Bend, OR United States of America
I had been working at the Deschutes River Conservancy for seven years when I learned about Kinship, and I was looking for an opportunity to explore new approaches to market-based conservation. I wanted to see what people in other geographic locations and other conservation fields were trying.
I knew from experience, for example, that water conservation organizations in Australia were facing similar challenges and could share their strategies for success. Kinship offered an opportunity to see the full gamut of other regions and other applications of market-based tools.
One of the comments made during the program was, "if you can't solve a problem, make it bigger," and that's what we've applied very successfully in my work. We've been trying to restore stream flow in the upper Deschutes River in a certain geographic area and we couldn't. Instead, we extended the geographic scope to include much more than we had before, and in doing that, ultimately we found a solution.
The negotiations tools were also valuable because they have helped me bring more players to the table and find ways to satisfy mutual interests while advancing water conservation objectives. We hadn't really gone through and looked at what our partner's needs were before. They talked about it, but they'd never been explicit to say, "I want regulatory certainty" or "we're worried about our position and want to see a way to stabilize our finances." And when they said that, it gave us a lot of room to work with them.
As a result of strategic planning and what I learned at Kinship, I have been able to scale up stream flow restoration efforts to incorporate larger landscapes and more partners. I realized that this was a more cost-effective approach. The traditional market-based tools that we use in the US can be really expensive to fund, which is why we're looking at these larger scale agreements because they're much more cost effective.
I’ve learned how to think strategically about partners who have vested interests in the results of their programs in order to maximize the potential for success. By applying the negotiation skills that I learned at Kinship, I found that everyone in the region had complementary interests in maintaining sustainable water flow levels. Irrigators tended to be concerned about regulatory risks, financial security, and losing water for their patrons; environmental groups want water to stay in the river to support fisheries and other biota; and cities are concerned about groundwater and long-term access to water. We looked at what each of these interest groups needs. We went into a whole series of interviews and said, "What do you need? What are your desires? Let's expressly work towards meeting those needs." What we found out was that these needs were complementary.
In the end, we're talking about a $1.5 million investment in planning in the basin that will be done in two years. Ultimately, what will come out of the study is a plan and a set of tools that we can use to meet all these needs immediately, to cooperate between all these water users and actually implement them.
“I’ve learned how to think strategically about partners who have vested interests in the results of their programs in order to maximize the potential for success. By applying the negotiation skills that I learned at Kinship, I found that everyone in the region had complementary interests in maintaining sustainable water flow levels.”