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White House Conference on Cooperative Conservation Focuses on "Shared Governance"

Federal officials working for environmental, land-management, and wildlife agencies gathered in August with state, local, and tribal officials; nonprofit conservation organizations; and private landowners and businesses for the fourth-ever White House Conference on Cooperative Conservation. The first such conference was convened by Teddy Roosevelt in 1908 and set a 40-year course for conservation in the United States. This year’s theme, “Strengthening shared governance and citizen stewardship,” sought to celebrate what Interior Secretary Gail Norton called a new chapter built on “communication, consultation, and cooperation, in the name of conservation.” The three-day conference was organized by the Council on Environmental Quality, and co-hosted by the Departments of Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, and the Environmental Protection Agency. A number of facilitators, including PolicyConsensus Director Chris Carlson and NPCC Director Greg Wolf, led discussions around nine key topic areas such as expanding the roles of states, tribes, and local governments in cooperative conservation. In her opening remarks, Interior Secretary Norton described an initiative to develop cooperative conservation legislation to submit to Congress, though few details were offered about what the legislation would contain. Two days later, at the concluding plenary session – after Norton and other cabinet members had been summoned to Washington, D.C., to coordinate the emergency response to Hurricane Katrina – federal officials issued an invitation to conference participants to provide input on the proposed legislation. For updates and more information on the conference, visit PolicyConsensus.org.

Amy Lang
Amy Lang is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at the University of British Columbia. She wrote her dissertation on British Columbia’s groundbreaking Citizens’ Assembly process, and is currently doing follow-up research on the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly.

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