Collaborative planning and adaptive management in Glen Canyon: A cautionary tale

TitleCollaborative planning and adaptive management in Glen Canyon: A cautionary tale
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsSusskind, L, Camacho, A, Schenk, T
JournalColumbia Journal of Environmental Law
KeywordsAMP, collaborative adaptive management, collaborative planning, consensus, dispute resolution, ecosystem management, environmental management, Glen Canyon Dam, joint fact-finding, natural resource management, public participation, stakeholder engagement

The Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program (AMP) has been identified as a model for natural resource management. We challenge that assertion, citing the lack of progress toward a long-term management plan for the dam, sustained extra-programmatic conflict, and a downriver ecology that is still in jeopardy, despite over ten years of meetings and an expensive research program. We have examined the primary and secondary sources available on the AMP’s design and operation in light of best practices identified in the literature on adaptive management and collaborative decision-making. We have identified six shortcomings: (1) an inadequate approach to identifying stakeholders; (2) a failure to provide clear goals and involve stakeholders in establishing the operating procedures that guide the collaborative process; (3) inappropriate use of professional neutrals and a failure to cultivate consensus; (4) a failure to establish and follow clear joint fact-finding procedures; (5) a failure to produce functional written agreements; and (6) a failure to manage the AMP adaptively and cultivate long-term problem-solving capacity.