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Author      Title/Abstract      

Herding Cats: Coordinating Stakeholders and 15 Jurisdictions to Reach One Successful Outcome
Author: Terry Cole
Date: 12/02

Coordinating officials from 15 jurisdictions and four counties can be considered a daunting task, regardless of the scenario. When the effort is aimed at producing successful implementation strategies to protect a multi-jurisdictional river across a broad and diverse watershed, the challenge can seem even more discouraging. However, when the right approach is employed, a successful outcome can be reached as demonstrated by the Alcovy Watershed Protection Project conducted in north Georgia. Using an approach based on establishing credibility for the process with the area’s stakeholders, the Northeast Georgia Regional Development Center and Brown and Caldwell overcame a variety of obstacles including logistics (what attracts an elected official to a meeting 40 miles away – free breakfast!), negative relationships (can the upstream “polluter” and his downstream “victim” share the same space?), and differing needs (will recommendations for a heavily developed community be the right fit for its rural and slowly changing neighbor?). This strategic initiative brought the major players to the table, and encouraged busy public officials to appoint lieutenants endowed with decision-making authority, to create a workable plan for managing protection of the watershed that also met regulatory requirements for compliance.