Environmental Conflict Management


Tracylee Clarke & Tarla Rai Peterson

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    To Leslie Agustus Clarke

    List of Boxes

    Chapter 1


    Environmental Conflict Management (ECM) is an interdisciplinary textbook focused on the process of managing environmental conflict. It provides not only an introduction to environmental conflict management and policy development, but also lays out a process for understanding and managing conflict and a review of the most relevant laws and policies.

    We provide a theoretical framework grounded in the direct application of concepts to case studies through exercises, worksheets, and role plays, including techniques for public involvement and community outreach, strategies for negotiating options, and methodologies for communicating concerns and working through differences. We also include additional references so you may explore the conceptual foundations more deeply.

    Environmental conflict management is a process that begins with an assessment of the situation and continues through ratification of agreements. Our textbook is organized in the same format that collaborative management of an environmental conflict is conducted. We begin with introductory chapters and then move through the process of managing and resolving environmental conflict. Each chapter is organized by first introducing and explaining a specific concept or process step and then providing exercises and cases that guide you through the application of what you are learning. Chapter 1 has an overview of environmental conflict and its relationship with the larger field of conflict studies. Chapter 2 previews the concept of collaboration and explains how it guides our approach to conflict management. Chapter 3 summarizes the history of environmental laws, policies, and basic principles of environmental policy formation and implementation in the United States (i.e. NEPA, ESA). It also provides a sampling of relevant international laws and policies. Chapter 4 outlines the first step in an environmental conflict management process, or initiating a process. A general overview of a collaborative process is given and the benefits of using a third-party neutral are discussed. Chapter 5 focuses on assessment of environmental conflict for an analysis of collaborative potential. Chapter 6 outlines how to design a collaborative process and engage stakeholders in policy development. Chapter 7 explains how to design a public involvement strategy to engage the general public. Chapter 8 explains some of the techniques for working with stakeholders, developing a group charter, and how to plan for and manage meeting dynamics. Chapter 9 reviews the process of decision making from goal setting to the ratification of an agreement. Chapter 10 reviews necessary techniques for communication capacity building as well as addressing critical cultural dynamics. Chapter 11 focuses on implementation of a ratified agreement and evaluation of the process. Finally, Chapter 12 discusses the importance of sustaining positive relationships after the conclusion of the formal process.


    This book is a culmination of years of practice, research, and teaching that involved engagement, support, and contributions from many people.

    First of all, we would like to acknowledge and thank the graduate and undergraduate students who have helped us refine some of our ideas, especially Paulami Banerjee, Rena Barbosa, Kendall Barrett, Leigh Bernacchi, Kaitlin Dawson, Sequoia Hill, Cristi Horton, Sarah Ip, Lacy Lopez, Chara Ragland, Jo Ann Roettgen, Adrienne Strubb, Joseph Vasquez, and Erica Von Essen.

    Our families have provided multiple different kinds of support throughout this process. We are so very appreciative of Chad Clarke, Darren Clarke, Doug Clarke, Kenny Clarke, Rick Clarke, Telesa Steedman, Velma Clarke, Leslie Clarke, Markus Peterson, Nils Peterson, Wayne Peterson, and Scott Peterson.

    We especially appreciate the colleagues who gave generously of their time to provide the “Voices From the Field” cases placed throughout the book. Their insight helped contextualize many concepts and ideas in real time. Other academic colleagues whose contributions have been especially helpful include Hanna Bergeå, Anabela Carvalho, Christine Oravec, Steve Daniels, Danielle Endres, Andrea Feldpausch-Parker, Cristián Alarcón Ferrari, Lars Hallgren, Hans Peter Hansen, Leonard Hawes, Robert L. Ivie, Todd Norton, Kaisa Raitio, Donald Rodriguez, Michael Salvador, Julie Schutten, Susan Senecah, Jessica Thompson, Nadarajah Sriskandarajah, and Gregg Walker.

    A book such as this one requires its authors to draw from a broad spectrum of experience extending beyond the academy into various societal organizations. Numerous organizations have provided us with opportunities to further refine the practices described in this book. They include both government agencies responsible for managing natural resources and nongovernmental organizations that advocate for various environmental policies.

    We are grateful to the following reviewers for their insight and guidance as our manuscript came together:

    • Deserai A. Crow, University of Colorado Boulder
    • Stephen Depoe, University of Cincinnati
    • Larry A Erbert, University of Colorado Denver
    • Florian Fiebelkorn, University of Osnabrück
    • Rebekah L. Fox, Texas State University
    • Jeffrey W. Kassing, Arizona State University
    • Richard Kotter, Northumbria University
    • Bonnie McEwan, The New School
    • Jane Bloodworth Rowe, Old Dominion University
    • Robbie Smyth, Griffith College Dublin
    • Leah Sprain, University of Colorado Boulder

    Finally, we have received institutional support from colleagues in the Environmental Communication Program at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and the Communication, Environmental Science and Resource Management, and Political Science Programs at California State University Channel Islands. Development of this book was funded in part through numerous internal grants from the Arts and Science Division and Project Vista at California State University Channel Islands and we are grateful for their financial support.

    We feel fortunate to have been able to meet and engage with many wonderful and insightful people through our work in environmental conflict. While they have been generous with their time and knowledge, all errors that remain in this manuscript are the authors’ alone.

  • Appendix A: Application Case Studies

    Case Study 1: Sandspit Watershed Committee

    This case study addresses the management of salmon fishing in British Columbia touching on issues such as endangered species, environmental justice, tourism, economic development, water quality, policy regulation, and international relations.

    Background Information

    One of the most enduring icons of the Pacific Northwest, Pacific salmon have been the lifeblood of generations of fishermen and are an integral part of communities up and down the West Coast. Salmon are anadromous, which means they are born in fresh water but migrate to the oceans to mature. The Sandspit Watershed is the second largest producer of Pacific salmon in British Columbia, Canada. The life cycle of salmon, their dependence on freshwater for spawning, and their long migration and stay at sea makes them the target of a wide range of users. The challenges of managing this fishery, involving a diversity of stocks with both healthy and vulnerable populations, and a complex chemistry of competing interests has given rise to turmoil, anger, and recrimination. Several species of hatchery fish were introduced into the Columbia River to mitigate the economic loss caused by dams to commercial salmon harvest. Extensive efforts to preserve the wild fish have not worked well and some populations of wild fish have declined to where they are now protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Recovery of these ESA fish is an important factor in any proposal for fish management. A problem arises with the harvest of hatchery fish that are comingled with ESA protected fish. Even with abundant hatchery fish, fishing opportunity is controlled by the impact on ESA fish which necessarily has to be very low. After years of angry confrontation, the parties in the dispute are unable to resolve the issue. The legislature is unable to spend the time to resolve such a complex technical issue and the result has been to maintain the status quo. There is little trust between the various groups; however, various parties have been called together to foster communication and cooperation among the parties in order to conserve, protect, and rebuild the salmonoid resources of the Sandspit Watershed through a process of consensus decision making. Among the issues to be discussed are health, access and fishing rights, and use of the salmon.


    A preliminary list of stakeholders includes the following:

    • The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO): As the agency in charge of salmon regulation, your main concern is the life and health of the salmon.
    • The Province of British Columbia: As a political entity, you are concerned for the rights of your constituents as well as the economic welfare of your province.
    • The First Nations of the Sandspit Watershed: These native tribes not only rely on salmon as their main sustenance, but place high cultural and symbolic value on them as well. Treaty rights guarantee them full access and do not limit their take. As an indigenous culture, they feel that they have first rights to the salmon.
    • Aqua Corp: Aqua Corp Power Company owns a majority of damns on the Columbia River and provides about two-thirds of the regional power requirements of the Pacific Northwest.
    • The Sandspit River commercial salmon industry: This industry relies on salmon fishing as their main source of income. The commercial fishermen do not feel their access can be compromised.
    • The Sandspit River sport fishermen: These fishermen rely on the salmon for recreational fishing and are members of the various organizations of sports fishermen. They feel that it is unfair that tribal members are allowed, what seems to them, unlimited access.
    • Salmonwatch: A nongovernmental organization concerned with the health and treatment of salmon. They understand tribal fishing rights but represent community citizens who feel those fishing rights have been abused.
    Facts and Data

    For the past 20 years, the department of fisheries has operated an experiment called Select Area Fisheries Enhancement (SAFE) to imprint juvenile fish in the bays and estuaries of the lower Columbia. These fish are harvested by nets that capture 95% of all the returning hatchery fish with almost no impact to ESA fish. A new bill has been proposed (HB 2734) that would move more hatchery fish to the SAFE areas and restrict netting to these areas. Those who support the bill argue the approximately 80 Oregon commercial fishermen in the Columbia would get as many or more fish as permitted today but with little or no impact to wild fish. The continued use of nets is needed to minimize the numbers of straying fish. The economic impact of the change proposed by HB 2734 to the commercial industry and our ability to buy salmon in a restaurant or a supermarket is neutral or positive.

    Salmon issues can be confusing because there are seven species and several key river systems, each with their own management issues. In addition, some of the species have genetic variants that return to the rivers at different times of the year. This adds additional complexity for fish management in rivers like the Columbia, as some stakeholders and the general public group all salmon together.

    The First Nations tribe just put out a statement to the press. It reads,

    It is the policy of the confederated First Nation tribes that the health of the Columbia Basin and the Pacific Ocean be restored, and that all salmon and other native fish species be restored to the same population levels and to all rivers in which they lived prior to the treaty of 1855. We hereby declare that a state of emergency exists in the Columbia Basin and Pacific Ocean which requires immediate action.

    Case Study 2: Woodpecker County Water Supply

    This case study addresses water quality in Woodpecker County, Texas, touching on issues such as quantity, quality, use, water rights, economic development, land use planning, environmental justice, and policy regulation.

    Background Information

    Woodpecker County, Texas, had been a rural area with a population of about 15,000 since the mid-1950s. The county’s surface water was fully allocated by 1954. Since then, additional water has been provided by the Pecan aquifer, which underlies most of the county.

    During the 1980s and 1990s, the county’s population grew. People can buy property in Woodpecker County for less than half the cost of neighboring Osprey County. Therefore, many people who work in Osprey County but cannot afford to live there reside in Woodpecker County. These residents tend to have lower-than-average incomes, and most are young families with school-aged children. This means that Woodpecker County has an increased need for infrastructure without a matching increase in the tax base.

    Approximately 30,000 people live in the county now. Just over 25,000 of those live in Jasperville (the county seat), Grandview, and Idenheim, three communities that grew up along the old railroad line. Fewer than 4,000 people live on small rural acreages that produce premium quality tomatoes, cucumbers, and other truck crops for regional markets. The remaining residents raise livestock on large ranches. Despite steady industrial growth in neighboring Osprey County, unemployment in all three Woodpecker County communities has risen steadily during the last decade. The three grade schools are seriously overcrowded, the county high school is at risk of losing its state accreditation, and street repairs have been put on hold.

    Residents have responded to the economic squeeze in different ways. Members of the Jasperville Chamber of Commerce formed the Jasperville Economic Development Council (EDC). With the support of the city and the commission, Jasperville’s EDC has approached ACME Corporation, a nationwide company that builds and manages retirement communities, regarding a purchase by ACME of 150 acres of the Old Dirkson Farm from the county and has drawn up plans for a retirement center. The Dirkson family, a prominent family in the area, donated their farm to Woodpecker County and Jasperville in 1949 (while retaining 49% of ownership rights). Although the property had been turned into a community park, over the years it has become run-down and more of a liability than an asset.

    The retirement center consists of a 60-unit condominium complex called Sunnydale. The plan calls for a 36-unit, 6-story tower and three 8-unit single story structures; a restaurant; and recreational facilities, including two tennis courts, indoor and outdoor pools, and a golf course. The condominiums are designed primarily for middle-to upper-income retirees.

    Although both the county commission and the city council approved the proposal unanimously, members of the community are concerned about the impact of the new development on the area’s water supply. A group of concerned farmers in the area protested the proposal, arguing that the new development would put Woodpecker County’s family farmers out of business. At a recent community meeting, a dozen produce farmers testified that the deep wells called for in ACME’s plan would cause their more shallow wells to go dry. Although Woodpecker County has rich soil, the farmers cannot continue to produce crops without a certain amount of irrigation. Another shallow well in danger of becoming nonfunctional is the one on the Dirkson property (originally dug by the Dirksons), which is used to irrigate the park and supply water for public restrooms and a drinking fountain.


    A preliminary list of stakeholders includes the following:

    • ACME: Your interests lie in the development of Sunnydale retirement center. Woodpecker County is ideal for the development of an older community, as its warm weather and temperate climate are attractive to snowbirds from northern states. There also already exist community organizations and clubs geared toward involving older community citizens.
    • Jasperville’s Economic Development Council (EDC): Your interests lie in the economic development of your community. You are sympathetic to the local farmers’ argument but must also consider the livelihoods of those in the area who do not farm.
    • Local Farmers’ Representative: Your interests lie in maintaining a lifestyle that not only has flourished in this community for generations but is your sole means of survival. The deep wells called for in ACME’s plan would cause your more shallow wells to go dry. Although Woodpecker County has rich soil, you could not produce crops without sufficient irrigation.
    • U.S. Fish and Wildlife: As a federal agency, your main concern is the sustaining of habitats to support the several unusual plant and animal species, one of which has been listed as threatened.
    • Dirkson Family Landowner: Your family has been prominent in the community for as long as most people in the area can remember. In 1949, after you donated a portion of your land to the county, the county agreed to keep the land (now a park) in good condition. However, over the years, the county has not made maintenance of that land a priority, arguing that they do not have the funds. Selling the land to ACME would provide financial relief for your family and would alleviate maintenance burdens the park has caused.
    • Jasperville City Council: As representatives of Jasperville community members, your concern is your constituents. You would like to see the historical culture of your community continue, but you know that Jasperville would also benefit from the new economic development.
    • Grandview City Council: As a representative of Grandview, you would like to see the Sunnydale development take place, as it will provide jobs for members of your community. However, you are nervous that the farmers in your area will also have water supply problems if Sunnydale is developed.
    • Idenheim City Council: As a representative of Idenheim, you would like to see the Sunnydale development take place, as it will provide jobs for members of your community. However, you are nervous that the farmers in your area will also have water supply problems if Sunnydale is developed.
    Facts and Data

    Data and additional facts important to this case study are as follows: Jasperville’s Economic Development Council (EDC) has discovered low-cost power and water supplies and has recently acquired 180 acres of relatively undeveloped, county-owned land on the edge of town.

    A hydrological engineer who has recently retired from Texas A&M has prepared a fact sheet handout showing the geological relationship between the Old Dirkson Farm and the Pecan aquifer. She has shown that at least half of Woodpecker County’s wells would run dry due to the lowering of the aquifer by wells proposed in ACME’s plan. In addition, the water in excess of the Pecan aquifer’s storage capacity leaks out into Woodpecker Spring, also located on the Old Dirkson Farm. The spring flow supports several plant and animal species, one of which has been listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. If ACME’s water supply plans for Sunnydale are implemented, excess water will no longer be available to leak out of the aquifer into the springs.

    Case Study 3: North Umpqua Hydroelectric Relicensing

    This case study addresses dam relicensing in Douglas County, Oregon, touching on issues such as energy development, endangered species, tourism, environmental justice, water flow, and policy regulation.

    Background Information

    The North Umpqua Hydroelectric project is located in Douglas County, Oregon, near the headwaters of the North Umpqua River. PacifiCorp owns the project, and its facilities include eight hydroelectric developments constructed between 1947 and 1956. The project generates 185 megawatts of power. Each development typically consists of a dam, a waterway, a penstock, roads, and a powerhouse. The project also includes 117 miles of electric transmission line, three reservoirs, and four forebays, which provide limited water storage. The last reservoir (downstream), called Soda Springs Reservoir, is operated to reregulate downstream flows and reduce the effect of flow fluctuations resulting from peak power generation at the upstream developments. The project operates under a PERC license, which expired in 1995. While relicensing proceeds, the project operates on a year-to-year license.

    The project is located completely on lands administered by the Forest Service. The river is home to five native anadromous fish species, three of which are experiencing population decline (sea-run coastal cutthroat trout, Coho salmon, and Pacific lamprey). An abundance of fish (native and nonnative) in both the river and the reservoirs has led to the development of a strong sport fishing industry. Unfortunately, some of the introduced fish compete for food and habitat resources with and/or are predators to anadromous and native fish.

    Other recreational opportunities offered by the river, its tributaries, and the reservoirs are whitewater boating, hiking, camping, bicycling, swimming, sightseeing, boat angling, nonmotorized boating, nature study/observation, and automobile touring.

    PacifiCorp is interested in initiating a collaborative watershed analysis process to address and resolve specific resource concerns that have been voiced by the many and varied stakeholders.


    A preliminary list of stakeholders includes the following:

    • PacifiCorp: PacifiCorp’s main interest is to generate power inexpensively. They are also concerned about relationships.
    • Forest Service (FS): The North Umpqua project is completely on Forest Service land (Umpqua National Forest). The Forest Service feels a certain obligation to seek on-site, in-kind mitigation for both fish passage and terrestrial impacts caused from piping and project development. The Forest Service is also concerned with meeting the directives of the Northwest Forest Plan of December, 2006.
    • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS): Although the mandate for fish passage belongs to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), for this particular project the USFWS is involved because of terrestrial species affected by the project. Specifically, the USFWS argues that the lack of migration and increased animal casualties limits the genetic pool and threatens the continued survival of certain species in that area.
    • National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS): The NMFS has the mandate to ensure fish passage and survival or explain why fish passage is not prescribed.
    • Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ): The ODEQ has the mandate to issue water quality permits (Section 401 permits). They have identified water quality measures that PacifiCorp has to take to meet ODEQ standards. Negotiation between PacifiCorp and the ODEQ is technically independent of the relicensing process; however, ODEQ is invited to the table because water quality is linked so closely to other issues and concerns of stakeholders.
    • Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW): The ODFW has the mandate to prescribe fish passage or explain why fish passage is not prescribed. It also has the mandate to manage resident and sport fishing in the state of Oregon, which sometimes conflicts with the restoration of native fish. This area of the country is also known for its world-class sports fishing.
    • Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD): The OWRD is responsible for issuing water rights, including the right to divert water out of a water body for purposes other than natural uses.
    • Klamath Native American Tribe: The Klamath Tribe once lived in the southern Cascade Range, some 100 miles long and 25 miles wide, which was originally dotted with marshes, lakes, rivers, and streams. In 1864, the Klamath signed a treaty and moved to their reservation around Upper Klamath Lake. In 1954, a Termination Act was passed, which resulted in the U.S. Government terminating the Klamath Reservation. The land was subsequently turned into the Winema National Park. Although the project area is not on reservation land, the Klamath tribe has had fishing rights in the area and has interest in the free run of anadromous fish.
    • Audubon Society: The Audubon Society chapter in the area represents a coalition of nongovernmental environmental organizations and interests (including Oregon trout). They would like to see a more natural flowing system and would like the hydrograph to more accurately reflect natural flow patterns. They would also like to see the lower dam breached.
    • Douglas County, Oregon: The current PacifiCorp project generates a lot of revenue for Douglas County and they are in full support of relicensing the dam.
    Facts and Data

    Data and additional facts important to this case study are as follows:

    PacifiCorp is currently capturing seeps (water run-off) from groundwater runoff without water rights. Because PacifiCorp has historical use of water in the area (meaning the current dam project was initiated before water rights laws were established), they feel they are justified in acquiring seepage water. This has caused conflict between PacifiCorp and the OWRD, which issues and manages water rights in Oregon.

    Recently in the local paper, there was a series of editorials citing PacifiCorp’s North Umpqua dam as an eyesore. Citizens complained that it takes away from the beauty of the area and advocated breaching the dam and using mitigation measures to clean it up.

    The project splits the mountain, causing migration problems. There are miles of open canals, and the number of animals that fall in and drown is high.

    In an attempt to resolve the logging standoff in the Northwest, then President Clinton met with the Forest Service leaders in the Northwest to create the Northwest Forest Plan, published in December, 1996. Forest Service officials in the area are now faced with the task of interpreting and implementing directives of the plan. The plan contains only a small paragraph regarding small-scale hydroelectric power proposals, which is difficult to interpret.

    The effects of a hydroelectric power project are long term because licenses issued are good for 30 to 50 years. Decisions about allowing hydropower development to proceed, the total effects of a project on the watershed, and mitigation measures generally need to assume a 30 to 50 year time period. In the past several years, the Forest Service has negotiated millions of dollars’ worth of mitigation on hydropower projects, including recreation facilities, watershed restoration work, and road obliteration and maintenance. If the mitigation projects are compatible with the Forest Service’s standards and guidelines, benefits can be accrued for the mitigated resource (i.e., mitigation) as well as for the public (i.e., production of power).

    Case Study 4: Cyprinus Lake Phosphorus Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL)

    This case study addresses water quality assessment in rural Saline County, Georgia, and touches on issues such as development, water quality (point and nonpoint source pollution), agriculture, and policy regulation.

    Background Information

    Cyprinus Lake is a large, shallow lake located in rural Saline County, Georgia. Major tributaries to the lake, all of which discharge into the northern end of the lake, include the Mykiss River, Mud Creek, and Willow Creek. The communities of Youngstown (population 60,000) and Prattville (population 2,600) are located along the Mykiss River and Willow Creek, respectively. The Mud Creek drainage is predominantly used for agriculture, but it is increasingly being used for retirement homes that are being built along the river corridor and recreation. An existing rural-residential subdivision (Lakeside) is located on the south end of the lake. Most homes in the subdivision were constructed in the early 1950s and operate on septic systems grandfathered in under state code.

    The Cyprinus Lake Watershed encompasses approximately 300,000 acres in a valley between West Mountain and the Blue Mountains, at a moderately high elevation. A portion of the watershed is steeply sloped forested land, while the area immediately adjacent to the lake and major tributaries is generally gently sloping agricultural and residential land. Only minor changes in local relief occur on the valley floor, and elevation increases sharply in the forested lands. Anthropogenic features such as ponds, irrigation ditches, and diversions dominate the flow of water within the watershed. Beneficial uses of Cyprinus Lake include domestic and agricultural water supply, cold-water aquatic life, salmonoid spawning, and primary and secondary contact recreation.

    Historically, the lake has hosted a healthy population of rainbow, brown, and lake trout; whitefish; and crappie. The current fishery consists of carp, stocked rainbow trout, and white crappie. Until recently, timber harvest and agriculture (livestock grazing) dominated the local economies. These industries are being rapidly replaced by the recreation industry (lake and woodland) and specialty crop agriculture within the watershed.

    In the mid-1990s, it was observed that phosphorus was entering the lake from point (permitted) sources and nonpoint sources (primarily spring runoff and irrigation returns). In 2001, high phosphorus inputs and drought conditions combined to produce dense mats of blue-green alga in the lake. In September, several domestic dogs and some livestock died as a result of ingesting toxins produced by the blue-green alga. The high pollutant loads and reduced water volume resulted in decreased dissolved oxygen levels due to algal growth and decay, warmer water temperatures, and increased sediment-phosphorus release. These changes resulted in a substantial fish kill in the south end of the lake that included nearly all species of fish.

    Under section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act (CWA), Cyprinus Lake has been identified as water-quality limited due to excessive phosphorus loading from the surrounding watershed. The nuisance of algae growth has impaired beneficial uses of the lake, specifically agriculture water supply (toxic algal blooms), cold water aquatic life (low dissolved oxygen and warm temperatures), and primary and secondary contact recreation (toxic algal blooms). The lake has been listed by the state as a high priority for TMDL development.

    Water-quality studies of Cyprinus Lake revealed that a 40% reduction (1,200 lb/year) in phosphorus loading is required to restore good water quality and fully support designated beneficial uses. As the phosphorous is coming from all sources all over the watershed, reductions can be targeted throughout the watershed. Phosphorus reductions do not have to be evenly applied as long as the total reduction goal for the lake is reached.


    A preliminary list of stakeholders is listed below.

    • Youngstown Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP): This WWTP is the largest total phosphorus discharger to the watershed (70% of the point source load, 630 lb/year). Already operating an activated sludge process, upgrading to reduce total phosphorus loading would require additional treatment capability costing approximately $68 per pound of phosphorus removed. Rate increases and state revolving fund loans are available to help offset these costs to some degree.
    • Prattville Wastewater Treatment Plant: This WWTP is a very small total phosphorus discharger to the watershed (5% of the point source load, 45 lb/year). Currently operating a lagoon system, upgrading to reduce total phosphorus loadings would require additional treatment capability costing approximately $200 per pound of phosphorus removed. Rate increases and state resolving fund loans are available to help offset these costs to some degree.
    • Methuselah Paints: This industrial discharger represents a very small total phosphorus load to the watershed (5% of the point source load, 45 lb/year). Upgrading to reduce total phosphorus loading would require additional treatment capability costing approximately $500 per pound of phosphorus removed. Cost increases passed directly to the consumers are the only available measure to help offset these costs.
    • Jonah Fish Farms: This permitted discharger represents 20% (180 lb/year) of the total phosphorus point source load to the watershed. Upgrading to reduce total phosphorus would require additional treatment capability costing approximately $25 per pound of phosphorus removed. Cost increases passed directly to the consumers of federal and state agricultural program funds (cost share) are available to help offset these costs.
    • Gideon’s Orchards: Nonpoint source loading from this land use represents 15% (225 lb/year) of the total phosphorus nonpoint source load to the watershed. Upgrading to reduce total phosphorus loading would require establishing and implementing best management practices, costing approximately $30 per pound of phosphorus removed. Cost increases passed directly to the consumers and federal and state agricultural program funds are available to help offset these costs.
    • Field of Promise Stables: Nonpoint source loading from this land use represents 10% (150 lb/year) of the total phosphorus nonpoint source load to the watershed. Upgrading to reduce total phosphorus loading would require establishing and implementing best management practices, costing approximately $60 per pound of phosphorus removed. Cost increases passed directly to the customers and federal and state agricultural program funds (cost share) are available to help offset these costs.
    • Local Agricultural Growers: This land use represents the largest nonpoint total phosphorus loading to the watershed (60% of the nonpoint source load, 900 lb/year). Upgrading to reduce total phosphorus loadings would require establishing and implementing best management practices, costing approximately $40 per pound of phosphorus removed. Federal and state agricultural program funds (cost share) are the only available measure to help offset these costs.
    • Lakeside Home Owners Association: Nonpoint source loading from this land use represents 15% (225 lb/year) of the total phosphorus nonpoint source load to the watershed. It also represents a bacterial concern for contact recreation in the waters in the south end of the lake. Upgrading to reduce total phosphorus loading will require the construction of a new WWTP area, as existing lots are too small to accommodate new septic tanks and drain fields that conform to current state standards. Construction and operating costs for a new WWTP are projected to be approximately $243 per pound of phosphorus removed. State revolving fund loans can be applied to offset these costs to some degree, but the majority of the cost must be borne as hookup fees and monthly charges.
    • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): The Clean Water Act charges the EPA and state agencies with ensuring that waters of the U.S. meet water quality standards and fully support the designated beneficial uses. The EPA is further charged with oversight and enforcement of discharge permits in the state.
    • Georgia Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Water Quality (GDEQ): Under section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act (CWA), the GDEQ identified Cyprinus Lake as water-quality limited due to excessive phosphorus loading from the surrounding watershed and has listed it as a high priority for TMDL development. In their report, recommendations were made for implementing a plan to clean up Cyprinus Lake. Although they do not have any regulatory teeth for nonpoint source cleanup, their expertise with the history of the lake and regulatory connections places them in a position to provide oversight and guidance.
    Facts and Data

    Data and additional facts important to this case study are listed below.

    The initial assessment process for establishing TMDL has determined that 30% (900 lb/year) of the total phosphorus loading is from point sources (e.g., wastewater treatment plants, industrial discharges, and aquaculture). Nonpoint sources (e.g., agriculture, livestock grazing, and failing septic systems) account for 50% (1,500 lb/year) of the total phosphorus loading, and natural sources account for 20% (600 lb/year).

    Reductions in nonpoint source loading are essentially voluntary and cannot be enforced through fines and other legal action. In most cases, contributors to the local economy, being primarily agricultural and rural residential, do not have the financial means to implement the necessary changes on their own and must rely on outside funding to allow management changes to be implemented. Change would be relatively straightforward, however, at a lower cost per pound of phosphorus than cost per pound for industrial or municipal dischargers. Additionally, such improvements can be carried out in an incremental fashion until cumulative efforts result in the desired level of water quality in the runoff water. For example, an agricultural land owner that used flood irrigation could switch a portion of his fields to sprinkler irrigation until the desired water quality criteria were met in the irrigation drain water.

    Reductions in point source loading are regulated by discharge permits under the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Agency. These reductions are nonvoluntary, can be enforced through fines and other legal action, normally come at a higher economic cost, and generally cannot be implemented incrementally. For example, if a WWTP is currently operating a traditional lagoon system and must reduce their total phosphorus output substantially, they generally must construct an additional treatment system (biological-nutrient removal, chemical precipitation, etc.), rather than add components onto existing systems.

    Case Study 5: Bowcrest Mountain Ski Resort

    This case study addresses ski resort development in Big Pine, North Dakota, and touches on issues such as permitting, endangered species, wildlife management, economic development, tourism, and policy regulation.

    Background Information

    Bowcrest Mountain is a ski resort operating in a 4,500 acre, special use permit area on U.S. Forest Service land. The ski resort’s base area (which includes lodges, rental shops, a hotel, and a parking lot) is located on private land owned by the resort. The ski resort currently has approximately 450 acres of skiable terrain, most of which caters to intermediate and advanced skiers. The number of skiers that can safely and comfortably use this amount of terrain is approximately 3,000 at any given time. The parking lots, lodges, and other base areas of the facilities can comfortably accommodate approximately 2,000 skiers at any given time.

    The ski resort seldom has visitation exceeding 3,000 at any given time except during Christmas vacation (December 20 through January 1) and President’s weekend. During these periods, visitation sometimes exceeds 6,000 skiers at a time. Approximately 70% of the resort’s annual income is earned during these peak visitation periods.

    The ski resort is adjacent to the town of Big Pine, North Dakota. Forty miles southwest is the town of Canmore, North Dakota. Each town has a population of less than 25,000.

    The majority of the economic revenue in Big Pine is associated with the operation of the ski resort, with the service industry being the biggest employer in town. Living expenses are very high in Big Pine; most workers in Big Pine commute from Canmore where the housing is more affordable. However, recent growth in the skier visitation to Bowcrest Mountain has resulted in a scarcity of affordable housing in Canmore as well. Consequently, workers have begun to obtain housing in the surrounding communities of High River and Okotoks, which are approximately 75 miles northeast of Big Pine. Both of these communities are essentially supported by farming and ranching.

    The ski resort has approached the forest service with a proposal to expand its special use permit by 2,000 acres on an adjacent, undeveloped mountain. The ski resort proposes to clear 700 acres of skiable terrain on this mountain bringing the total amount of skiable terrain at the resort to 1,150 acres. An additional four ski lifts (high-speed quads) would be constructed to access the terrain. To provide facilities for skiers using the new terrain, the ski resort proposes to construct additional base area facilities (e.g. lodges, hotels, and parking) at the bottom of the undeveloped mountain. These facilities would be constructed on private land owned by the ski resort.

    The additional proposed terrain (700 acres) and base areas facilities would allow the resort to safely and comfortably accommodate 7,000 skiers, which is the maximum number the ski resort typically experiences during peak visitation weekends. The additional terrain would also allow the development of a snowboard terrain park to cater to the expanding snowboarder market.

    The additional terrain would require increased snowmaking capacity, including increased water withdrawal and transport capabilities. The infrastructure for the snowmaking would be built on both private and public land. Additional water for snowmaking would be taken from Bow River, which flows by the current ski resort base facilities. The ski resort currently has a withdrawal tight of 10 cubic feet per second (cfs) of water from Bow River. In order to provide adequate snowmaking on the additional proposed terrain, the ski resort would have to construct another diversion structure on Bow River at the base of the mountain in the proposed expansion area. An additional 15 cfs of water would have to be withdrawn at this diversion structure.


    A preliminary list of stakeholders includes the following:

    • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: You have identified several wetland and riparian areas on the resort’s private land and are also concerned that Bow River consistently goes below its state-mandated minimum instream flow.
    • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services: You are concerned that critical habitat for the Canada lynx may be impacted along with the habitat for other big game species. You are also worried about the potential impact to the North Dakota River system.
    • U.S. Forest Service: You oversee the majority of the land potentially impacted. Responsibilities include managing unbroken stands of Douglas fir and spruce and protecting cultural resources found on Forest Service land.
    • North Dakota Division of Wildlife: This agency is concerned that critical habitat for the Canada lynx may be impacted along with the habitat for other big game species. They are also worried about the potential impact to the North Dakota River system.
    • North Dakota State Historical Preservation Office: This agency has identified historic and prehistoric sites that are eligible for the National Registry of Historic Places and requires mitigation measures to preserve these locations.
    • City of Big Pine: Big Pine community members rely on the ski resort for business and economic viability. The community stands to benefit by the expansion of the resort.
    • City of Canmore: This community has also benefited from the popularity of the ski resort. However, affordable housing has become scarce due to the growing popularity of the area.
    • Cities of High River and Okotoks: These communities are both primarily ranching communities and would like to preserve that rural identity. However, due to the cost of housing in the surrounding areas, growth has become an issue for both communities and housing costs are beginning to skyrocket.
    • Bowcrest Mountain Ski Resort: The resort considers itself the financial stability of Big Pine and needs this expansion to remain financially viable.
    • Blood Indian Tribe: This Tribe used to live and hunt along these ridgelines in the proposed project area. The boundaries of their reservation do not include the ridgelines, but the land still holds special spiritual significance to their people.
    Facts and Data

    Data and additional facts important to this case study are listed below.

    The town next to the ski resort depends almost entirely on ski resort tourism for its economic survival. When the ski resort is withdrawing its maximum water right (10 cfs) during late January and early February, Bow River consistently goes below the state mandated minimum instream flow of 73 cfs.

    Bow River is a tributary of the North Dakota River. Any water depletions of the North Dakota River will have the potential to impact endangered fish in the North Dakota River system.

    The ridgelines in the proposed project area have been identified as having special tribal significance to several Native American Tribes, specifically the Blood Indian Tribe.

    The immediate area was once heavily logged and mined. Several logging and mining structures are still located on both the existing ski resort and the mountain proposed for expansion.

    Most of the terrain at the existing ski resort is vegetated with stands of Douglas fir and spruce, interspersed with cleared ski trails that have been revegetated with a mixture of native species and introduced wheatgrass, ryegrass, and bluegrass. The undeveloped mountain is covered almost entirely of unbroken stands of Douglas fir and spruce

    This area represents a potential habitat for Canadian lynx, a federally listed threatened species. The valley between the two mountains contains a tributary of Bow River, as well as North Dakota Division of Wildlife designated critical wintering habitat for mule deer. A wildlife habitat mitigation area for preserving and enhancing potential habitat for Canada lynx is located near the project area.

    Several wetlands and other waters of the U.S. associated with Bow River’s riparian zone are found on the ski area’s private land.

    The immediate area of the ski resort and its proposed expansion was once heavily logged. There are historical dams and logging and mining camps associated with historical operations throughout the area. Many of these structures would likely be eligible for listing in the National Register.

    Case Study 6: Wolf Reintroduction in the State of Minnesota

    This study addresses wolf reintroduction in the state of Minnesota and touches on issues such as wildlife management, endangered species, economic development, agriculture, and environmental justice.

    Background Information

    In 2010 a federal judge ruled in favor of reintroducing the gray wolf in the state of Minnesota, and against the American Farm Bureau in a lawsuit that sought to block the project. The Minnesota government turned down a proposal made by the Minnesota Department of Fish and Wildlife Services to contract with the Cree Indian tribe to manage the wolf reintroduction. Since the beginning of the proposal, there has been controversy in the community as some members feel the wolf reintroduction will jeopardize the safety of their children and will only lead to the reintroduction of the grizzly bear, which used to also live in this area. This will hinder camping and recreational activities and make the outdoors unsafe. Others are also concerned for their agricultural businesses, as the wolves are believed likely to prey on cattle. Most of the tension has been under the surface until a recently reported incident where a wolf killed and fed on a farmer’s calf. The farmer, in retribution, grabbed his shotgun and killed the wolf. This has led to a division within the community as fear and unease has increased.


    A list of preliminary stakeholders includes the following:

    • Cree Indian Tribe: As this is the first time a Native American tribe has led the reintroduction of an endangered species, the Cree are particularly proud of their status. The wolf represents more than an opportunity to be involved in a reintroduction of an endangered species, to the Cree the wolf is sacred and a major part of their ancestral culture. As such the reintroduction represents a resurgence of their culture as well as environmental wholeness.
    • Minnesota Cattle Association/Minnesota Farm Bureau: Members of these organizations are concerned that the wolves will prey on their cattle. After the cited incident of the wolf killing, a meeting was called in which their main objective was to seek ways to halt the project before the wolf problem became out of hand.
    • Minnesota ATV and Outdoor Recreation Association: Members of this organization are concerned that the wolf reintroduction will hamper their outdoor activities and become a barrier to their rights to a safe outdoors. They have also heard talk of a possible reintroduction of the grizzly bear that would even further endanger their activities. They want the reintroduction stopped.
    • Minnesota Independent Miners Association: Members of this organization are concerned that the wolf reintroduction will limit their mining or industrial activities. They see no need for a reintroduction of an animal that has been absent from these areas for some time and feel the proposal is not only a waste of time but of taxpayers’ money.
    • Local Environmental Groups: Local environmental groups are in complete support of the wolf reintroduction as they view it as a step towards environmental wholeness in the area.
    • Local Citizens Groups: Many local citizens are concerned about the reintroduction and fear for their children. Rumors of wolves carrying away small children plague some citizens. They also feel the wolf reintroduction may lead to the reintroduction of the grizzly bear.
    • Local Political Leaders: Although they can see the benefits of the reintroduction, local political leaders want to support their constituents and make sure their concerns or fears are addressed.
    • Minnesota Department of Fish and Wildlife Services: While the federal government turned down their proposal, they are in support of the reintroduction and have even offered to work closely with the Cree tribe throughout the reintroduction. Their main concern is that the reintroduction is handled properly and in a timely manner.
    Facts and Data

    Wolves live and hunt in packs of around six to ten animals. They are known to roam large distances, perhaps 12 miles (20 kilometers) in a single day. These social animals cooperate on their preferred prey—large animals such as deer, elk, and moose. When they are successful, wolves do not eat in moderation. A single animal can consume 20 pounds (9 kilograms) of meat at a sitting. Wolves also eat smaller mammals, such as birds, fish, lizards, snakes, and fruit.

    A pair of lawsuits filed in early 2011 has put the recovery plan in jeopardy. Interestingly, while one of the lawsuits was filed by the Minnesota Farm Bureau, the other was filed by a coalition of concerned environmental groups including the Minnesota Conservation League and Audubon Society. The latter group pointed to unofficial wolf sightings as proof that wolves had already migrated down to Minnesota from the north, which they argued made the plan to reintroduce an experimental population in the same area unlawful.


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    About the Authors

    Dr. Tracylee Clarke is currently an associate professor and chair of the Communication Program at California State University Channel Islands. Her current research and teaching interests include environmental communication and conflict management; collaborative decision making and policy development; the intersections of narrative, culture, identity, and conflict; and the role of dialogue in conflict prevention and resolution. She is a member of U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution, Morris K. Udall Foundation and teaches a course for the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine School of Law. Dr. Clarke worked as an environmental mediator and policy analyst and has over 18 years of experience in environmental conflict management and collaborative policy development. She has managed and directed large, complex stakeholder processes and mediations for federal, state, local, and tribal governments as well as private industry. Controversial issues she has mediated include natural resource management, land use, endangered species protection, water supply and water quality, transportation, energy development, and toxic remediation and cleanup. As an environmental consultant, she has also designed and conducted professional training workshops for government officials and environmental managers to enhance collaborative problem solving, negotiation skills, and communication competency. Dr. Clarke holds an MA in communication from the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication at Washington State University and a PhD in environmental communication from the University of Utah. She is also certified as a professional mediator.

    Dr. Tarla Rai Peterson is professor of communication at the University of Texas at El Paso. She also serves as guest professor of environmental communication at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and as an adjunct professor of communication at the University of Utah. Dr. Peterson has published several books on communication, technology, and the environment as well as numerous research articles on environmental conflict and public participation in environmental policy making. Her research program explores how the intersections between communication, democratic practice, and policy enable/constrain policy options and public life. She values classroom teaching and serves as a faculty mentor for graduate teaching assistants. She has developed an active theory to practice program that includes design and evaluation of best practices for facilitating public participation in issues related to environmental policy. The program is centered on the critical role of communication in facilitating the emergence and implementation of sustainable environmental policy. Dr. Peterson’s most recent books examine conflict surrounding housing (The Housing Bomb, published by Johns Hopkins University Press) and energy (Smart Grid [R]Evolution, published by Cambridge University Press) policy. She has worked with environmental conflict in a variety of locations including Australia, India, El Salvador, Sweden, and the United States.

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