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315 Institutional Adaptation and Change in Collaborative Watershed Management: An Examination of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s Fish and Wildlife Program Tanya Heikkila and Andrea K. Gerlak Introduction Transboundary institutions, such as treaties, compacts, collaborative agreements, councils, and collaborative programs, have long been recognized as valuable mechanisms for addressing and resolving the conflicts and environmental problems that result from the use and allocation of water resources that cross multiple political jurisdictions, both regionally and internationally (Florestano 1994; Lubell et al. 2002;Wolf et al. 2003; Gerlak and Grant 2009). In the United States, such collaborative efforts have emerged in recent years across a number of the largest and most ecologically, economically, and culturally significant watersheds. They can be found in the marsh wetlands of the Florida Everglades, along the coast of Louisiana, in the Midwest’s Great Lakes region, and along the Pacific Northwest’s mighty Columbia River (Wiley and Canty 2003;Vigmostad et al. 2005; Heikkila and Gerlak 2005; Doyle and Drew 2008; Gerlak 2008). Such large-scale collaborative efforts bring together federal and state agencies, local agencies, industry, conservation groups, and other resource users to address problems that command-and-control approaches have failed to solve,such as habitat destruction and nonpoint source pollution (Wondolleck andYaffee 2003; Brick et al. 2001; Karkkainen 2002; Lubell et al. 2002; Koontz et al. 2004; McKinney and Harmon 2004; Sabatier et al.2005).The scope of these programs can be extensive— often seeking to restore entire ecosystems (e.g., a bay or river basin) while still maintaining economic stability and accommodating growing populations. A growing body of literature on watershed and collaborative environmental institutions has argued that the robustness of these types of institutions is predicated on their capacity to learn and adapt, thus allowing them to continue to respond to emerging environmental and political challenges (Dietz et al. 2003; Anderies et al. 2004; Scholtz and Stiftel 2005; Brunner and Steelman 2005). Political science scholars who study institutions in the environmental arena have similarly agreed that adaptability over time is necessary to allow an institution to retain its relevance and efficacy in the face of changing external conditions (Steinberg 2009; Scholtz and Stiftel 2005; Brunner and Steelman 2005).Yet, empirical evidence 316 Tanya Heikkila & Andrea K. Gerlak and examples of how such change and adaptation actually takes place is still in its infancy. In this chapter we examine institutional change within one of the oldest collaborative watershed management institutions in the United States—the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s Fish andWildlife Program along the Columbia River.The council and its program to mitigate the effects of hydropower on the health of fish and wildlife along the Columbia basin, was established under the congressionally authorized 1980 Northwest Power Act. The council is just one of many transboundary or collaborative institutions engaged in resource management, protection, or planning in the Columbia Basin; the Columbia River Compact, the Columbia Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, and various interagency tasks forces, committees, and councils also include different state, federal, tribal, and local agencies and stakeholders in basin management (United States General Accounting Office 2002).While the council does not represent the entire footprint of collaborative watershed governance in the Columbia River Basin, its longstanding presence and engagements with many of the various stakeholders and players in the basin does provide a well-structured and long-standing institutional setting within which we can examine how institutional change unfolds and how it responds to the complexities of the ecosystem and its larger institutional context. Analyzing institutional change and adaptation within this context is important not only for the contributions to the academic literature on watershed institutions and their robustness; it also has implications for regional watershed management in the Columbia.In a 1998 discussion paper,eighteen years after the Northwest Power and Conservation Council was established,the council noted: “The issues that face the region now are more complex and important than ever before, and they arise in a much different world than that of 1980 … There was broad agreement on the need for regional solutions to the problems of 1980. Is this still true in 1998 and beyond?” (Northwest Power and Conservation Council 1998). No doubt the challenges that existed in 1998 for regional planning have and will continue to increase, alongside the expected quadrupling of the region’s population by 2100 and the increasing competition for water resources, making the recovery of salmon species even more difficult (Lackey et al. 2006). Examining how the Council...


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