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Stakeholder Participation in Watershed Management Negotiations: A Case Study from the Klamath River, Oregon & California
AuthorHorangic, Alexandra M.
AdvisorBerry, Kate A.
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In water governance, where problems are controversial and value laden, different forms of stakeholder involvement in environmental dispute resolution and collaborative techniques have become more common, and in many circumstances have been required. Stakeholder participation is often recognized as fundamental to the legitimacy and success of negotiated environmental dispute decisions, but the intricacies of what influences stakeholders' participation has received less attention. This thesis examines factors that influenced stakeholder participation in the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement of 2010. The thesis considers water as a part of power relationships of everyday life, which subjects it to social struggles along class, ethnic, and political lines for access and/or control. Also, that the power dynamics within/between stakeholder organizations is complex. The research draws on in-depth, semi-structured interviews of a sample recruited from stakeholder organizations in the Klamath River Basin (an interstate basin). Interviewees consisted of representatives from state and federal agencies, tribes, commercial fishing organizations, irrigation agencies, conservation organizations, and a utility company. Data analysis was completed using a qualitative grounded theory approach and results indicate that stakeholder participation is influenced by stakeholder objectives, past experiences, relationships, the political and geographic context, process legitimacy, the regulatory framework, personal values and identity, process support and progress, and process results. Factors that influenced participation in the Klamath context are consistent with factors influencing participation discussed in the literature but add a more nuanced and contextualized understanding of the dynamics that influence participation and its implications. This work suggests that the factors that influence participation not only inform whether stakeholders chose to participate (or not), but also informs how they participate in negotiated environmental dispute decisions.