Understanding elements contributing to the collaborative development of community wildfire protection plans
Staychock, Emily Saeli
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The occurrence of large-scale catastrophic wildfires in recent years led to a change in national wildfire policies. Policies such as the National Fire Plan (NFP) (2000) and the Healthy Forest Restoration Act (HFRA) (2003) mandate collaboration between federal, state, and local stakeholders in addressing wildfire mitigation across a landscape scale. These policies contain behavioral assumptions that stakeholder groups will collaborate due to the influence of policy tools inherent in the policies. However, these policies do not provide the capacity policy tools necessary to facilitate collaboration between stakeholders in addressing wildfire mitigation planning, particularly Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPP) which were introduced by the HFRA. This study is an empirical examination of three CWPP development processes in Colorado. The goal of this study was to uncover: 1) the types of capacities required for collaborative CWPP development; and 2) the role of intermediaries in facilitating collaborative capacity building. Our results demonstrated that collaborative CWPP development requires a range of specific capacities, including networks, human capital, and collaborative learning. We discovered that collaborative capacity was not facilitated by external intermediary organizations, but instead that there was an ad hoc emergence of intermediary roles and functions filled by actors in the CWPP development process. A key lesson learned in this study is that actors embarking on a CWPP development process should act strategically in recognizing the required capacities in advance, leveraging and maximizing capacities already present, and accessing resources to fill capacity gaps. This study provides evidence that the goals of the NFP and HFRA are being met.