The term "environmental governance" is used to describe the increasingly collaborative nature of environmental natural resource policy creation and implementation that incorporates a diversity of third party actors ranging from government agencies to the profit sector, nonprofit sector, and civic society. Though the definition of environmental governance emphasizes collaborative efforts that include citizen participants, there is still a lack of information examining what the citizen perspective and experience is in collaborative natural resource management activities. Moving away from an emphasis on the components of successful citizen groups, this project reframes the issue of creating and coordinating citizen participation as a function of the institutional arrangements in which they are situated. Specifically, this project examines how local governmental units created out of statutory law to address local fresh water resource management issues interact with federal, state, and county agencies working in the field of fresh water conservation. Special attention is given to Minnesota's Lake Improvement District program, one of the state's lesser known citizen-driven water resource management initiatives, to highlight barriers to citizen participation from a grassroots perspective. Using a qualitative case study approach that includes in-depth interviews with citizens, government officials, and agency representatives, this project seeks to develop environmental policies that better coordinate water management activities across varying spatial scales (local, regional, national). Project findings offer insight to policymakers regarding the potential institutional hurdles that may appear when attempting to implement citizen participation practices into a previously established water governance system.
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University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
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