• Up in smoke: exploring the relationship between forest firefighting and subsistence harvest

      Rodrigues, Alyssa V. S.; Little, Joseph; Greenberg, Joshua; Trainor, Sarah; Brinkman, Todd J. (2018-05)
      Wildland firefighting in Alaska is changing due to the impact of climate change on the boreal forest. Changes to the wildland firefighting regime could have significant impacts on community participation during fall subsistence hunting and, consequentially, food security levels. Many rural Alaska communities have mixed cash-subsistence economies in which people have to balance their time between earning an income and harvesting subsistence foods. Cash income is necessary to pay for things such as housing, electricity, gasoline, gun, ammunition, and other capital necessary to engage in subsistence. This dissertation aims to better understand the current relationship between Type 2, or hand crew, wildland firefighting and subsistence, primarily fall subsistence hunting, through several methods. Surveys and interviews were conducted with Type 2 wildland firefighters followed by policy recommendations. Econometric modeling of the wildfire attributes, community attributes, and firefighting wages and dispatches was conducted. Lastly, a food production simulation was conducted. Utilizing these various methods gives a well-rounded understanding of the relationship between firefighting and subsistence. Firefighting wages currently contribute to subsistence harvest productivity. As climate change lengthens the fire season, rural Type 2 fire crews will continue to participate in firefighting and fall subsistence hunting. Only under the most extreme estimates of future wildland fires does time spent fighting fire reduce time spent on subsistence fall hunting by much so that rural communities are unable to meet their subsistence needs.