Conflict and the challenges of community-based collaboration : a case study of Oregon's Illinois Valley Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/js956k73t

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  • In the field of natural resource policy and management, community-based collaboration is a strategy that has been growing in scope and usage over the past three decades, and often offers hope in complex, difficult conflict situations. In Oregon's Illinois Valley, where conflicts over natural resource management have been ongoing for decades, the divided community has been actively exploring strategies for collaborative interventions to rectify longstanding divides between stakeholder interests (e.g. timber, endangered species) and develop a shared future vision for natural resource management in the Valley. Prior research recognizes that outcomes are hard to measure and that looking only at substantive changes is too narrow sighted. Daniels and Walker pose the notion that progress, rather than substantive changes, is a better measure of community collaboration efforts. This study poses the question: "What relational, procedural, and substantive progress has been made in the Illinois Valley related to community based collaboration interventions?" I employ a case study analysis of three data sources: a community assessment report prepared by the Josephine County Stewardship Group, notes taken at the Collaboration Cadre Workshop held in November 2012, and community interviews conducted between January - March, 2013. Content analysis of these sources led to the identification of nine themes within the three progress areas. In relationships, I found that negative attitudes towards federal management agencies and distrust of other stakeholders (particularly across the timber-environmentalist divide) is a major barrier to progress. However, the most recent data--the interviews--suggest a subtle transition to more positive appraisals of agency personnel. Additionally, positive, forward-looking attitudes towards collaboration, combined with a local spirit of neighborly reciprocity, are building a foundation for relational progress. Substantively, insufficient and biased science, including the “dueling expert” problem, have limited the ability of residents to find a shared understanding. Collaborative learning initiatives that honor local knowledge are needed to build a shared understanding and a mutually accepted body of knowledge. Finally, procedural progress has been hindered by the loss of participants who became frustrated with the process. For procedural progress to be made, facilitation efforts need to focus on reintegrating the moderate voice and bringing back diverse representation of the community, and they must also be upfront about the sidebars of the process, including what type of activities are on the table and what paths/barriers to implementation exist. Through looking at progress rather than results, and relationships and procedure along with substance, I was able to learn more about the situation and possible intervention points than one could by looking at substantive results alone.
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