Ag Pilots Project
The Center followed a process of initial consultation with a sample of leaders from across the farming and environmental communities, as well as tribal and governmental representatives. Based on initial feedback, the Center then expanded its outreach to over 200 affected and knowledgeable constituencies, which will be able to project applicants for developing a full project proposal. After this initial phase, the Policy Consensus Center drafted a preliminary report in January 2006, which described how a project might be crafted that addressed a number of problems faced by the rural communities and natural resources of our state.Since the draft report was released in early 2006, the Governor’s office has asked the Policy Consensus Center to provide staff support for the potential implementation of the project. A budget proviso provided funding for ongoing efforts of the Center's staff to assist the Oversight Committee.
In an effort to learn lessons of value in natural resource recovery, NOAA asked the Center to examine the process that led to the success of the Shared Strategy Resource Recovery Plan. The Shared Strategy Resource Recovery Plan is a unique watershed plan that was developed for the complex Puget Sound region. Assisted by a local non-profit, it was developed voluntarily by a bottom-up process involving concerned citizens, tribal leaders, environmental advocates, local government representatives, state and federal agencies, and businesses. It is one of only a few federally approved plans for species recovery under the Endangered Species Act.
Walla Walla Water Management Initiative
The Water Management Initiative is an emerging effort to create a locally governed water management system in the Walla Walla Basin that will support fish recovery while maintaining the agricultural economy. It is the result of an unprecedented offer by Washington Department of Ecology: if water users in the Walla Walla Basin can commit to delivering prescribed flows and can design an approach to achieve those flows, Ecology will seek the needed authority to allow water to be managed locally and more flexibly.
Water Resource Administration & Funding Task Force
Are Washington State’s water management programs a public good that should be paid for by all? Or, do some of these programs benefit specific groups who should pay the costs of those services? In an age of competing water demands among agriculture, municipalities and fish, how should the state finance water right permit administration and other water related programs? These complex issues have generated controversy for many years. With continuing budget challenges and a history of water program budget fluctuations, there is great interest in finding new, dependable, and sustainable funding mechanisms for the future. In 2004, the legislature established a Task Force charged with recommending ways to fund the state’s water resource programs.
Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Initiative Evaluation
The Northwest Straits Initiative was born out of conflict. In the 1980s, hundreds of people crowded into public hearings to argue for or against the establishment of a National Marine Sanctuary in northern Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. When that effort was abandoned, a collaborative process gave rise to the Northwest Straits Initiative. Today, many of the supporters and opponents of the failed National Marine Sanctuary proposal are now solidly behind this citizen-led collaborative effort to protect and restore this vital marine ecosystem.
Washington Water Acquisition Program
Mark Twain once said, “In the West whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting.”
Washington State reflects Twain’s statement, where water programs are rarely without controversy. The Washington Water Acquisition Program was no exception. Under this voluntary, incentive-based program, the Department of Ecology acquired water rights for the purpose of increasing stream flows to improve salmon habitat and survival. However, skepticism of the program among some agricultural communities led Ecology to seek an evaluation of the public acceptance and perception of their efforts. The Agency asked the PCC to provide an independent and neutral review of the program.
The Center worked with business, labor and the state government as they struggled through issues surrounding workers' compensation policy, an issue affecting many other states. The Center provided negotiation assistance to the parties in evaluating whether to go forward with reform, and if so, how. Through a safe, neutral forum for the parties they explored the issues and context in which progress might be made. Such a forum provides the opportunity to create a greater mutual understanding of the issues, obstacles and possibilities. Togther with the parties, the Center helped establish a process for substantive dialogue that improved key business, labor and political relationships and preserved potential for reform in the future.