Achieving Adaptive Governance of Forest Wildfire Risk Using Competitive Grants: Insights from the Colorado Risk Reduction Grant Program

Cheng, Anthony S.; Dale, Lisa Allyn

Competitive grants are increasingly used to induce proactive collaborative action by a range of actors to reduce forest wildfire risks. Given the rigidity of past wildfire risk governance, it is important to assess the adaptability of competitive grants as a new governance approach. Adaptive governance theory is used as a lens to assess the adaptability of the Colorado Wildfire Risk Reduction Grant (WRRG) program, which awards funds to successful applicants to reduce fuel on non-federal lands at a community scale. Four best practices from the theory were applied: participation of and collaboration among diverse actors; co-produc- tion of knowledge and learning toward adaptive management; cross-scale interactions and fit between the scale of governance and the scale of the ecological problem; and the capacity for innovation and re-organi- zation. Using data and information about the WRRG structure and processes, awarded grantees from the first five granting cycles from 2013 to 2016, our direct participation-observation as part of the Advisory Committee, and results from the WRRG effectiveness monitoring report, we examine the extent to which the WRRG program exhibited adaptive governance attributes. For each adaptive governance attribute, we found evidence of factors facilitating and frustrating adaptiveness of the WRRG program. We situate our findings within the broader context of using competitive grants as a forest wildfire risk governance approach and address additional directions for adaptive governance research.


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Review of Policy Research

More About This Work

Academic Units
Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology
Published Here
July 21, 2022