Reducing firewood movement by the public: use of survey data to assess and improve efficacy of a regulatory and educational program, 2006-2015.
This paper describes a program of policy management and research from 2006 through 2015. It focuses on regulator efforts to understand and address challenges presented by dispersal of forest diseases and invasive pests in firewood by the camping public. Five surveys conducted at two-year intervals informed these efforts. The first survey in 2006 benchmarked campers' awareness of forest threats by invasive species, their evaluations of firewood supplied at and near Wisconsin state parks, and their compliance with firewood movement rules which had been implemented that year. The 2008 survey tested for improvements in awareness and compliance and investigated campers' motivations. The motivation research showed that calculated, normative, and social motivations are all important to rule compliance in the camping context. Surveys in 2010, 2012, and 2014 confirmed these results and guided education and outreach efforts, adjustments to firewood movement rules for Wisconsin state parks and forests, and improvements to firewood supplies at state campgrounds. The survey sequence as a whole revealed that: (1) compliance improves dramatically in early program years and then levels off, suggesting that it may be unrealistic and cost ineffective to strive for 100% compliance in similar regulatory contexts; (2) persistence in messaging is important in building awareness and motivation; and (3) regulation and persuasion based on motivational principles can extend beyond specific situations where informing and regulating take place, suggesting that public properties can be useful venues for encouraging other types of environmentally responsible behavior.