Publication Title

Society and Natural Resources

Document Type


Department or Program

Environmental Studies

Publication Date



Agriculture, collaboration, communication, conservation, evaluation, partnership, social science, stakeholders, watershed


© 2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. The Saginaw Bay Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) in Michigan is an innovative conservation effort organized to address water quality impairments involving a unique collaboration between conservation organizations, agronomists, universities, commodity groups, and agribusinesses. We track the evolution and adaptation of the Saginaw Bay RCPP, and the collaboration among the traditional and nontraditional conservation partners. Our reflections are organized around three key lessons: vertical and horizontal communication challenges; contextual and structural constraints; barriers that remain between private and public sector entities for this and alternative conservation-delivery models. Lessons from this evaluation will inform the design of future collaborative/multi-stakeholder watershed management efforts. We also demonstrate that rather than being used as an ad-hoc approach, social science evaluation was integrated into conservation planning and practice, hence increasing the salience and legitimacy of the conservation social science in collaborative watershed management.