sions and, in some cases, usefulness (Wilkinson, 1992). This is not to say these organizations and the laws they support were not sensible when they were created, during an era when resources were believed to be inexhaustible, but rather that societal values and needs have changed. The institutions responsible for managing our natural resources may well be the most significant barriers to the adoption of new, more integrated approaches to management (Kessler, 1992, 1994; Slocombe, 1993; and Grumbine, 1994).

Research is needed to provide a better understanding of how people and institutions can be more effective. Stankey and Clark (1992), in studying the social aspects of implementing new approaches in forestry, identified six general areas for research that are appropriate here as well: integrating social values; understanding public values for resources; public acceptance of management approaches; public participation mechanisms; structure, procedures, and values of natural resource organizations; and forums for debating issues. In a companion study on institutional barriers and incentives for ecosystem management, Cortner et al., (1996) identified five problem areas where social science research might help improve our ability to implement new approaches to management:

  • the extent to which existing laws policies, and programs may constrain or aid implementation;
  • institutional mechanisms for managing across jurisdictions;
  • internal organizational changes and new arrangements among resource agencies and the public;
  • theoretical principles underlying natural resource management; and
  • methodological approaches for researching institutional questions.

Such research can help build our understanding of current social values and how these values can be integrated into management strategies.


Documentary histories, field visits, workshops, and the experiences of individual committee members lead us to several conclusions about organization for watershed management. While these conclusions apply in many cases, there are also many exceptions because of local or regional variation.

Organize according to watershed boundaries for direct hydrologic management and related scientific research. The inherent nature of the hydrologic system is that it is organized according to nested watersheds, so organizations that deal primarily with the water resource should be organized in the same fashion. Integrative scientific research focusing on water and closely related resources should take advantage of the natural geographic characteristics of hydrologic systems.

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