Outcome-based approaches for managing wildfire risk: Institutional interactions and implementation within the “Gray Zone”

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This paper examines administrative policies and barriers to using outcome-based approaches to manage fire risk in Idaho through 70 semistructured interviews with permittees, BLM staff, and other agency and nongovernmental stakeholders in three Idaho BLM field areas. We analyzed how rules and norms in policy implementation contributed to perceptions of barriers within and among different field areas. Factors affecting perceptions of outcome-based rangeland management implementation included BLM staff tenure, permittee-agency relationships, beliefs about the efficacy of grazing to manage fire risk, and leadership and staff experience in navigating National Environmental Policy Act requirements or potential lawsuits. Differences in the informal institutions among field areas led to different interpretations of latitude found within formal institutions (“gray zones”) for implementation. This study highlights the importance of local context and the interactions between administrative policies and agency culture for implementing adaptive approaches to managing wildfire risk on public rangelands.

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