Winter 2002 Newsletter
Center Hosts Coastal Environmental Forum

Thirteen Groups Gather to Discuss Priorities and Strategies

In addition to the executive director, attending the session were Center board president Jim Henry, and board members Hal Wright and Charlie Belin, as well as Center advisor, John Train. Several of the workshop participants represented more than one group.

We held the half-day session so that representatives of environmental organizations with coastal interests could exchange ideas about priority issues and their strategies for addressing them. Although participating groups did not reach agreement on priorities or specific strategies, there was much valuable dialogue, raising questions that suggest the need for future collaboration.

Discussion focused on three broad ideas:

1.The need to formulate and com- municate an appropriate and compelling message for the public explaining (a) how these issues are relevant to them and (b) how our organization(s) can help resolve them. This entails striking a balance between taking constructive steps (or at least actions that are not perceived as ýobstructionist') with the continuing need to take legal action to improve enforcement of existing environmental laws. It also means that we need to make greater effort to explain the relationships between environmental quality and broader social objectivesˇincluding long-term economic potentialˇ that are impaired by compromised environmental protection.

2. The need to change the laws, rules, regulations, and other practices that favor the status quo. This includes making better use of scientific infor- mation, reducing fragmentation of authority and purview applied in regulation, and improving accounta- bility and follow-through in evaluating the effects of past permit decisions and actions.

3. The need to replace or otherwise transform the existing regulatory culture from one giving priority to accommodating the users of natural resources to one focused on resource protection, where the public replaces the permit applicant as 'customer.'

A copy of the forum summary is available from the Center in either hard copy or electronic file format. We encourage you to review it and to make suggestions for additional sessions where we can continue the dialogue on coastal environmental issues and strategies. Please don't be shy about sharing your ideas and opinions. Coastal Environmental Forum Participants:

  • Altamaha Riverkeeper
  • Center for a Sustainable Coast
  • Citizens for Environmental Justice
  • Coastal Georgia Land Trust
  • Conservation Research Institute
  • Defenders of Wild Cumberland
  • Georgians For Clean Energy, Coastal Office
  • Georgia Environmental Enforcement Project
  • Georgia Conservation Voters
  • Georgia Public Interest Research Group
  • League of Conservation Voters Education Fund
  • The Nature Conservancy, Altamaha River Bioreserve
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