Environmental Management

, 41:143 | Cite as

Citizen Participation in Collaborative Watershed Partnerships



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 participation Collaborative watershed management Stakeholder partnership Volunteering 



The authors thank the many watershed group members who contributed their time and perspectives by participating in this study, the watershed group leaders who facilitated data collection and shared insights, and Joseph Arvai and Joseph Bonnell for helpful comments. Funding was provided by the Ohio State University School of Environment and Natural Resources.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

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

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