ences discussed in previous chapters, there are processes that help managers to make the best possible decisions even in the face of difficult constraints (Dietz and Stern 1998). Most of the processes discussed in the literature are concerned with public decisions. These vary in scale and include legislative processes (such as, congressional hearings leading to legislation), to federal or state decision that have major effects (such as those requiring environmental impact statements), to decisions that are judged to have more limited impacts (such as decisions that require only environmental assessments). The specifics of the decision processes vary, but all have generally the same elements: definition of the problem and problem focus, analysis of the alternatives based on available facts, fair representation of the range of viewpoints concerned, and a structure for deliberation.
Congress has decreed that decisions regarding publicly owned resources must be open to public review and comment. Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), federal resource managers are required first to identify the kind of decision to be made and its potential ramifications. On the basis of the range of alternatives available, all germane issues must be presented to the public in a "scoping process" wherein key issues are identified and public input is recorded to ensure that relevant topics that concern participants are addressed. The record of public input and resulting analysis of potential effects must be made available in a draft document for a second round of public review before preparation of a final document that identifies the decision to be made, potential effects, and a range of reasonable alternatives (including an alternative of "no action") for review before the decision.
Most of the laws and regulations that shape the actions of managers of public and natural resources call for some form of public involvement in decision-making. Nearly all decisions about federal public lands fall under the requirements of NEPA or other broad laws (such as the Administrative Procedures Act) that mandate public input into decisions. But most researchers and practitioners acknowledge that the standard methods for public participation to meet these requirements (for example, hearings and letters commenting on draft plans or environmental impact statements) yield a great deal of heat and perhaps not much light (Chess and Purcell 1997; Cvetkovich and Earle 1994; Proctor 1998; Shannon 1991; Tuler 1995; Tuler and Webler 1995)
In the discussion that follows, a generic process known as analytic deliberation is discussed in some detail. It has grown out of frustration with the standard methods for public involvement and an awareness that the public trust is essential to good public policy and management decisions. That trust can come only when the public believes that it is engaged in the decision-making process in a meaningful, rather than pro forma, way. The point of analytic deliberation processes is that there are mechanisms to engage the public, respect the best available scientific analysis, find better solutions, build understanding, and nurture trust among all involved parties.
An analytic deliberative process is iterative. Analysis informs deliberation