Understanding Environmental Policy Constraints in the Red Cedar Watershed
University of Wisconsin--Stout
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This research project aims to understand policy actors—practitioners, policy makers, officials and organization members—who influence the creation, implementation, enforcement and public perception of environmental regulations in the Red Cedar Watershed. This study focused on political actors’ views of land use and water pollution in the watershed, current policies and programs aimed at cleaning local lakes, and the decision-making behaviors behind current and proposed environmental policies. Data were collected during participant observations at public meetings, such as County Board committee Meetings, City Council meetings, and strategic planning sessions. Additionally, 19 Interviews were conducted with policy actors at different agencies, levels of government, and NGOs, including actors from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR); Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP); Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRSC); Dunn County Land Conservation Division (County LCD); Dunn County Board; City of Menomonie; University of Wisconsin-Extension (UW-Extension); and Tainter/Menomin Lake Improvement Association (TMLIA). My findings reflect the complex political structure of environmental policy and legal and political constraints on policy makers. First, several agencies provide similar services such as technical assistance, programs and grants, which could cause confusion within the community and across agencies in terms of which entity is the leading agency for a particular issue, especially water quality.This is primarily reflected in the responsibilities and relationship between DNR, DATCP, County LCD and NRCS. Many respondents voiced a concern for funding for staff positions and activities for cost-sharing, which is impeded by a lack of political support from the federal and state government. Additionally, there is a shift away from traditional enforcement of environmental policy toward providing incentives for voluntary compliance and behavioral change. More funding directed toward staffing positions to do the one-on-one consultations is needed to build trust and change norms is crucial. In addition, more communication and directed leadership within and across agencies is recommended.
Environmental Studies at Brown University