Watershed planning is an important focus of environmental protection efforts in many states. Still, how to involve the public in watershed planning remains controversial. This paper reports on research that used Q methodology to study how experienced watershed management planners and activists perceive the proper way to involve the public in decision-making. Four perspectives about how best to involve the public in watershed planning emerged. One emphasizes that a good process is credible and legitimate and that it maintains popular acceptance for outcomes. A second sees a good process as one that produces technically competent outcomes. A third focuses on the fairness of the process. A fourth perspective pays attention to educating people and promoting constructive discourse. Differences among these views suggest an important challenge for those responsible for designing and carrying out public participation processes. Conflicts may emerge about process designs because people disagree about what is appropriate in specific contexts.
Human Ecology Review
Required Publisher's Statement
Published by the Society for Human Ecology
Webler, Thomas and Tuler, Seth, "Public Participation in Watershed Management Planning: Views on Process from People in the Field" (2001). Environmental Studies. 8.