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Private-Public Collaborations in Natural Resource Management: Forging Shared Action Arenas Between Heterogeneous Actors

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Rollins, Nathan D.
Date: 2012
Agency: Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
Series: CSID Working Paper Series, no. CSID-2012-001
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/8062
Sector: General & Multiple Resources
Region: North America
Subject(s): fire ecology
resource management
Abstract: "Resource managers have become increasingly cognizant of the value of integrating stakeholders into decision-making processes. Considering the strong relationship between stakeholder activities and ecological services, it is worthwhile to think about how stakeholders can be engaged to advance management goals, rather than just viewed as 'users' that must be managed or restricted to protect the target resource. In his 1993 National Performance Review, Vice-President Gore directed federal resource management agencies to implement landscape-level 'ecosystem management' strategies, including inter-agency coordination and citizen participatory management. However, actual successes remained elusive, as no one actually knew what these arrangements should look like or how to construct them. Frustrated by years of counter-productive conflicts between government land managers, conservation groups, and private stakeholders, a group of ranchers in Arizona and New Mexico formed a cooperative to find an alternative path out of the rangeland conflicts by bringing together ranchers, environmentalists, and research scientists. This paper examines the story of the Malpai Borderlands Group, its formation, and a few key struggles that they faced to become one of the leading examples of public-private collaborations in the US. This paper will argue that both the scope and key features of their success is best understood within the institutional context of the rangelands and its complex regulatory landscape. The significant political and institutional obstacles the ranchers faced was a heritage of the complex institutional arrangements of the Western Range and the many interests that attempt to manage and control its delicate ecosystems. The group succeeded through an iterative process of making small but critical changes to the action situations they faced, and their experience suggests to us that by constructing spaces for respectful dialog, it may be possible for opponents to reach a common ground of shared values and goals."

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