Closing the Floodgates: Applying a Simplified Five-Step Adaptive Management Model to Resource Conservation Planning On Private Land in Sonoma County, California

Purpose The purpose of this study is to compare current methods of planning resource conservation projects on private land with conclusions drawn from field work and to identify changes that could improve the planning process. Problem Statement California resource conservation planning guides are ineffective at describing a program for field practice on private land. Objectives This study has three objectives: first is to identify the current planning practices recommended by relevant California agencies for forest and watershed conservation planning on private land; the second is to draw conclusions about the recommended practices; and the last objective is to suggest improvements to recommended planning practices. Methods Current practice manuals in resource conservation planning are examined and field work attempted according to the clearest models. Weaknesses and strengths of model methods are noted from the field work. Suggested improvements and a new resource conservation planning model are offered. Objective One is met by an analysis of current recommended planning models recommended for resource planning on private land in California. Objective Two is met by evaluating the effectiveness of the current recommended models through comparison with the experience of attempting to apply them in the field. iv Objective Three is met by proposing a new model for conservation planning on private land in California which will improve the process by incorporating concepts from field work and from other US conservation planning models. Findings The current best academic model for resource conservation planning on private land consists of a four-step process: Inventory, Strategic Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation. Although this academic model is the most effective for field practice, California practice guides ignore it, creating an environment of confusion in practical planning in the field. The model also fails to include a critical preliminary planning step, sometimes referred to as the project “Start-Up,” including such functions as project pre planning and fund sourcing. The planning guides also overemphasize stakeholder involvement at the outset of project planning, necessitating a reexamination of stakeholder involvement in relation to projects occurring on private land. Conclusion Current planning guides are inadequate in three respects: they do not adequately employ an adaptive management model, they do not adequately describe preliminary planning methods, and they over emphasize the role of stakeholders in project planning based upon practices gleaned from public land planning. California planning guides need to be updated to include a clear and succinct adaptive management model, preliminary planning steps, and the role of stakeholders in project planning on private land needs to be redefined. A new adaptive management model is offered and model preliminary planning processes are suggested for the improvement of this field. The Strategic Planning, Implementation and Evaluation stages will be improved by improving the Preliminary Planning and Inventory phases and so should be subjects for further study.