Prior to implementing laws and policies regulating water, wildlife, wetlands, endangered species, and recreation, natural resource managers often solicit public input. Concomitantly, managers are continually seeking more effective ways to involve stakeholders. In the autumn of 1999, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department sought to develop a state management plan for its portion of the Yellowstone grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) population if it was removed from the federal threatened species list. A key aspect of developing this plan was the involvement of federal, state, and local agencies, representatives from nongovernmental organizations, and citizens. Wyoming wildlife managers asked researchers from the United States Geological Survey to demonstrate how the Legal-Institutional Analysis Model could be used to initiate this process. To address these needs, we conducted similar workshops for a group of state and federal managers or staffers and a broad group of stakeholders. Although we found similarities among the workshop groups, we also recorded differences in perspective between stakeholder groups. The managers group acknowledged the importance of varied stakeholders but viewed the grizzly bear planning process as one centered on state interests, influenced by state policies, and amenable to negotiation. The other workshops identified many stakeholders and viewed the decision process as diffuse, with many opportunities for entry into the process. These latter groups were less certain about the chance for a successful negotiation. We concluded that if these assumptions and differences were not reconciled, the public involvement effort was not likely to succeed.
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Vol. 34 • No. 5