• watershed councils;
  • social organization;
  • environmental assessment;
  • environmental restoration

ABSTRACT: Oregon watershed council leaders, members, and government supporters are working to improve watershed health. To identify the institutional assets that are most helpful in taking action, we assemble the lessons learned from several synthesis studies. The institutional assets fall into seven categories — leadership, vision, trust, social networks, capital, power, and local and technical knowledge. Scientific knowledge, leadership, vision, and social networks are the assets most widely recognized and available. Power, trust, and capital are challenges that must be met for actions to be successful. Most people affected by watershed council actions can appeal to more powerful interests to get these actions changed. Trust, particularly of scientific recommendations and government, is lacking. This distrust limits opportunities for watershed council actions.