People and Conflicts in Dammed New England Landscapes

Authors: Natallia Leuchanka*, University of New Hampshire, Catherine M. Ashcraft, University of New Hampshire
Topics: Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Sustainability Science, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: dams, stakeholders, New England, qualitative methods, sustainability science
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 2:00 PM / 3:40 PM
Room: Jefferson, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Increased demand to participate in environmental decision-making around highly contentious and "wicked" problems has shaped the need for participatory processes that prioritize learning and consensus building. Consensus building addresses one of the core issues and downfalls of hard-bargaining approaches to negotiations over water resources: not having the right or all relevant stakeholders represented. Before deciding whether a consensus building process is appropriate for dealing with a natural resource management issue, and if so, who should be involved and what issues should be addressed, a stakeholder assessment needs to be conducted. Such an assessment was conducted as part of the interdisciplinary “Future of Dams” project, for which the goal is to better understand how science is used in decision-making around current and future management of dams in New England. Due to their influence on environmental, economic, and social systems, as well as their inherent trade-offs, dams and decisions surrounding their management serve as examples of "wicked" problems. As aging infrastructure, safety concerns, and interests in ecological restoration lead to more New England communities being required to address the future of their dams, it becomes necessary to better understand the social context within which decisions are being made. This presentation will cover key steps of conducting stakeholder assessments, including stakeholder identification, data collection, data analysis (including use of NVivo software), and will conclude with preliminary results. The presentation will also address next steps, including use of results to design and implement a science-based role-play negotiation simulation around dam management.

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