Date of Award

8-2010

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Forestry

Major Professor

David Ostermeier

Committee Members

Donald Hodges, Bruce Tonn

Abstract

Water resource issues continue to be a central focus of natural resource policy, due to the increasing pressures on water resources and the complex nature of water systems. There has been significant advancement in the recognition that water system health is dependent upon human activities and social understanding of the resource. This awareness has prompted the arrival of institutions that are concerned with helping society understand and support water resource improvement. Often referred to as watershed partnerships, these institutions typically function as collaborative bodies that highlight cooperation and water resource education. As resource pressures increase, so do the demands on these partnerships to produce tangible watershed improvement results. Assessments of watershed partnerships have therefore been developed to evaluate their work and results. The mainstream watershed partnership assessments have been criticized for their inability to capture partnership characteristics that lead to lasting watershed recovery and typically provide little insight for how these partnerships can improve. The need for partnership assessments that speak to these criticisms is becoming ever more imperative as we continue to confront modern water resource issues. This research focuses on the creation of an assessment tool that addresses these criticisms of conventional watershed assessments. The goals of this research were to 1) consult the literature concerned with partnership characteristics that lead to lasting watershed recovery, or sustainable water vi management 2) develop an assessment tool, based on the dominant themes found in the sustainable water management literature, and 3) test the tool on a mature local watershed partnership for future revision. The assessment tool that resulted from this research consists of two items: 1) a self-assessment survey concerned with structural and process elements of a partnership that lead to lasting watershed efforts, and 2) a survey guide that assists watershed management practitioners in understanding survey relevance and exploring their own structures and processes for improvement. These products were then tested and reviewed, which resulted in survey and survey guide revisions, and ultimately a practical and useful watershed partnership assessment tool.

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