The Rich Go Higher: The Political Ecology of Forestry, Fire, and the Wildland-urban Interface in Northern Utah

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Title: The Rich Go Higher: The Political Ecology of Forestry, Fire, and the Wildland-urban Interface in Northern Utah
Author: Roberts, Jason Steadman
Advisors: Fred Cubbage, Committee Member
Jerry Jacka, Committee Chair
Nora Haenn, Committee Member
Abstract: Abstract Roberts, Jason S. “The Rich Go Higher†: The Political Ecology of Forestry, Fire, and the Wildland-urban Interface in Northern Utah. (Under the Direction of Dr. Jerry Jacka). In the years following the National Fire Plan and the Healthy Forests Restoration Act, mechanical fuels reduction has become an accepted and favored fire prevention practice in interface communities as public funds have become available to subsidize the protection of private lands. However, based on ethnographic fieldwork, it is apparent that fuels reduction in these areas is often constrained by a tension between aesthetics and functionality that precludes the complete accomplishment of management objectives. The allocation and use of public funds in private, primarily affluent communities therefore reveals sharp socioeconomic differences in both accessibility to and control of nature. The wildland-urban interface is yet another example of the ways in which powerful, political economic interests actively define nature for the purposes of their own consumption. In this thesis, I explore the current state of fire management in the wildland-urban interface through participant observation while working on a brush removal crew for the state of Utah. I argue that the members of the brush removal crew, while seemingly working to prevent fires from breaching the wildland-urban interface, are actually engaged in the maintenance of social hierarchy through paid conformance with an upper class landscape ethic.
Date: 2009-04-13
Degree: MA
Discipline: Anthropology
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/993


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