Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
A team of individuals representing a variety of river-related agencies and NGOs convened on 30 November 1998 in St. Paul to discuss approaches for incorporating public and institutional perspectives in the EMP's Habitat Needs Assessment. These individuals were invited by the Corps of Engineers based on their experience with integrating public input and natural resource management activities. A list of attendees follows the main text of this memo.
The intent of this memo is to capture the main points of the meeting, focusing on the four goals that had been established prior to the meeting. Future tasks for the HNA PI effort are also identified.
1) Brainstorm and detail approach to identifying "desired future habitat conditions" for the public and institutional perspectives - see detailed items below
The following points received general agreement:
- Public perspectives on "desired future habitat conditions" should be sought in two stages (one group member summed it up as "moving from principles to maps"):
- first stage - "blank slate" approach (that is, not reacting to a set of products) centered on a "core" 3 question approach (similar to Everglades). The idea is to have a "lowest common denominator" exercise suitable for a variety of forums (which may or may not involve more detailed exercises). That way we will get at least one set of common indicators for all groups and settings, while keeping the door open for more detailed involvement by groups that have more knowledge or motivation
- second stage - Reaction/response to initial findings of Technical Group using maps, etc. to react to. Attempting to reach the same people was encouraged.
- The "three questions" need to be developed and considered by the PI team. The three questions used in the Everglades were variants on the following:
- - What are the important resources in the Everglades?
- - What are the problems and opportunities here?
- - What will success look like?
- Identifying "publics" needs to be accomplished by the PI team. Outreach to groups not typically reached (youth, urban core) should be considered as well as more traditional "river" publics. David Thorne suggested all groups fall into one of the following three categories:
- - General Public
- - Potentially Affected Interests (various groups)
- - Youth
- Trying to reach people where they gather (association meetings, for example) could increase the efficiency and representation for many stakeholder groups.
- We need to recognize and include public involvement work that has already been accomplished - GREAT, MNRRA, Illinois River Initiative, EMP RTC, past surveys, local/regional level planning (park boards), etc. (This relates to a "boundary issue" for the PI team - perspectives from the agencies should be represented by folks participating in the Technical Group, but we need to keep watching this boundary to avoid stuff falling though the cracks)
- Gathering secondary data about institutions and their relevant initiatives would be helpful, but a clear direction was not identified in the meeting. This item was described as important for identifying "where the momentum is" with respect to current actions/directions on the river.
2) Identify any similar efforts that might be suitable for joint efforts - "resource leveraging" - such as the UMRCC/Audubon public meetings
There seemed to be plenty of enthusiasm for this prospect. I list the examples I can remember below, recognizing that I may have missed some. Identifying the various publics (one of our next tasks) should go "hand in hand" with identifying other possible cooperative forums.
- We will be cooperating with the UMRCC/Audubon (Dan McGuiness) meetings by including at least the "3 question exercise" as part of those meetings. Dan's meetings are expected to attract more knowledgeable river folks who will also be encouraged to "draw on the maps".
- David Thorne is considering adding the "3 questions" to recreation survey efforts that Missouri is already planning.
- Tom Larson suggested possible tie-ins with USFWS's development of comprehensive management plans for the refuges (at least those on the river - Mark Twain, Upper Miss, MN Valley, Illinois River).
- "Youth" contact could benefit from existing initiatives in schools in the basin (Dan Ray and Ron Yarborough have contacts).
- We may be able to benefit from institutional analysis being conducted for the American Heritage Rivers initiative (BC must check).
3) Identify qualified individuals to implement our plan (hopefully many of the PI Team members can help)
4) Establish a mechanism for future PI Team interaction
I believe we've got "handshake deals" with everyone who attended the meeting to keep in contact by e-mail and telephone through the process of developing an approach, which will involve providing input and feedback on the "immediate tasks" below.
I'm hoping to formalize this group with the help of the HNA management team and the 5 state appointed points-of-contact to keep people involved at to-be-determined levels of involvement through the "later tasks" and the duration of the HNA process.
- Identify the "publics" (TEAM TASK)
- Develop the three questions (TEAM TASK)
- Define PI team more formally (COE TASK)
- Check for alignment between PI Group and Technical Group (COE TASK)
- Add Audubon dates/locations for Illinois River (COE/AUDUBON TASK)
- Refine task descriptions in HNA scope of work
- Selecting forums for involvement
- Publicizing to get more participation
- Logistics for meetings, etc.
- "Staffing" meetings, etc. with qualified folks
- Determine extent of secondary "institutional" analysis
BOUNDARY ISSUES (overall HNA management)
- Discuss relationship between "data collection" PI activities and "information out" PI activities that may be more appropriate for the broader EMP management
- Monitor approaches being developed by "public" and "technical" groups to assure best possible fit
MISCELLANEOUS COMMENTS AND TIDBITS OF WISDOM GLEANED FROM THE MEETING:
- Managing expectations among participating planners and general public will be important and difficult - what HNA is, isn't, & where this distinction is or isn't as important
- Motivating the public to participate will be tricky since we cannot really tell them how the information will specifically be used - other than informing various decision makers…
- There is no true "blank slate" on the UMRS since there is a long history of planning on the river but using a framework of "Don't start with boundaries - let the planners worry about those…" was seen as the best way to engage the public. In the broader effort, however, we cannot make the mistake of ignoring past efforts.
- Do NOT use the term "desired future conditions" with the public - too obtuse - We must avoid too much technical detail or we'll lose everyone (even reasonably knowledgeable folks like us…)
- Get people thinking about building on their assets, rather than focusing on weaknesses or threats (community development approach)
- The large group process discussed by Ken Orth needs 50 people or more to work out; the three questions can be presented in other ways, however, which adds to the flexibility of this approach.
- Recording Zip Code to associate with responses was encouraged for at least two reasons - to see geographic coverage of participation (identify gaps); to see if there are geographic patterns in responses.
ATTENDANCE LIST: An attendance list with phone numbers, etc. was distributed at the meeting. I list names and organization only here:
Dan McGuiness, Audubon Society
Dan Wilcox, COE St. Paul
Gretchen Bonfert, Green Strategies (under contract to Illinois)
Holly Stoerker, Upper Miss River Basin Association
Bruce Hawkinson, MN DNR
Mike Thompson, COE St. Louis
Tom Larson, USFWS
Ken Orth, COE IWR, Wash. D.C.
David Thorne, MO DOC
Ed Nelson, WI DNR
Ron Yarborough, COE St. Louis
Bob Clevenstine, USFWS
Tim Sullivan, Miss River Basin Alliance
Dan Ray, McKnight Foundation
Bruce Carlson, COE St. Paul