Good Folks and Watershed Values: An Assessment of the Collaborative Approach to Watershed Management in Five Central Texas Watersheds
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The value of the collaborative approach to watershed management is widely accepted, yet evaluative techniques to measure the effectiveness of this approach remain underdeveloped. In order to contribute to a standardized methodology, this study develops a survey that coalesces evaluative criteria from previous works and can be generally applied to participatory watershed management programs. A mixed-methods approach is used to test this framework in five watersheds administered by the Texas Nonpoint Source Management Program. Results of the survey suggest that in these watersheds, characteristics of the planning process such as representativeness and plan quality can be linked to positive social outcomes such as an increase in legitimacy and social learning. These social outcomes influence stakeholder perceptions of ecological improvement. However, no linkage was found between process characteristics and ecological outcomes, suggesting the need for greater emphasis on stakeholder management in planning stages and a re-characterization of stakeholders prior to the implementation of watershed protection plans. A descriptive analysis details the strengths and weaknesses of these programs and recommendations are made accordingly.