Date: Fri, 22 Nov 2002 06:22:23 -0800
Sender: Georgia Birders Online <GABO-L@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
From: andy young <modius@EARTHLINK.NET>
Subject: dnr public involvement task force
i am forwarding this information to the list because of the opportunity it
affords us all.
the dnr has opened a public comment period as a result of recommendations made
by a public involvement task force. recommendations to the state include a
move toward a more open process of public participation in government
i encourage you to read the information provided below and if your interested
in learning more and check out the link to see how you can participate in this
Last year, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) formed a Public
Involvement Task Force — a panel chartered with an eye toward giving citizens
a greater stake in, and greater access to, agency decisions. The task force
spent a year talking with government officials and members of key ‘stakeholder
groups’ — corporations, industry groups, and organizations within the
environmentalist community — in order to find common ground on the
shortcomings of current procedures for public participation in agency
deliberations, and on ideas that could result in improvements that provide
better results for concerned citizens and state government.
At the beginning of October, when the task force had completed its work, it
issued an 11-page report with an outline of its recommendations. Judging by
the report, the task force made a thorough effort to invent a better concept
of public participation for Georgia, and worked in good faith to provide
citizens with more meaningful access to government.
For instance, the panel recommended a change that, though it sounds
startlingly straightforward, could have immense effects: allowing members of
the public who attend public meetings to ask questions of their own. By
expanding conversation and argument over agency decisions to include new
voices from communities that might otherwise go unconsulted, this step would
not only give the public a greater sense of ownership in government, but also
help the DNR hear fresh perspectives that could enable it to make better
The task force made other recommendations in that same spirit of good faith.
To encourage more people to take part in the regulatory process, the panel
proposed lessening the financial burden on citizens by reducing the cost of
copying public documents. The task force also recommended the development of a
guidebook designed to walk those new to public participation, or intimidated
by government, through the process of getting more involved.
Of course, every set of recommendations can be improved on, and these were no
exception. To name one example, people interested in greater public
participation at the DNR could feel more confident about the benefits of these
proposals if they knew that the agency would, in a timely manner, put them
into effect. Right now, the recommendations sound good, but have no deadline
for implementation; without one, the work of the task force could well go to
waste. Another shortcoming: the DNR needs personnel to coordinate the agency’s
efforts to open itself to greater public participation. Without eyes and ears
to monitor and shepherd the countless decisions and offices that make up the
department, the risk exists that the task force’s well-intentioned efforts
could die from confusion or inattention.
These task force recommendations are worthwhile proposals, though, and well
worth supporting. With the suggestion of some improvements, the DNR can make a
great step toward giving Georgia citizens a more meaningful role to play in
government stewardship of the state’s natural treasures.
for more information and to find out what you can do to help visit:
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