Understanding the social and economic landscape is important for nature-based projects. Unfortunately, many standard USACE business practices present institutional obstacles for identifying stakeholders and learning about their roles in local and regional ecology. These include: the nature of USACE project development and execution; job mobility of personnel; treatment of stakeholder engagement as “other duties as assigned;” and inattention to the context of stakeholders’ lives. USACE guidance on stakeholder participation concentrates on methods for outreach and collaboration, not on equity in stakeholder identification and engagement. This proposed work provides a model for overcoming these institutional obstacles and for building the knowledge base necessary for cultivating long-term and inclusive relationships with stakeholders.
The methodology will facilitate a rapid and accurate characterization of obstacles, barriers, and opportunities to proposed projects posed by the social and economic context at multiple scales, thus enabling planners and designers to effectively prepare for collaboration with the public and for the public to engage in decision-making. The methodology will guide development of a StoryMap that will support shared understanding of stakeholder equities and facilitate decisions regarding the inevitable tradeoffs of who benefits and how, given available alternatives. Use of the methodology will ensure that a wider array of relevant stakeholders is represented in stakeholder engagement, particularly those who historically have been underrepresented.