The Etowah Habitat Conservation Plan outreach program: a social networks based approach to public participation and stakeholder involvement
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This paper and presentation describe the unique outreach and public participation program supplementing the development of the Etowah Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP)—a planning effort involving the local governments drained by the Etowah river and several regional, state and national ecological research and resource management agencies including the University of Georgia, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Georgia Conservancy and Upper Etowah River Alliance. The HCP outreach program uses a social networks based approach towards gathering input and community involvement by focusing on the structural and interactional criteria of community social networks (Stokowski, 1994). That is, by focusing on network linkages among community members, and the roles that community members play in social networks, the HCP outreach program and planning process become local movements created, driven and supported by community members, rather than simply programs created by outsiders, in which local residents participate in but do not create or design. This talk and paper address the theoretical basis for using a networks based approach towards outreach, as well as the components and objectives of outreach program itself and the HCP advisory committee’s developing plans to document and evaluate the success of the outreach program.