Land Use & Natural Resources

As human populations grow, demands on natural resources continue to intensify. Land use and environmental policy must keep pace with ever-changing science, economies, technologies, and resource conditions, with attention to climate change implications. Increasing complexities also creates new opportunities for multi-benefit and multi-interest solutions. Kearns & West’s respected role in the land use and natural resources sector has roots in decades of proven success in designing and conducting effective process for collaboration and public involvement.

Kearns & West specializes in:

Sample Projects

      American Wind Wildlife Institute (AWWI) - Landscape Scale Conservation Planning


      The American Wind Wildlife Institute (AWWI) is a first-of-its-kind independent, nonprofit collaboration among the wind industry, state wildlife agencies, environmentalists, and conservationists whose mission is to facilitate wind energy development, while protecting wildlife and its habitat. During the founding years, Kearns & West provided strategic advice. Since March 2010, Kearns & West principal Abby Arnold has served as the executive director of AWWI. Kearns & West facilitates Board of Directors and Committee meetings and conference calls, assists with hiring and managing staff, and supports the development and implementation of AWWI’s four initiatives (mapping, research, mitigation, and education/outreach). We coordinate closely with the Board of Directors, and oversee all aspects of the organization’s financial, programmatic, and administrative tracking. Abby Arnold of Kearns & West received an American Wind Energy Association 2009 Wind Energy Special Achievement award for her role in helping to found the American Wind Wildlife Institute and received Women of Wind Energy Woman of the Year leadership award in 2010.

      California Department of Parks and Recreation - California Parks Forward Initiative


      The Parks Forward Initiative was initiated to improve efficiency, increase accessibility and help the California State Parks System better meet the needs of the state’s growing and changing population. The Initiative process produced a long-term plan for a financially sustainable and functionally relevant State Parks System that provides an innovative park system model for the rest of the nation. Kearns & West designed and facilitated a series of internal focus groups to identify staff interests and concerns. We also designed and facilitated a series of public workshops throughout California to solicit input on how to improve efficiency, create financial sustainability, and better leverage partnerships with California State Parks. Kearns & West developed summary findings reports for the focus groups and public workshops, and these findings were presented to the Parks Forward Commission.

      California Department of Toxic Substances Control- Environmental Impact Report for the Santa Susana Field Laboratory Cleanup, Ventura and Los Angeles Counties


      Cleanup planning for the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, located at the Los Angeles and Ventura counties border and impacted by chemical and radioactive contamination, is one of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control’s (DTSC) most controversial projects. In addition to heightened community stress due to health concerns, major issues include projected years of truck traffic to haul off contaminated soil and impacts to valuable natural habitat from soil and groundwater cleanup actions. For the Program Environmental Impact Report, Kearns & West managed public involvement to meet the requirements of California Environmental Quality Act, DTSC communication guidelines, and the specific needs and issues of the project. Tasks included writing and producing informational materials on highly technical subject matter, massive noticing distributions, facilitation of highly contentious public meetings, and public input documentation. Furthermore, the Kearns & West team played an instrumental role in developing public involvement strategies to address some of the community’s most pressing concerns, including a series of public workshops to address earth materials transport options and a fact sheet summarizing treatability studies that could reduce off-site materials transport. In addition to conducting facilitation and crisis communication training with the technical team, Kearns & West facilitators are valued by DTSC for planning and facilitating meetings with high potential for disruption and are called on by DTSC to support public meetings on other projects.

      Oregon Consensus - Willamette Partnership and Senate Bill 513 Working Group


      The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board convened the Willamette Partnership and Oregon Ecosystem Services Markets Working Group under the direction of Senate Bill 513. Kearns & West facilitated the Working Group. The Working Group studied and proposed overarching goals and developed an ecosystem marketplace in the Willamette Basin. The Partnership developed and implemented new conservation tools and policy intended to deliver broader conservation results, at a lower cost, and with less conflict than traditional approaches. The Partnership developed a consistent methodology to describe and quantify ecological values; made recommendations concerning the development of appropriate ecological evaluation and accounting systems; considered the appropriate role of government participation in ecosystem services markets; and proposed potential policies to help stimulate demand for payments for ecosystem services, in particular the development of regulatory and voluntary ecosystem services markets.

      Ormond Beach Coastal Restoration and Public Access Plan


      The coastline and associated wetlands at Ormond Beach provide some of the most valued habitat for sensitive species in California. This project advances earlier vision and planning concepts for restoration, integrating the latest sea level rise data, data from current conservation efforts, and public access needs. Working with the three project partners – California Coastal Conservancy, City of Oxnard, and The Nature Conservancy – Kearns & West planned for and is conducting public meetings with the goal of expanding the diversity of community members and stakeholders involved in the planning and deepening long-term stewardship of Ormond Beach.

      Sustainable Northwest - Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program Work Group


      Kearns & West provided strategic project management and neutral third-party facilitation for the Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program (OAHP) Work Group (work group). The Oregon Governor’s office convened the work group to work with landowners, tribal governments, agencies, and interested organizations to identify voluntary tools to help landowners maintain working farms and ranches while providing incentives and support for conservation benefits on those lands. The work group included staff from the Governor’s office, state agencies, and representatives of the farming, ranching, conservation, and land trust communities. Kearns & West facilitated work group meetings and a retreat which resulted in developing a legislative bill concept that gained consensus from all work group members. The legislative bill concept went through the legislative process and House Bill 3249 (OAHP) was passed by the Oregon legislature.

      U.S. Bureau of Reclamation- Contra Loma Resource Management and Recreation Plan


      When initiating the Contra Loma Reservoir and Recreation Area Resource Management Plan, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation understood that multiple stakeholder interests and concerns would surface, given the plan’s primary emphasis of protecting the water supply and quality of Contra Loma Reservoir while balancing the management of natural and cultural resources with enhancements to recreational uses within Contra Loma. Its co-management by the City of Antioch, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and East Bay Regional Parks District increased the complexity of the planning process. Kearns & West became an important member of the project team, leading facilitation and process design. Kearns & West developed a Public Involvement Plan, informed by stakeholder interviews, to guide communication and engagement efforts to inform the development of the plan. Kearns & West also facilitated a series of interactive public workshops and provided strategic guidance on coordination and communication among partner agencies to support the development of the plan and Environmental Impact Statement. The Environmental Impact Statement was finalized and a Record of Decision issued in 2015, choosing the alternative that shifted Contra Loma’s management direction toward enhancement of current recreational uses and facilities, which was expressed as a priority during the stakeholder engagement process.

      U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - Voluntary Wetlands Restoration Strategic Communications


      The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Voluntary Wetlands Restoration and Protection program’s mission is to increase awareness of and investment in wetland restoration and protection. Kearns & West is managing a strategic communications initiative to build awareness of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Voluntary Wetlands initiatives. The strategic communications plan was informed by interviews and small group activities and an audience mapping exercise that identified key stakeholders and relationships. Kearns & West is implementing the communications plan which includes revamping messaging and the Voluntary Wetlands’ website.