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Stakeholder understandings of wildfire mitigation: A case of shared and contested meanings

Posted date: September 18, 2012
Publication Year: 
Authors: Champ, Joseph G.; Brooks, Jeffrey J.; Williams, Daniel R.
Publication Series: 
Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Source: Environmental Management. 50: 581-597.


This article identifies and compares meanings of wildfire risk mitigation for stakeholders in the Front Range of Colorado, USA. We examine the case of a collaborative partnership sponsored by government agencies and directed to decrease hazardous fuels in interface areas. Data were collected by way of key informant interviews and focus groups. The analysis is guided by the Circuit of Culture model in communication research. We found both shared and differing meanings between members of this partnership (the "producers") and other stakeholders not formally in the partnership (the "consumers"). We conclude that those promoting the partnership's project to mitigate risk are primarily aligned with a discourse of scientific management. Stakeholders outside the partnership follow a discourse of community. We argue that failure to recognize and account for differences in the way risk mitigation is framed and related power dynamics could hamper the communicational efforts of the collaborative partnership and impact goals for fuels reduction. We recommend ways that both groups can capitalize on shared meanings and how agency managers and decision makers can build better working relationships with interface communities and other external stakeholders.


Champ, Joseph G.; Brooks, Jeffrey J.; Williams, Daniel R. 2012. Stakeholder understandings of wildfire mitigation: A case of shared and contested meanings. Environmental Management. 50: 581-597.