The Role of Agency Partnerships in Collaborative Watershed Groups: Lessons from the Pacific Northwest Experience

Brian C. Chaffin, Robert L. Mahler, J. D. Wulfhorst, Bahman Shafii

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Collaborative watershed group experiences reveal commonalities in their approaches to facilitate decentralized and inclusive watershed planning and management in the United States, and increasingly around the world. Although watershed groups are widely recognized in the United States for positive accomplishments across local, state, and regional scales, the role of government agencies as watershed group partners often remains ambiguous and inconsistent. This paper details results of a survey used to determine the status of Pacific Northwest (PNW) watershed group-agency partnerships relative to planning and management. Specific inquiry was directed toward: (1) the role of technical information flow; and (2) watershed group needs. Mail surveys were administered to 304 watershed group participants in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Sixty-nine percent of the surveys were completed and returned. Based on the collected survey data, PNW watershed groups rely heavily on agency officials for technical watershed information. Respondents perceive support of state government to be the highest relative to federal agencies, local governments, and university Extension offices. However, evidence from the survey suggests that partnerships are underutilized across all agencies and organizations concurrently vested in watershed planning and management in the PNW. Sustained operational funding, increased group participation, and baseline watershed data are the most pressing needs of PNW watershed groups and present a significant opportunity for expanding watershed group-agency partnerships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-68
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014


  • Agency partnerships
  • Collaborative watershed groups
  • Watershed management
  • Watershed planning


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