2003 | 334 Pages | ISBN: 0-262-23226-X | pdf | 1.44Mb
Some of the most bitter controversies over U.S. environmental policies have occurred in small Western communities where timber, mining, and ranching interests have clashed with those seeking to preserve public lands for ecological or recreational purposes. Whether the conﬂict was over implementation of the Endangered Species Act, the National Forest Management Act, or any number of other federal or state laws, the out-come often was policy stalemate and local economic stagnation. At the national level, the experience in these cases stimulated ideological debates
over the relative importance of economic development and environmental protection, and fed an antienvironmental movement that sought to weaken federal statutes thought to contribute to these conﬂicts.
Against that background, one of the most intriguing developments of the past decade has been the rise of grassroots governance efforts in such Western communities, and elsewhere around the nation. Those directing these efforts have sought to reconcile competing values through collaborative and participatory decision making that brings together citizens, key stakeholder groups, and government agencies in a search for acceptable solutions. These ad hoc and voluntary processes have helped to foster consensus on habitat conservation plans for protecting endangered spe-
cies, restoration efforts for degraded ecosystems, smart-growth strategies for suburban communities, and redevelopment of contaminated lands.
These experiments highlight the importance of inquiry into how such grassroots environmental decision making actually works, how well it meets expectations for political accountability, how successful it is in achieving desired environmental outcomes, and the conditions that contribute to its success over time.