wildfire: Is the Australian "Stay and Defend or Leave Early" Approach an Option for Wildfire Management in the United States?.
Publications & Products
- Toman, Eric; Hix, David M.; Goebel, P. Charles; Gehrt, Stanley D.; Wilson, Robyn S.; Sherry, Jennifer A.; Silvis, Alexander; Nyamai, Priscilla; Williams, Roger A.; McCaffrey, Sarah. 2014. Hazardous fuels management in mixed red pine and eastern white pine forest in the northern Lake States: A synthesis of knowledge.
- Stidham, Melanie; McCaffrey, Sarah; Toman, Eric; Shindler, Bruce. 2014. Policy tools to encourage community-level defensible space in the United States: A tale of six communities.
- Toman, Eric; Shindler, Bruce; McCaffrey, Sarah; Bennett, James. 2014. Public acceptance of wildland fire and fuel management: Panel responses in seven locations.
- Steelman, Toddi A.; McCaffrey, Sarah. 2013. Best practices in risk and crisis communication: Implications for natural hazards management.
- McCaffrey, Sarah M.; Velez, Anne-Lise Knox; Briefel, Jason Alexander. 2013. Difference in information needs for wildfire evacuees and non-evacuees.
- McCaffrey, Sarah; Stidham, Melanie; Brenkert-Smith, Hannah. 2013. Little Bear Fire Summary Report.
- Brenkert-Smith, Hannah; McCaffrey, Sarah; Stidham, Melanie. 2013. Pine Ridge Fire summary report.
- Toman, Eric; Stidham, Melanie; McCaffrey, Sarah; Shindler, Bruce. 2013. Social science at the wildland-urban interface: a compendium of research results to create fire-adapted communities.
- McCaffrey, Sarah M.; Olsen, Christine S. 2012. Research perspectives on the public and fire management: a synthesis of current social science on eight essential questions.
- McCaffrey, Sarah M.; Toman, Eric; Stidham, Melanie; Shindler, Bruce. 2012. Social Science Research Related to Wildfire Management: An Overview of Recent Findings and Future Research Needs.
- Sundstrom, Shiloh; Nielsen-Pincus, Max; Moseley, Cassandra; McCaffrey, Sarah. 2012. Woody biomass utilization trends, barriers, and strategies: Perspectives of U.S. Forest Service managers.
- McCaffrey, Sarah M.; Fisher, Cherie LeBlanc, eds. 2011. Abstracts of proceedings of the second conference on the human dimensions of wildland fire.
- Vogt, Christine; McCaffrey, Sarah M.; Winter, Greg. 2011. Defensible space features: impact of voluntary versus mandatory programs on a homeowner's attitudes and actions.
- Stidham, Melanie; Toman, Eric; McCaffrey, Sarah M.; Schinder, Bruce. 2011. Improving an inherently stressful situation: the role of communication during wildfire evacuations.
- McCaffrey, Sarah M.; Stidham, Melanie; Toman, Eric; Shindler, Bruce. 2011. Outreach programs, peer pressure, and common sense: What motivates homeowners to mitigate wildfire risk?.
- McCaffrey, Sarah M.; Fisher, Cherie LeBlanc, eds. 2011. Proceedings of the second conference on the human dimensions of wildland fire.
- McCaffrey, Sarah M.; Winter, Greg. 2011. Understanding homeowner preparation and intended actions when threatened by a wildfire.
- Steelman, Toddi A.; McCaffrey, Sarah M. 2011. What is limiting more flexible fire management—public or agency pressure?.
- Black, Anne E.; Gebert, Krista; McCaffrey, Sarah; Steelman, Toddi; Canton-Thompson, Janie. 2009. A multi-disciplinary approach to fire management strategy, suppression costs, community interaction, and organizational performance.
- McCaffrey, Sarah. 2009. Crucial factors influencing public acceptance of fuels treatments.
- McCaffrey, Sarah; Moghaddas, Jason J.; Stephens, Scott L. 2008. Different interest group views of fuels treatments: survey results from fire and fire surrogate treatments in a Sierran mixed conifer forest, California, USA.
- Kwon, Jeamok; Vogt, Christine; Winter, Greg; McCaffrey, Sarah. 2008. Forest fuels treatments for wildlife management: do local recreation users agree?.
- Toman, Eric L.; Shindler, Bruce; Absher, Jim; McCaffrey, Sarah. 2008. Postfire communications: the influence of site visits on local support..
- Liou, Gwo-Bao; Vogt, Christine; Winter, Greg; McCaffrey, Sarah. 2008. Residents' values and fuels management approaches.
- McCaffrey, Sarah. 2008. The homeowner view of thinning methods for fire hazard reduction: more positive than many think.
- McCaffrey, Sarah. 2008. Understanding public perspectives of wildfire risk.
- Vogt, Christine; Winter, Greg; McCaffrey, Sarah. 2007. Community views of fuels management: are national forest local recreation users more supportive?.
- González-Cabán, Armando; Haynes, Richard W.; McCaffrey, Sarah; Mercer, Evan; Watson, Alan, tech. eds. 2007. Fire social science research–selected highlights..
- White, Rachel; McCaffrey, Sarah. 2007. Fuels planning: science synthesis and integration.
- McCaffrey, Sarah; Graham, Russell. 2007. Science information for informing forest fuel management in dry forests of the western United States.
- Sturtevant, Victoria; McCaffrey, Sarah. 2006. Encouraging Wildland Fire Preparedness: Lessons Learned from Three Wildfire Education Programs.
- McCaffrey, Sarah M. 2006. Prescribed fire: What influences public approval?.
- Winter, Greg; Vogt, Christine; McCaffrey, Sarah. 2006. Residents warming up to fuels management: homeowners? acceptance of wildfire and fuels management in the wildland-urban interface.
- Monroe, Martha C.; Pennisi, Lisa; McCaffrey, Sarah; Mileti, Dennis. 2006. Social science to improve fuels management: a synthesis of research relevant to communicating with homeowners about fuels management.
- McCaffrey, S.M. 2006. The public and wildland fire management: social science findings for managers.
- McCaffrey, Sarah. 2006. What does wildfire risk mean to the public?.
- McCaffrey, Sarah M. 2004. Fighting fire with education: what is the best way to reach out to homeowners?.
- McCafferey, Sarah. 2004. Incline Village, Nevada: Steps to improve community preparedness for wildfire..
- Graham, Russell T.; McCaffrey, Sarah; Jain, Theresa B. 2004. Science basis for changing forest structure to modify wildfire behavior and severity.
- Kent, Brian; Gebert, Krista; McCaffrey, Sarah; Martin, Wade; Calkin, David; Schuster, Ervin; Martin, Ingrid; Bender, Holly Wise; Alward, Greg; Kumagai, Yoshitaka; Cohn, Patricia J.; Carroll, Matt; Williams, Dan; Ekarius, Carol. 2004. Social and economic issues of the Hayman Fire.
- McCaffrey, Sarah. 2004. Thinking of Wildfire as a Natural Hazard.
- Kent, Brian; Gebert, Krista; McCaffrey, Sarah; Martin, Wade; Calkin, David; Schuster, Ervin; Martin, Ingrid; Bender, Holly Wise; Alward, Greg; Kumagai, Yoshitaka; Cohn, Patricia J.; Carroll, Matt; Williams, Daniel; Ekarius, Carol. 2003. Social and economic issues of the Hayman Fire.
- Dwyer, John F.; McCaffrey, Sarah M. 2002. The Wildland-Urban Interface: Increasing Significance, Complexity and Contribution.
National Research Highlights
|Impediments to Woody Biomass Utilization on Federal Lands|
Efforts to increase woody biomass utilization have met with limited succes
|Improving Knowledge of Public Information Needs During a Wildfire|
Although fire managers actively work to provide information to the public during wildfires, little research has been conducted to understand whe ...
|What Motivates Homeowners To Mitigate Fire Risk|
In working to foster fire-adapted communities, individuals and organization need to understand the dynamics of public support for fuels manageme ...