The Connecticut River Watershed: Using Adaptive Governance Arenas for Collaboration and Integration

  • David CherneyEmail author
  • Yuko Kurauchi
  • Alex McIntosh
Part of the Springer Series on Environmental Management book series (SSEM)


This chapter gives a contextual overview of large-scale conservation in the Connecticut River watershed of New England and identifies decision-making challenges that participants face. As New England’s largest river system, the Connecticut River watershed has ecological importance and a rich cultural heritage, but faces urban sprawl, habitat fragmentation, and nonpoint source pollution. A rapid assessment, conducted as a class project at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in 2004, examined the goals and strategies of five conservation groups, found that they share considerable common ground but often worked at cross-purposes. Problems included fragmented arenas, goal substitution, and limitations of the scientific management paradigm as persistent policy problems. Three likely future scenarios were envisioned: business as usual, competition and fragmentation among the groups, or—most promising—a larger, more collaborative, and integrated approach to river conservation. Three strategies—a decision seminar, problem orientation workshops, and practice-based learning—are recommended to help the groups find common ground, create a functional network, and transform the ineffective patchwork approach to a coordinated approach at a larger scale.


Large-scale conservation Connecticut River watershed Conservation planning Decision process Common ground 



The original form of this paper was a class project for a course taught by Susan Clark at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, “Large-scale Conservation: Integrating science, Management, and Policy.” It was significantly updated for this volume, first in 2006 and subsequently in 2008 and 2014. The original authors were David Cherney, Victoria Critchley, Heather Dempsey, Yuko Kurauchi, Alex McIntosh, Cesar Moran Cahusac, Kim Mortimer, Elizabeth Petruska, and Daniela Vizcaino. This team thanks the individuals who took the time to speak with us about the Connecticut River, in particular Kim Lutz (TNC), Stephen Garabedian (USGS), Beth Goettel (USGS), Whitty Sanford (CRWC), and Sharon Francis and the rest of the Connecticut River Joint Commission (CRJC). In addition, thank you to Susan Clark, Aaron M. Hohl, Catherine Picard, and Darcy Newsome for critically reviewing this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Yale School of Forestry and Environmental StudiesNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.UNDP Drylands Development CentreNairobiKenya
  3. 3.Ecomundi VenturesSan FranciscoUSA

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