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Collaborative groups -- loosely defined as groups of people working together to achieve a common purpose and share resources – are emerging in Idaho and around the West.i Collaborative groups often form where there are intense and complex conflicts over natural resource management. Often these conflicts spin off into lawsuits, lost jobs and frequently, fractured community relationships. Many people are turning to each other, believing “there has to be a better way.”

Federal agencies, largely the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM), manage about two-thirds of the land in Idaho. On these federal lands, collaborative partners try to work among themselves, and within the federal laws and decision-making authorities held by agency managers. Several Idaho collaborative groups have worked on federal land management projects in recent years. Others have worked on a combination of federal and/or state and private land, using federal agencies as partners.ii

In the late summer of 2001, we asked 30 participants from six collaborative groups across Idaho to share thoughts and reflections about the collaborative process in which they have been involved. Each received a short-answer survey of approximately 20 questions.

Eighteen participants (60 percent) responded. Because no specific collaborative group was identified in the survey’s cover letter, a few of those surveyed provided information on other collaborative processes in which they have participated. Appendix A explains the survey methods, and includes the survey questions.

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