A Marketing Strategy for Wildland Fuel Reduction in Palm Coast, Florida

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By Mike Kuypers

Palm Coast, Florida, is a 42,000-acre planned residential community on the east coast of Florida characterized by large areas of intermix wildland/urban interface. A need for wildland fuel hazard mitigation has been identified; however a marketing strategy does not exist for implementation of wildland fuel reduction measures. The purpose of this research was to develop a marketing strategy that identifies acceptable fuel reduction methods and funding options for mitigating the wildfire hazard. Action research methods were used to answer the following questions:

  1. Are Palm Coast residents aware of the wildfire hazard in their development?
  2. What fuel reduction methods are available for use in Palm Coast?
  3. What fuel reduction measures are acceptable to homeowners and lot owners in Palm Coast?
  4. Are homeowners and lot owners willing to pay for acceptable fuel reduction measures?
  5. If they are willing to pay for fuel reduction measures, what methods for funding a fuel reduction program are preferred?

Surveys of lot owners and homeowners in selected portions of Palm Coast were performed to solicit their responses to questions designed to answer research questions one, three, four, and five. Research question two was answered by a review of the literature.

The findings of the research indicated that both homeowners and lot owners rated the wildfire threat in Palm Coast serious. Both lot owners and homeowners were willing to allow the use of prescribed burning, mechanical brush clearing, and overstory thinning of trees to mitigate the wildfire hazard. Both homeowners and lot owners were willing to pay for prescribed burning, but only homeowners were willing to pay for mechanical brush reduction. Concerning funding methods, direct billing for the service was the preferred method for homeowners, while for lot owners it was through ad valorem taxes. Lot owners preferred to keep any revenue from thinning trees from their property, but using the revenue to fund additional hazard reduction also was acceptable.

The following marketing strategy was proposed: 1) implement a prescribed burning program in areas where it can be done safely and efficiently; 2) use mechanical brush reduction in areas that cannot be prescribed burned; 3) use thinning in dense pine areas and use the timber sale revenue to fund other hazard reduction work (i.e., prescribed burning and mechanical fuel reduction).