The look of the land: Homeowner landscape management and wildfire preparedness in Minnesota and Florida

Kristen C Nelson, Martha C. Monroe, Jayne Fingerman Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Many forest and fire agencies seek to influence homeowners to manage vegetation near their home to reduce wildfire risk. To be successful managers need to understand the range of existing landscape typologies based on a defensible space evaluation, homeowners' activities for wildfire preparedness, and what they value in landscape attributes. Interviews and visits with 80 homeowners at risk of wildfire in the wildland-urban interface of northern Minnesota and central Florida reveal that respondents managed for "naturalness," valuing their privacy, wildlife, aesthetics, and recreation. Five landscape typologies in Minnesota and four in Florida ranged from wide-open spaces to homes nestled in the deep woods. The valuing of naturalness was most closely linked to the tendency for a deep woods landscape. Respondents noted that how they manage for what they value as well as the ecosystem they live in partially explained their behavior in creating defensible space around their homes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-336
Number of pages16
JournalSociety and Natural Resources
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank John Dwyer, Susan Stewart, Paul Gobster, Sarah McCaffrey, Herbert Schroeder, and Pam Jakes of the U.S. Forest Service, North Central Research Station in Evanston, IL, and St. Paul, MN, for their insightful questions and support. We recognize Monica Missrie, Alison Bowers, Larry Korhnak, Jane Inouye, Janice Easton, Cotton Randall, Pam Archer, and Mark Myers for providing invaluable assistance with photographs, data collection, identifying communities, and data organization. This research was funded in part by the U.S. Forest Service North Central Research Station, Minnesota Experiment Station, number MIN-42-033, and University of Florida–Florida Agricultural Research Station and Journal Series No. R-xxxx.


  • Defensible space
  • Homeowner behaviors
  • Landscape valuing
  • Vegetation management
  • Wildfire preparedness

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