An Evaluation of the 2020 Wildfire Season
Oregon Health Authority and the University of Oregon partnered to conduct a survey-based evaluation of wildfire smoke communications and impacts experienced by Oregon residents during the 2020 wildfire season.
- understand how Oregonians respond to wildfire smoke
- provide an open-source evaluation tool and data to support wildfire smoke communication practitioners in Oregon.
The evaluation is intended to guide improvement of public risk communication, programs, and recommendations, and to inform practitioners and staff at public agencies (public health, emergency management, natural resource management), academics, and community members about key findings and recommendations from the survey related to:
- patterns and correlations surrounding information sources and needs.
- patterns around health behaviors related to preventing smoke exposure.
- information relevant for raising awareness and preparedness of specific risk groups.
- potential areas and questions for future research.
In partnership with Oregon Health Authority (OHA), faculty from the University of Oregon (UO) Ecosystem Workforce Program (EWP) and the Institute for Policy Research and Engagement (IPRE) designed and implemented the survey. Questions were reviewed and edited by members of the Smoke Ready Communities Group (see information below).
Survey questions are archived and available online at the UO Scholars’ Bank.
Survey had 1,200 total responses:
Smoke Ready Communities Group
Oregon State University Forestry and Natural Resources Extension formed the Smoke Ready Communities Group (SRC) to identify how Oregonians access information about smoke, what educational information and resources exist and how well they meet Oregonians’ needs, and what mechanisms/media work best for Oregonians impacted by smoke (including when they are displaced by fire evacuations).
The SRC has become a community of practice and interest where public health, environmental quality, researchers and outreach educators connect regularly to keep each other informed of needs and opportunities. In 2021 the group focused on networking and needs identification, and in 2022 on review of existing educational materials and development of new materials to fill any identified gaps, and developing processes to utilize Oregonians’ preferred media and outreach mechanisms.
The SRC has learned much about the Oregonians’ smoke related information needs, and will continue meeting in 2023, facilitated by the University of Oregon’s Ecosystem Workforce Program.