Agency Engagement with Stakeholder Collaborations, in Wildfire Policy and Beyond

Karen Bradshaw

In the windowless conference room of a drab building, roughly thirty people were waiting for a meeting to start. Several men sat in a tight bunch at a far end of the table, all wearing short-sleeve button down shirts, dark jeans, and work boots. These were the foresters. In the middle of the rectangular arrangement of tables sat a clump of wildlife biologists from the Forest Service. Two Forest Supervisors sat on opposite sides of the room, both in uniform. A collaboration expert in khakis and a polo shirt was nonchalantly checking his phone under the table. A researcher made her way around the room, touching the shoulder of various people as she spoke to them, her dolman sleeves fluttering behind her. After several minutes of casting furtive glances at me, a young reporter crossed the room to sit beside me. Once settled, she whispered: “Who are you? What are you doing here?” I whispered back, as I had many times in the months before, “I am here to watch the meeting, to learn about what this group does.” A few moments later, the meeting began.

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