The Humboldt Bay Initiative: Integrating People and Natural Resources in Northern California

  • Rebecca Price-HallEmail author
  • Aaron M. Hohl
  • Susan Schlosser
Part of the Springer Series on Environmental Management book series (SSEM)


The case presented in this chapter provides a prototype for using collaborative processes in large-scale conservation. The most important lesson of the chapter is that developing a program that addresses real-world social and environmental problems in ways that truly meet the common interest is both slow and time consuming. The Humboldt Bay Initiative (HBI) is composed of scientists, resource managers, and community members who came together to address the environmental problems of Humboldt Bay and its surrounding lands. The initial impetus for the group’s formation was frustration with the existing arena for addressing natural resource issues in the region. The arena featured polarized public discourse, fragmented jurisdictions, and decision making that was insufficiently contextual, both socially and biophysically. In its place, the group adopted an ecosystem-based management approach that is not only rooted in ecological science but also recognizes the importance of using governance mechanisms to solve environmental problems. Its successes to date have relied on strong leadership and robust collaboration among stakeholders. Its future depends on developing an institutional structure that enables it to interface with policy makers despite the fact that the current governance and constitutive structures are not designed to allow an independent group such as HBI to integrate easily into the decision-making processes.


Large-scale conservation Prototype Humboldt Bay Initiative Collaborative learning Bridging organization Action research Evaluation research Ecosystem-based management Conservation Measures Partnership Climate change 



This document was supported in part by the National Sea Grant College Program of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and produced under NOAA grant number NA10OAR4170060, project number A/EA-AR-12 through the California Sea Grant College Program. The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of any of those organizations. We appreciate the many participants who have devoted countless hours of time to the task of improving the management and understanding of the Humboldt Bay ecosystem. The Humboldt Bay Initiative gratefully thanks funders for various program activities conducted between 2006 and 2012: California Coastal Conservancy, David and Lucille Packard Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program, Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment. We also thank Stefan Hall, Susan Clark, and Catherine Picard for providing feedback on drafts of this chapter.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebecca Price-Hall
    • 1
    Email author
  • Aaron M. Hohl
    • 2
  • Susan Schlosser
    • 3
  1. 1.City of TrinidadTrinidadUSA
  2. 2.Department of Forestry and Wildland ResourcesHumboldt State UniversityArcataUSA
  3. 3.University of California Sea Grant ProgramEurekaUSA

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