Environmental Management

, 41:143

Citizen Participation in Collaborative Watershed Partnerships


DOI: 10.1007/s00267-007-9040-z

Cite this article as:
Koehler, B. & Koontz, T.M. Environmental Management (2008) 41: 143. doi:10.1007/s00267-007-9040-z


Collaborative efforts are increasingly being used to address complex environmental problems, both in the United States and abroad. This is especially true in the growing field of collaborative watershed management, where diverse stakeholders work together to develop and advance water-quality goals. Active citizen participation is viewed as a key component, yet groups often struggle to attract and maintain citizen engagement. This study examined citizen participation behavior in collaborative watershed partnerships by way of a written survey administered to citizen members of 12 collaborative watershed groups in Ohio. Results for the determination of who joins such groups were consistent with the dominant-status model of participation because group members were not demographically representative of the broader community. The dominant-status model, however, does not explain which members are more likely to actively participate in group activities. Instead, individual characteristics, including political activity, knowledge, and comfort in sharing opinions with others, were positively correlated with active participation. In addition, group characteristics, including government-based membership, rural location, perceptions of open communication, perceptions that the group has enough technical support to accomplish its goals, and perceived homogeneity of participant opinions, were positively correlated with active participation. Overall, many group members did not actively participate in group activities.


Citizen participationCollaborative watershed managementStakeholder partnershipVolunteering

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Environment and Natural ResourcesThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA