ABSTRACT

Of the myriad factors that influence environmental conflict and its resolution, few are perceived to be more important than the role of profes-

sional facilitators. In a recent review of the empirical research on multistakeholder watershed partnerships, effective facilitation and coordination was second only to financial resources as the most frequently cited factor deemed important for success. l Twenty-one of the 37 studies concluded that effective coordination, facilitation, or both promoted success, and no study suggested that skillful coordination and facilitation might impede success. The academic interest in facilitation mirrors the attention that it receives from watershed managers and interest groups, for whom the most active public policy debate since the mid-1990s has been whether state governments should support stakeholder-based planning by providing money to hire dispute resolution professionals in each local watershed. At least four states (Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, and Ohio) currently provide such funding. Other states, including California, periodically propose legislation to do so (thus far unsuccessfully). At the federal level, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency funds coordinators and facilitators through the Watershed Assistance Grants program and the Clean Water Act 319h planning grants.