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Keywords:

  • decision making;
  • objectives;
  • tradeoffs;
  • alternatives;
  • environmental management;
  • resource managers

ABSTRACT: This paper outlines a sound, practical approach for making more informed decisions about environmental policy choices. It emphasizes the importance of using a structured decision process to specify and organize values, use these values to create alternatives, and assess tradeoffs to help achieve a desired balance across key objectives. Although these decision making steps are based on common sense, they are often neglected or poorly carried out as part of the complex evaluations of natural resource options. We discuss several reasons for this frequent neglect of decision making principles and provide examples from recent water use planning projects to demonstrate some of the benefits of using a structured, decision focused approach: new and better solutions, increased and more productive participation by stakeholders, and greater defensibility and acceptance of the resource management evaluation process and its conclusions.