Embracing Watershed Politics
Publication Year: 2008
As Americans try to better manage and protect the natural resources of our watersheds, is politics getting in the way? Why does watershed management end up being so political? In Embracing Watershed Politics, political scientists Edella Schlager and William Blomquist provide timely illustrations and thought-provoking explanations of why political considerations are essential, unavoidable, and in some ways even desirable elements of decision making about water and watersheds. With decades of combined study of water management in the United States, they focus on the many contending interests and communities found in America's watersheds, the fundamental dimensions of decision making, and the impacts of science, complexity, and uncertainty on watershed management. Enriched by case studies of the organizations and decision making processes in several major U.S. watersheds (the Delaware River Basin, San Gabriel River, Platte River, and the Columbia River Basin), Embracing Watershed Politics presents a reasoned explanation of why there are so few watershed-scale integrated management agencies and how the more diverse multi-organizational arrangements found in the vast majorities of watersheds work. Although the presence of multiple organizations representing a multitude of communities of interest complicates watershed management, these institutional arrangements can - under certain conditions - suit the complexity and uncertainty associated with watershed management in the twenty-first century.
Published by: University Press of Colorado
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Who gets to participate in decision making and how, on what scale and with what processes and through what organizational forms, and toward what ends and with what means of evaluation and change are fundamental components, indeed, and the focus of this book. They are fundamental questions of resource management, and they are the fundamental questions of politics. ...
1. Complex Landscapes: Watersheds and Institutions
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Every watershed has a physical landscape—a complex terrain of landforms, water resources, vegetation, animals and their habitats, human beings and the structures they have built. Every watershed has an institutional landscape, too—a complex but largely invisible terrain of rules and organizations that govern and affect human choices about the making of decisions, the use of ...
2. Watersheds, Politics, and Institutions: Past and Present Assessments
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The research and policy literature on watershed management expanded rapidly from the late 1980s to the present, as has the number of initiatives undertaken in the United States to create watershed-based efforts at resource management. The concept has shown great appeal among academics and policy makers (Walther 1987, 439; Milon, Kiker, and Lee 1998, ...
3. The Essentials of Watershed Politics: Boundaries, Decision Making, and Accountability
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The political choices that people confront in governing watersheds include deciding how to structure the governing institutions and organizations, who will participate in making decisions, how decisions will be made, and how decision makers will be held accountable. Several watershed writers accept politics as a given but express a weariness with existing political choices and ...
4. Imaginary Watersheds and Political Realities
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As discussed in Chapter 2, for more than a century, the U.S. government, at various times, has attempted to organize large-scale river basin entities to coordinate and manage the activities of federal and state agencies. Many of these efforts, especially of a national scope, such as the Title II river basin commissions, have failed for a variety of political reasons—turf wars among ...
5. Multiple Goals, Communities, and Organizations: A Watershed Political Economy
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As we have mentioned in previous chapters, the popularity of watershed management has grown as other values and goals have emerged alongside more traditional ones, such as water supply development and flood control. In this chapter, we draw together those goals and values for a closer look and focus on some organizational issues associated with the effort to pursue ...
6. Federalism and Watershed Governance
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As described in Chapter 1, many natural scientists and policy analysts accept that most natural systems, such as watersheds, are complex adaptive systems. These systems do not need to be simplified and managed for one or two values, their complexity is to be recognized, protected, and respected. The same thinking, however, has not pervaded the social sciences concerning water-...
7. A Rational Experience?
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In the preceding chapters, we have paired analytical discussions of political topics in watershed management with case studies of the institutions that currently exist in certain locations in the United States. We begin this closing chapter with a consideration of those case studies as a group—what their similarities and differences reveal and how those lessons relate to the broader ...
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Page Count: 248
Illustrations: 5 maps, 2 tables
Publication Year: 2008