Natural Resources Leadership Institute

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Current & Recent Projects

The NC Ecological Flows Science Advisory Board (EFSAB)

The North Carolina General Assembly enacted legislation in 2010 directing tefsab enoriverhe Department of
Environment and Natural Resources and its Division of Water Resources to develop hydrologic models for each of the 17 major river basins in N.C.   An important part of SL 2010-143, requires the department to determine the flows needed to maintain ecological integrity in surface waters.  

The bill further authorized the creation of a Science Advisory Board to assist the department in assessing these ecological flows. The members of the Ecological Flows Science Advisory Board all have a strong background in aquatic ecology and represent a diversity of water use interests. In December 2010,
the Water Resources Research Institute at NC State University published an article on the newly formed Ecological Flows Science Advisory Board. All meetings of the Science Advisory Board are open to the public. Please click here for detailed information on the Science Advisory Board and ecological flows.

Evaluating the Chavis Park Community Conversation

The City of Raleigh Parks and Recreation Department has requested an evaluation of their chavis park
new Public Participation Program for Park Planning during a formal application of the program with its Chavis Park project. The Public Participation Program for Parks Planning was developed in concert with local citizens who tirelessly helped shaped the program, the Parks and Recreation staff, and the Natural Resources Leadership Institute.

Chavis Park has a rich history in the City of Raleigh and is a valued community resource. The Raleigh Parks and Recreation Department, with its consultant, Skeo Solutions, is organizing the Chavis Park Community Conversation in order to develop a shared vision for the park’s future. The Community Conversation will engage the public and community leaders as they identify potential improvements to the park, develop mutual understanding and respect of both the history and the future of the park, and the role of the park in the community. The project will result in an adoptable, implementable Revised Master Plan for Chavis Park. Visit the Chavis Park Community Conversation website for updates on that planning process.  You can also register on to receive email updates on the planning process at that site.

Developing a Public Participation Policy for the Raleigh Department of Parks and Recreation
Wildlife Habitat Zone Advisory Team_Horseshoe Farm ParkIn January 2009, the report, Involving the Public in Park Planning, An Evaluation of the City of Raleigh’s Park Master Planning Processes,was presented to City Council.  This report evaluated two different processes that the City of Raleigh Parks and Recreation Department (and other agencies, in similar fashion) have used in the past. The following recommendation was made in the report:

The Parks and Recreation Department should augment its current documentation of master planning process (Resolution (2003)-735) with a comprehensive public involvement policy (see for example: wasteful/parks/Publications/policy/PIP.pdf).

The policy should define the roles and responsibilities of staff positions implementing all the Department’s public participation processes, expand and then define the purposes and circumstances for which public involvement will be used, and outline and define the procedures to be followed. The policy document should also contain a glossary of terms used in park master planning and public involvement generally, and provide consistency of language from process to process. In addition, sufficient flexibility in procedure should be incorporated into the policy so that various and appropriate forums for engagement can be applied to fit the circumstances. Read more...

Involving the Public in Park Planning: An Evaluation of the City of Raleigh's Park Master Planning Process
Forest Ridge Park Final Plan
A Park Master Plan is a conceptual design document that generally describes and guides the future management and development of a park property. Its preparation is intended to be a public process to ensure that the needs of the public are met while preserving the ecological function and environmental quality of the site.

The City of Raleigh contracted with the Natural Resources Leadership Institute to conduct a study of the City's park master planning processes to determine how, to what degree, and to what end citizens participate in decisions regarding the scope and character of future park sites. Read more...


EEP Nutrient Offset Payment Program: Transitioning to an Actual Cost Pricing Method

EEP Mitigation SiteSession Law 2007-438 mandates that the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) develop and implement a plan to transition the N.C. Ecosystem Enhancement Program (EEP) Nutrient Offset Program from a fee-based system to a program based on the actual costs of providing nutrient credits. EEP, in collaboration with the NC Division of Water Quality, convened a group of key stakeholders to discuss the basic approach to setting actual-cost rates for its nutrient offset program. The Natural Resources Leadership Institute is coordinating with EEP to assemble the stakeholder group and guide its deliberations.

The purpose of the stakeholder meetings is to provide a forum for EEP, DWQ and non-agency stakeholders to:

1. Share information and arrive at a common understanding of Ecosystem Enhancement Program planning and operations
2. Share information on the actual cost method proposed by EEP
3. Identify unknowns and uncertainties reflected in the proposed actual cost method
4. Strive toward an agreement on specific components of the actual cost method to be adopted by EEP

Testing the Use of Mediation in Managing User Conflicts in North Carolina Fisheries

Shrimp trawlers at the dock at sunriseThe North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission (NCMFC) is often called upon to manage user conflicts that have little or no bearing on the health of fisheries resources. Conflicts range from simple gear disputes to space, resource allocation, or perceptual issues, and sometimes have historical, cultural, and political roots.  The NCMFC adopted a policy endorsing the use of mediation for appropriate fisheries conflicts in October 2004. This project demonstrated the effectiveness of collaboration between the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries (NCDMF) and two mediation centers – The ADR Center in Wilmington, and the Mediation Center of Eastern Carolina in Greenville – on selected, appropriate disputes. Read more...

Winston-Salem / Forsyth County Tree Ordinance Committee

Winston-Salem, North Carolina skylineAs Forsyth County urbanizes, more and more natural systems and vegetative cover are lost to impervious surfaces such as rooftops, driveways, parking areas,
and streets. Recognizing the tangible benefits that trees provide in the urban environment, citizens of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, North Carolina expressed in interest in preserving trees in their communities. Furthermore, they realized that in order to protect and enhance their valuable tree resources, a tree ordinance was needed to provide the authorization and standards for managing and protecting the forest canopy. The Winston-Salem / Forsyth County Planning Department was tasked to convene a group of stakeholders to work collaboratively toward the development of tree ordinance that can be supported by all interest groups. With a grant from the Winston-Salem Foundation, the Winston-Salem Neighborhood Alliance served as a co-convenor, funding the facilitation of this process. Read more...

Chattooga River Recreational Use

The Chattooga River originates in the mountains of western North CarolinaKaykers on the Chattooga River
and forms a portion of the border between Georgia and South Carolina. Congress designated the 15,432-acre corridor along the upper reaches of the Chattooga as Wild and Scenic in 1974 for its outstandingly remarkable fish, wildlife, recreation, scenic, and historic values.  In its 1976 forest management plan the Sumter National Forest divided the river into five geographically-based management zones, and closed the upper Chattooga to boating above Hwy 28 Bridge. The closure was retained in the 2004 revision of the Forest Management Plan.

In 2005, the USDA Forest Service initiated a visitor use capacity analysis in response to an appeal of the management plan by white water boating advocates. The objective of this project was twofold. The first was to assess the perceptions of river users toward the application of a collaborative approach to developing management decisions governing recreational use of the Chattooga River. The second was to conduct stakeholder workshops for generating and evaluating alternatives for providing recreational use on the river. Read more...

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