The Center was asked by the Washington State Governor's Office to help the Office of Financial Management--in collaboration with the Department of Transportation, Department of Ecology, and affected and interested federal agencies, tribal governments and local governments--produce a report to the Governor and Legislature required by Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2020 that identifies recommended priority flood hazard mitigation projects in the Chehalis River Basin in southwest Washington. The Center's tasks were to coordinate the report, using technical information provided by other agencies and organizations, and to conduct a situation assessment of flood alternatives and relationships between the responsible parties and stakeholders. The report was completed in December 2012. In August 2012, Governor Gregoire asked the Center to facilitate a work group convened to advise her on recommendations for her biennial budget proposal. A framework document containing the group's recommendations was presented to the Governor on November 14th. The Center remains involved facilitating and coordinating the work group's efforts.
The Center is partnering with the University of Washington’s Health Policy Center (UW HPC) on a project that will examine eldercare workforce capacity in Washington state, including mapping the issue, convening stakeholders statewide to listen and learn from one another about areas of conflict and consensus, and facilitating those stakeholders as they create and put into operation a Washington State Eldercare Workforce Alliance. In December 2012, the Center and UW HPC received a grant to begin the first phase of this project. The Center is also participating in a University Network for Collaborative Governance (UNCG) initiative to launch similar efforts in states across the country that will engage health care and workforce stakeholders in developing eldercare workforce strategies. The UNCG initiative will focus on: 1) Hosting a national colloquium on Eldercare Workforce Collaboration, resulting in a report to serve as the basis for a multi-state pilot; 2) A pilot to evaluate and report on results and lessons learned of the assessments; and 3) Convening assessments in several states through UNCG centers, including the Ruckelshaus Center. For more information, contact Project Manager Patricia Lichiello.
Read the Eldercare Quarterly Report: Number 1, April 2013 (360 KB PDF)
Columbia River Salmon
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) has asked the Ruckelshaus Center - in partnership with Oregon Consensus at Portland State University - to conduct a situation assessment of regional views about salmon and steelhead recovery planning in the Columbia River Basin over the long term. A situation assessment is an interview-based process undertaken to better understand and explore relevant issues and interests of involved parties and situation dynamics. An assessment team featuring practitioner and academic expertise from Washington, Oregon and Idaho will reach out to a broad array of regional parties over the next several months to capture the full range of perspectives.
Agriculture and Critical Areas/Voluntary Stewardship Program
In 2007, Washington’s Governor and Legislature—along with agricultural, tribal, environmental and local government representatives—asked the Center to assist in resolving long-standing conflict over the protection and enhancement on agricultural lands of environmentally “critical areas” under Washington’s Growth Management Act. This conflict, more than a decade old, has spawned lawsuits, appeals, legislative battles and a voter initiative. In Substitute Senate Bills 5248 and 6520, the parties involved reached a compromise for a moratorium on counties adopting amendments to critical areas ordinances with respect to agricultural activities while participating stakeholders developed recommendations to resolve the long-standing disagreements. The Center was designated to coordinate fact-finding research and facilitate the discussions. The aim was to develop solutions, policies and practices that ensure protection of environmentally sensitive areas in ways that support the preservation of farm lands and a strong farm economy.
In September 2010, the Agriculture and Critical Areas (Ag CA) Committee reached agreement on a framework for a Voluntary Stewardship Program. The Center submitted a Final Report on the process in October 2010 that included this framework. The Ag CA Committee established a Legislative Subcommittee to turn the framework into proposed legislation for implementing the Program and the Center facilitated their discussions. This legislation was introduced in the Washington State House and the Senate in February 2011, and passed the legislature in April 2011 as ESHB 1886. On May 16, 2011, Governor Gregoire signed ESHB 1886, creating the Voluntary Stewardship Program.
The Washington State Conservation Commission (which the legislation designates as the lead state agency) and the parties to the agreement asked the Center to continue its involvement, believing the Center's neutrality, experience with these issues/parties and expertise in collaborative processes would continue to be helpful as the agencies and parties begin early implementation. With support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the Center has remained involved during implementation.
The Center has been involved in two related projects designed to promote sustainable aviation biofuels in the Pacific Northwest, to help the region meet its clean energy goals. The first was called Sustainable Aviation Biofuels Northwest (SAFN). The second is a $40 million, five year grant from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) to support a team of academic and private sector researchers called the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA).
Spokane River Toxics
The Spokane River Regional Toxics Task Force (SRRTTF) is a collaborative group of governmental agencies, private industries, and environmental organizations attempting an innovative approach to the reduction of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) within the Spokane River. The goal of the Task Force is to develop a comprehensive plan to bring the Spokane River into compliance with water quality standards for PCBs. The Task Force expressed a strong preference for a university-based provider of facilitation and coordination services, and asked the Center to play those roles. The Center is now facilitating the Task Force and its Work Groups. For more information, contact Project Manager Kelsey Gray or visit the SRRTTF website.
In the fall of 2010, coastal Marine Resource Committees (MRCs) and Washington State natural resource agencies began discussing the need for a Washington coast-wide group to advise the State on ocean policy issues and provide local perspectives on - and solutions to - marine resource issues, projects and conflicts. Coastal MRCs organized a series of discussions to outline the purpose and role of a coastal group and developed a recommendation to the State Ocean Caucus (SOC) to form a coastal stakeholder advisory body. The Washington State Department of Ecology, on behalf of the SOC and the Governor's Office, is coordinating the Washington Coastal Marine Advisory Council (WCMAC) focusing on marine and ocean policy issues on Washington's Pacific Ocean Coast (from Cape Flattery south), including the estuaries of Grays Harbor, Willapa Bay and the lower Columbia River. At request of the stakeholders who helped design the process, Ecology retained the Center to serve as neutral convener, providing facilitation and coordination services to support the WCMAC in conducting its meetings and reaching decisions. For more information, contact Project Manager Amanda Murphy or visit the Department of Ecology's website.
Building upon the "4Cs Project" conducted several years ago by the Three Rivers Community Roundtable, the Center is conducting research and a public engagement process on the topic of improving governance and governance structure in the Tri-Cities, WA region. The project will be done in three phases in collaboration with WSU's Division of Governmental Studies and Services, UW Evans School of Public Affairs, and UW Information School.
Read the Phase 1 of the Tri-Cities Governance Study (600 KB PDF)
The Columbia River Gorge Commission asked the Center and the Oregon Consensus program at Portland State University to conduct a series of individual and group interviews with a wide range of stakeholders and regional leaders to identify aspiration, concerns and willingness to find common ground for resource protection and community development in the Columbia River Gorge. The assessment summarized the interviews and offered recommendations about the feasibility of collaborative problem solving. The Assessment also recommended the Gorge Commission engage in internal development work, to strengthen collaboration between the Commission, other agencies, communities and the public. To that end, the Commission asked the Center and Oregon Consensus to provide training for Gorge Commissioners that included tools for communication, collaboration and problem solving.
Read the May 2, 2012 Launch Press Release (280 KB PDF)
Read the September 12, 2012 Report Release Announcement (320 KB PDF)
Read the Collaborative Engagement Assessment Report (1.5 MB PDF)
Read the February 28, 2013 Completion Press Release (120 KB PDF)
Recognizing that civil public discourse is a fundamental element of collaborative public policy, the Center is exploring the current status of civil discourse in the state, region and nation. The Center seeks to understand how the current state of public discourse compares to other periods in history, what effects this is having on the policy process, and whether there is anything the Center and other organizations can or should do about it. In August 2012, the Center devoted its second annual Chairman's Circle Luncheon to this topic. Renowned author Ronald Brownstein discussed Civil Discourse in an Age of Hyper-Partisanship. In October 2012, the Center co-sponsored two conferences. The first was entitled Civil Discourse to Resolve Governmental Crises, hosted by the UW Evans School of Public Affairs and the Evergreen Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration. The second was the 2012 annual conference for the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation.
Read more about the Center's focus on Civil Public Discourse (320 KB PDF)
The Center is collaborating with the US Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution, the Policy Consensus Initiative at Portland State University, and the Oregon Natural Resources Institute on this project intended to promote collaborative decision making on public policy in the Pacific Northwest. The goal of the Northwest Environment and Natural Resources Forum is to provide a neutral place for regional environmental leaders from federal, state, local and tribal governments to identify emerging issues of mutual interest and map a strategy for addressing them. The idea is to give these leaders an opportunity to step back from every-day challenges, interact with one another and coordinate efforts to address complex, cross-cutting issues before they become conflicts. The Forum will meet regularly to identify issues, and review issue assessments and process design recommendations. The Center is serving on the Steering Committee for this project.
As part of its efforts to build capacity for collaborative policy within the state and region, the Center provides training in collaborative problem-solving, conflict resolution and building long-term working relationships. The training is structured to be useful to individuals from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds. Seasoned trainers work with agencies and organizations to tailor the curriculum to their needs. For example, the Center has held workshops to assist newly-elected state legislators with the transition from candidate to legislator. The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WFDW) asked the Center to provide trainings to meet the needs of WDFW habitat biologists in successfully managing interactions and relationships with permit applicants, while providing protection for fish and their habitat. The Center teamed with the National Policy Consensus Center at Portland State University to provide collaboration training to the staff at the Washington State Department of Natural Resources' Aquatics Division. And the Center is a part of a University Network for Collaborative Governance that has issued a Guide to Collaborative Competencies. We use that guide to help agencies understand what types of collaborative skills university centers can help develop.
Updated on May 7, 2013