Abstract: Opening Plenary Session  2:30 pm (BACK)

Challenges to Collaboration: What do we mean by “Multiple Needs” and why are they so hard to meet?

Julie McKay, M.A.
Boulder County Creek Recovery and Restoration Program
Boulder, Colorado

In the aftermath of the September 2013 flood event, it quickly became clear that if effective watershed recovery and restoration were to occur in any reasonable time frame, many different, often competing interests would need to work together constructively. To that end, Boulder County implemented a multijurisdictional collaborative planning approach to facilitate watershed recovery. This year-long initiative brought local, state, and federal agencies; ditch companies; special districts; landowners; non-governmental organizations; and other stakeholders into structured forums to develop watershed-level master plans for the most damaged creek corridors in the county. Each technical study included a customized public and stakeholder engagement process to identify community values and promote a common vision for watershed recovery. The recovery, restoration, and resiliency projects identified in the seven post-flood master plans are now being implemented by local communities and watershed coalitions throughout Boulder County. With the partnerships, organizational frameworks, and technical basis that were established during the planning phase, the expectation exists that collaboration will continue on a project level and result in multi-objective stream restoration projects. However, in spite of having a strong foundation for this continued collaboration, meeting the different needs and expectations of coalition participants, landowners, funding agencies, and project sponsors remains challenging. Using the watershed coalitions as a reference point, this presentation will identify the different challenges to collaboration that have been experienced and suggest different strategies to address them. It will also expand upon the concept of “multiple needs” to recognize that this approach is not only about developing projects that benefit different user groups and achieve multidisciplinary goals. To be truly successful, projects must also consider how a project is developed and how those involved feel along the way.