When looking at the “Who” of environmental engagement, there are two considerations to take into account: how similar or different do groups compare to one another, and identifying stakeholders. In understanding who’s involved in engagement, it is important to be able to identify valid stakeholders.
In a general sense, stakeholders are “any group of people organized, who share a common interest or stake in a particular issue or system” (Luyet et al., 2012). More specifically, there is a process for evaluating who is a valid stakeholder, other than simply acknowledging they belong to one of these groups. This process involves characterizing stakeholders by social values, economic values, legitimacy, urgency, proximity, (among others) and degrees of involvement include information, consultation, collaboration, co-decision, and empowerment (Luyet et al., 2012).
Another important consideration when discussing the Who in environmental engagement is to consider how similar or different people are from one another. In looking at an issue like climate change, it is vital to consider where people actually stand on the issue and not assume most are concerned about it. For example, Yale’s program on climate change communication published a project that showed that out of the Americans that took the survey, 31% are alarmed, and 26% are concerned. While 57% of worried people is the largest chunk, and communicates that most Americans are concerned about climate change, it still shows data pointing to the fact that climate change is debatable in certain communities. This website points to the notion that we can be quite different in our mental processes.
On the contrary, studies from groups like the Heterodox Academy point to the idea that we are more alike than not alike from one another, but need diversity and strong structure in research and discussions to achieve productive goals. These websites explore the positives and negatives regarding if people are more similar versus different from one another. Generally speaking, the evidence points towards the notion that people are more similar to one another and have similar goals.
When looking at the stakeholders involved with CRITFC, a large variety of groups come together to form this organization. Mainly run by the four tribes surrounding the Columbia River, CRITFC is also composed of enforcement officers that help the tribes manage and enforce fishing policies and protection. Alongside the enforcement officers, the tribes also work with the US Fish and Wildlife service to create better management of fish in the Columbia River. Also aiding CRITFC are hired lawyers and policy analysts that help sustain and protect the validity of previous treaties and native rights to tribal fishing in the Columbia River.
The CRITFC Fish Science Department also plays an important role in the organization, managing and creating tribal hatchery sites and research to create better understanding and sustainability of salmon and other fish vital to the river. Finally, CRITFC furthers their outreach on fishing education and provides education programs for Native American Youth to promote fish culture among children and works to integrate tribal culture with ecological knowledge to promote better fish management along the Columbia River. Together these stakeholders share a common interest of protecting native rights to fishing and promoting effective management of fishing in the Columbia River. They also share the common interest of protecting the geographic location of the Columbia River as their livelihoods are mainly based on its success. Together they share the interest of spreading their common view of how management should look like along the Columbia River through education of tribal treaty rights to the general public.
In almost any issue, there are stakeholders whose perspectives aren’t considered, but they are still affected by the issue, and this remains true in the case of CRITFC and the Columbia River Basin. There are many neglected stakeholders in this case, which have interests that are both opposed and aligned with that of CRITFC.
First, we can see that there are multiple neglected stakeholders whose interests align with that of CRITFC. U.S taxpayers have paid over $8 billion the last two decades to several federal agencies in failed attempts to restore salmon runs which involve loading them in trucks to move them through dams (instead of removing obstructive dams). In addition to taxpayers, local economies are beneficiaries of healthy salmon populations. For example, salmon fishing has an economic impact of $100 million per year in Puget Sound; there has also been a “post-development loss of more than $13 billion in commercial salmon harvest in the Columbia basin” (The Seattle Times, 2018).
Not everyone wants to see the goals of CRITFC succeed. Notable neglected stakeholders that have interests opposed to that of CRITFC, include northwest hydroelectric operations, whose interests lie in direct opposition. Dams threaten salmon populations, as they obstruct their migration upstream to their spawning grounds, and their removal would be of great benefit to salmon, and therefore CRITFC. However, they also have important upsides: hydropower is a clean, renewable energy resource that provides power to communities in the Pacific Northwest at an inexpensive cost, and also provides 100,000 jobs to the region. Federal and non-federal dams in the Columbia River Basin provide enough electricity in a year to power eight and five Seattle-sized cities, respectively.
Ultimately, there are many groups of people and organizations that are stakeholders in the issue of salmon in the Columbia River Basin that CRITFC finds itself concerned with. Many of these work directly with CRITFC to work towards their goals of restoring Columbia River salmon runs. Some are absolutely affected by their interests and wish to see them fulfilled, but they are overlooked as stakeholders. On the contrary, there are the neglected hydroelectric operations who are in direct benefit from the dams that obstruct the salmon, but the clean power and jobs they provide are often overshadowed by the importance of restoring salmon.
Bogaard, Joseph. n.d. “Why Remove The 4 Lower Snake River Dams?” Save Our Wild Salmon. Accessed March 9, 2020. https://www.wildsalmon.org/facts-and-information/why-remove-the-4-lower-snake-river-dams.html#Taxpayers.
Bonneville Power Administration. n.d. “Economic Benefits.” Bonneville Power Administration. Accessed March 9, 2020. https://www.bpa.gov/Hydroflowshere/Pages/Economic-Benefits.aspx.
Luyet, Vincent, Rodolphe Schlaepfer, Marc B. Parlange, and Alexandre Buttler. November, 2012. “A Framework to Implement Stakeholder Participation in Environmental Projects.” Journal of Environmental Management 111: 213–19. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2012.06.026.
Northwest Power and Conservation Council. n.d. “Hydropower.” Northwest Power and Conservation Council. Accessed March 9, 2020. https://www.nwcouncil.org/reports/columbia-river-history/hydropower.
The Seattle Times. February 7, 2018 . “Disappearance of Wild Salmon Hurts Local Economy.” The Seattle Times. The Seattle Times Company. https://www.seattletimes.com/sponsored/disappearance-of-wild-salmon-hurts-local-economy/.
Yale University. n.d. “Global Warming’s Six Americas.” Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. Accessed March 9, 2020. https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/about/projects/global-warmings-six-americas/.