Geographical frame analysis of environmental conflict : a case study of Bolinas Lagoon

This case study applies geographical frame analysis to the Bolinas Lagoon restoration planning process. Two conflicting frames of restoration are identified based on interviews with government and non-governmental organization stakeholders, and the extent of consensus for restoration among study participants is evaluated. According to the narrative of frame one, sediment accretion is degrading the ecological value of Bolinas Lagoon and large scale sediment dredging is conceptualized as a restoration solution that will re-establish subtidal habitat conditions at the lagoon. In contrast, within frame two Bolinas Lagoon is conceptualized as a healthy estuary that can be made healthier through non-invasive and primarily land-use based restoration measures including watershed restoration. In contrast to frame one, frame two portrays sediment dredging as ecologically detrimental and non-sustainable. Frame analysis was also used to explore the types of information and knowledge participants privileged in their descriptions of Bolinas Lagoon restoration to understand how the conflicting frames developed. Participants supported restoration frames with local, science, and policy knowledge as well as an environmental framework. Dengler’s heuristic of “knowledge spaces” in collaborative planning is identified as a potential model to resolve conflict in this restoration planning process. This case study contributes to understandings of how geographical frame analysis can be used to clearly define points of conflict among stakeholders engaged in contentious environmental planning, with the goal of facilitating conflict resolution.