Factors Influencing County Commissioners’ Decisions about Burn Bans in the Southern Plains, USA Academic Article uri icon


  • Woody plant encroachment in North American rangelands has led to calls for greater use of prescribed fire to reduce fuel loads and restore grazing productivity and grassland biodiversity. However, the use of prescribed fire during periods when woody plant mortality is maximized has often been limited by temporary restrictions on outdoor burning enacted by regional or local governmental entities. This study reports the results of a survey assessing the familiarity with and attitudes toward prescribed fire in Texas and Oklahoma, USA, of officials tasked with implementing restrictions on outdoor burning and how these attitudes influence their decisions. Most responding officials considered prescribed fire to be a safe and beneficial land management tool that should be used more frequently. Self-reported familiarity with prescribed fire was the most significant explanatory variable for this attitude. Further, familiarity with prescribed fire was influenced by respondent participation in or being invited to participate in a prescribed fire. Such invitations came mostly from private landowners. Landowners wishing to use prescribed fire may benefit from building trust with local officials by demonstrating they are qualified to conduct such fires safely. This could help reduce the frequency of burn restrictions and may increase the likelihood that officials will grant burn ban exemptions to qualified burn managers. Additionally, because officials’ primary sources of prescribed fire information were reported to be local fire departments and emergency services, educating those entities about the benefits of prescribed fire for reducing wildfire risks could help reduce pressure on officials to enact or maintain burning restrictions. These findings highlight opportunities for reducing the frequency of burning restrictions, increasing opportunities for land managers to effectively halt or reverse woody plant encroachment.

published proceedings

  • Land

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • McDaniel, T. W., Wonkka, C. L., Treadwell, M. L., & Kreuter, U. P.

citation count

  • 1

complete list of authors

  • McDaniel, Thomas W||Wonkka, Carissa L||Treadwell, Morgan L||Kreuter, Urs P

publication date

  • June 2021

published in