Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Resource Conservation

Department or School/College

College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Chair

Martin Nie

Commitee Members

Jill Belsky, Matthew McKinney


barriers, BLM planning, natural resources planning, NEPA, public participation


University of Montana


Public participation can fundamentally improve natural resources planning and decision-making. On an ad hoc basis, it has been shown that public participation improves the durability and sustainability of plans and decisions; it increases the technical, consensus-building, and decision-making capacity of the public; it increases levels of trust; and it improves relationships between agency personnel and members of the public. Despite the proliferation of these new tools and strategies and their successful implementation, innovative and inclusive public participation methods have still not become widely integrated into the natural resources planning and administrative decision-making processes of federal agencies. Utilizing the Bureau of Land Management's Western Oregon Plan Revision process as a case study, this paper considers barriers to the regular inclusion of innovative and inclusive public participation methods in agency's planning and decision-making processes and provides some prescriptions for overcoming those barriers. Through analysis of this case study, I identify eight potential roadblocks to integrating innovative forms of public participation in natural resources planning and decision-making, including: 1) political context, 2) the purpose and need of the planning effort, 3) false expectations for public involvement, 4) geographic scope of the planning area, 5) the plan timeline, 6) federal budgetary pressure, 7) agency culture and individual attitudes towards public participation, and 8) the limitations of leadership



© Copyright 2007 Emily Ruth West