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Herding cats: grassroots and centralized organizing in the case of California's Fire Safe Councils

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Title: Herding cats: grassroots and centralized organizing in the case of California's Fire Safe Councils
Author: Fuller, Michelle Marie
Abstract: The wildland urban interface (WUI) is the zone where private development and public lands meet. The WUI has been growing drastically in the western United States, and losses from wildfires in this zone have been increasing as well. Federal land management agencies have the authority and capacity to act on public lands, but are challenged in addressing wildfire threats to bordering private lands. Community-based collaborative groups are a recognized model for utilizing local knowledge and incorporating community input to produce results in challenging natural resource management issues on both public and private lands. Fire safe councils in California are collaborative, community-based organizations that work to increase community awareness and preparedness for wildfire threats. Fire safe councils exist at multiple scales from the grassroots community group to countywide organization to the state-level California Fire Safe Council. Fire safe councils have just begun to be studied and the relationships among the councils not been addressed. This thesis explores grassroots, centralized, and networked models of organizational structure using the case of California’s fire safe councils as an application of community-based wildfire management. This study employed multiple qualitative research methods: participant observation, document analysis, interviews and interview coding and analysis. The varied responses paint a picture of a diverse grassroots movement and highlight the tensions that arise when a centralized organization comes onto the scene to organize for the same mission at the state level. Strengths and weaknesses for each model of organizing were analyzed as they applied to the case study of fire safe councils in California. Results highlight reasons grassroots groups are successful at the community-level and centralized organizations may struggle, as well as strengths that a centralized authority can bring and reasons to consider a networked structure.
Description: Thesis (M.S.)--Humboldt State University, Environment and Community, 2012
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2148/995
Date: 2012-05

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  • Masters Theses [874]
    A collection of selected Masters Theses in electronic format.

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