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Preserving & Promoting Collaborative Natural Resource Policy Making in Washington State

Collaborative Leadership Project Intro Video

The need

Washington state is where multiparty collaborative governance on natural resource issues began. Collaborative approaches have led to many groundbreaking policy outcomes in Washington such as the Timber/Fish/Wildlife (TFW) and Forest & Fish agreements; Chelan Agreement for water resource management; Tribes & Counties Intergovernmental Cooperation Project; Puyallup Land Claims Settlement; watershed management in places like the Nisqually Basin; Columbia River Salmon Recovery Boards; Shared Strategy for Salmon Recovery in Puget Sound and its predecessors; Puget Sound Partnership; Walla Walla Water Management; Yakima Basin Integrated Plan; Columbia Basin Partnership Task Force; and others. As it approaches the 50-year mark, there is agreement this history is unique, and that capturing it is important for preserving our legacy and knowledge.

But it is perhaps even more important for what it can teach current leaders and the next generation (not to mention the rest of the country and world) about how to do this important and challenging work, and make this type of progress. And yet no such history exists to provide this guidance. No one has assembled the stories of the issues, outcomes, and impacts of these landmark collaborations. No one has profiled the important figures involved, and added observations and insights about where we have been, and where we are going.

Now is the time to capture these histories and tell the story, so that we continue to benefit from the efforts of those who came before us, who worked so hard to establish better ways to resolve the complex challenges posed by natural resource management. This history provides a wealth of experience and examples of how to build relationships and collaboratively solve public problems. We need to convey this information to current and upcoming leaders, so they can understand, appreciate, and preserve this history, put their own stamp on it, and continue to address challenges this way.

“We will not succeed if we do not remember, understand, and pass on the history of this work to the next generation of leaders.”

Jodi Sandfort, Dean, UW Evans School of Public Policy & Governance

Project goals

The first step in preserving this legacy is to capture the narratives of those who were there when this history was made. The initial focus is oral history interviews with conveners, sponsors, participants, and practitioners from landmark natural resource collaborations. This will also include determining how to make the resulting oral histories and other source materials available long-term. It will then focus on turning the resulting source material into a documentary film that tells the story of natural resource collaboration from the 1970s to the present.

Such a documentary will serve as an outstanding way to commemorate important upcoming milestones such as the 50th anniversary of the Boldt Decision (which upheld tribal treaty fishing rights), the 40th anniversary of the salmon co-management relationship between the state and the tribes, and the unveiling of a statue of Billy Frank, Jr in the Washington state section of the US Capitol Rotunda.

Project partners and sponsors

The Collaborative Leadership Project is hosted by the UW Center for Urban Waters (CUW)/Puget Sound Institute (PSI). TVW, Washington’s public affairs network, is providing the project’s videography and production services. CUW estimates that funding the two-year effort will require $750,000 and invites other institutions, schools, departments, universities, public or private foundations, or private donors to join it in sponsoring the project. Federal, state, tribal, and local governments, as well as non-governmental and private organizations, may also be interested in sponsoring the effort and helping preserve this history, as their senior leaders are retiring, their history is at risk, recognition of the gains made through collaboration may be fading, and important milestones that this project could help commemorate are approaching.

If you would like to support the project with a gift online, visit the Center for Urban Waters Project Fund, and note that it is for the Collaborative Leadership Project in the Comments/Special Instructions box that will come up after you click on the “Give Now” and “Proceed to Check Out” buttons, and fill in the name, address, and card number details.

If you would rather give via check, you can make it out to UW Foundation, put “Center for Urban Waters Collaborative Leadership Project” in the memo field, and mail it to UW Tacoma (Attn: Diana Lopez), Box 358432, 1900 Commerce Street, Tacoma, WA. 98402.

To sponsor via a grant or contract, contact Project Lead Michael Kern via the contact information at the bottom of this page.

Sponsorships secured to date includes funding and pledges from Anchor QEA, Eric Camplin, Ann Goos, the Henry M. Jackson Foundation, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, Lummi Nation, Nisqually Tribe, Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, Puget Sound Partnership, Puget Sound Institute, Puyallup Tribe Charitable Trust, Seattle City Light, Sequoia Foundation, Squaxin Island Tribe, Suquamish Tribe/Suquamish Foundation, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, City of Tacoma Environmental Services, The Tulalip Tribes, Washington State Department of Agriculture, Washington State Department of Ecology, Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington State University Extension CED, and William D. Ruckelshaus Center.

Special thanks to the Project’s Tribal Advisory Committee members Willie Frank III and David Troutt (Nisqually Tribe), Doreen Maloney and Scott Schuyler (Upper Skagit Tribe), Paul Ward (Yakama Nation), Bobby Whitener (Squaxin Island Tribe), and Shawn Yanity (Stillaguamish Tribe).

“The natural resource collaboration that unfolded in Washington holds many keys to America’s future. Let us learn as much as we can from this remarkable history. This project deserves not only the support of local partners but of national organizations and funders.”

Marc Gerzon, President, Mediators Foundation; Author, The Reunited States of America

Key Project Personnel

Michael Kern

Michael Kern is serving as Project Lead and Content Co-Producer of the Collaborative Leadership Project. Michael is an Affiliate/Adjunct Professor at the UW Evans School of Public Policy & Governance, WSU Extension, and Seattle University; Principal of Michael Kern Consulting, LLC; and Director of Special Projects at UW’s Center for Urban Waters (CUW). In 2021, he wrapped up 12 years as Director of the William D. Ruckelshaus Center, a joint effort of WSU and UW that fosters collaborative public policy, including on natural resources. Michael has more than 30 years of experience, and a national reputation, as both a practitioner and an academic in the field of collaborative governance. He began his career at the Northwest Renewable Resources Center, working on several of the landmark collaborative processes that will be featured in this project. In addition to private practice, and leading large-scale collaborative processes for non-profit organizations, he has done so at both UW and WSU, and has been a Senior Associate at Triangle Associates, Inc.

Jennifer Huntley

Jennifer Huntley is serving as Content Co-Producer of the Collaborative Leadership Project. Jennifer is the host of TVW’s Washington to Washington (which follows how policy decisions in Washington, D.C. are impacting policy decisions in Washington state). Prior to her work on the show, Huntley both produced and hosted a number of election night specials for TVW. She also helped create and served as the original host for TVW’s weekly public affairs show, The Impact. Huntley spent ten years in local news as a reporter and anchor. She has covered everything from hurricanes to forest fires to the political climate of places like New Orleans, Louisiana. She was part of a team of journalists that was honored with a Peabody award for their coverage of Hurricane Katrina. Huntley graduated from New York University with a degree in Communications Studies.

Jim Waldo

CUW Board Chair Jim Waldo is serving as Project Advisor and Co-Executive Producer of the Collaborative Leadership Project, helping Project Lead Michael Kern build a broad partnership including tribal, state, federal, and local governments, non-governmental and private organizations, foundations and private donors, and other institutions. Jim was a Partner at Gordon Thomas Honeywell, which he joined in 1980, after working for the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He focuses his practice on complex negotiations, project permitting and implementation, representation of public and private entities in multi-party negotiations, with an emphasis on environmental issues including natural resources, energy, and tribal law. He earned his law degree from Willamette University School of Law, and his bachelor’s degree from Whitman College.

David Troutt

Nisqually Tribe Natural Resource Director David Troutt is serving as Project Advisor and Co-Executive Producer of the Collaborative Leadership Project. David has served as the natural resources director for the Nisqually Indian Tribe since 1987. Throughout his career at the Tribe, he worked closely with the late Billy Frank, Jr. He also serves as chair of the Nisqually River Council and president of the Nisqually River Foundation, and is Chair of the Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Council. David previously served on the Washington Biodiversity Council, Executive Committee of the Tri-County Response to the Endangered Species Act, Development Committee of the Shared Strategy for Puget Sound, Steering Committee for the Hatchery Reform Project, and as a member of the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest Resource Advisory Committee. Mr. Troutt received his Bachelor of Science degree from the UW School of Fisheries.

Joel Baker

CUW Science Director and Puget Sound Institute Director Joel Baker is serving as a Project Advisor for the Collaborative Leadership Project, helping Michael Kern build a broad partnership including tribal, state, federal, and local governments, non-governmental and private organizations, foundations and private donors, and other institutions. Joel holds the Port of Tacoma Chair in Environmental Science. He earned a B.S. degree in Environmental Chemistry from SUNY Syracuse and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Minnesota. His research interests center about the transport of organic contaminants in the environment, specifically atmospheric transport and deposition, aerosol chemistry, the dynamics of contaminant transport in estuaries, and modeling the exposure and transfer of bioaccumulative chemicals in aquatic food webs. He teaches courses in water quality modeling, environmental chemistry, and quantitative methods.

Renee Radcliff Sinclair

Renee Radcliff Sinclair has served as president and CEO of TVW, Washington’s national award-winning public affairs network since 2015. Prior to joining TVW, Renee served as a print journalist, member of the Washington State House of Representatives, and lobbyist at the state and federal levels. She continues to serve her community through a variety of local government, policy-related appointments. TVW is providing videography and production services for the Collaborative Leadership Project.