Leading Out in the Planning Process - Resource Assessment
The resource assessment is a document that outlines information about the natural resource needs and issues in an area. The following are steps to preparing the resource assessment:
1. Overview of the District – prepare an overview of the district and its features, this includes current conditions and trends.
Stakeholders participate by answering the following questions:
- What are natural resource issues facing you or your organization?
- What types of future plans are you or your organization presently making in response to the issues identified?
- In your view, what are the trends that will impact resource management during the next five years?
- Given your thoughts on emerging issues and trends, what changes should the conservation district plan in the next five years?
- How effective is the conservation district in meeting or addressing existing needs of the community?
- Are you aware of areas that require attention on the part of the conservation district?
2. Public Outreach
Meetings – if more than recommended broad conservation goals, plan for more than one meeting.
Focus Groups - provides detailed information, select a group to represent the diversity of the community, groups may need a trained facilitator.
Media invitations – direct mailing, media announcements, newsletters and posters. Coordinate with other group meetings or take advantage of mailing lists from local Extension office, FSA office, irrigation companies, etc.
Devote the bulk of the time to natural resource and dominant land use issues (existing conditions and setting priorities). Involve assistants to record comments on flip charts or assist small groups. Provide technical experts to answer questions. Provide materials, such as maps or a slide show, to illustrate existing natural resource conditions. Large groups may be divided into smaller focus groups.
Once all the input is recorded, the facilitator should work with participants to help rank priorities. Before the meeting is over, participants need to discuss what districts will do with their comments.
3. Compile results
Using a format that will be useful to your conservation district, compile results and add this to the resource library.
4. Identify and describe the problems
From the public outreach process will emerge a list of resources with problems or concerns, such as soil, forest, wildlife, water, etc. Describe each of these resources separately and explain the issues.
5. Prioritize problems
Explain what the most critical issues are and prioritize them from the most important to the least important. Prepare the list of prioritized problems. This will be the heart of the resource assessment.
6. Prepare assessment and follow up
The conservation district board should approve the final assessment. Print enough copies to distribute. For example, a copy could be sent to local government leaders. Keep participants informed with at least one follow-mailing.
Once the resource assessment is done, it will be used in the future for the district strategic plan and the district annual plan of work.