Breath of Clarity

Critical Insights on “stove pipe” Natural Resource Management

Climate change would challenge the institutional landscape by instigating a change from stove-pipe management to ecosystem management. Agencies are no longer going to be only collaborating based upon a common superior. For example, the Bureau of Indian Affairs may need to support the U.S. Forest Service in understanding how to prohibit forest fires as the former may have knowledge specialized to a given location or can offer a management strategy that has been successfully, independently implemented for generations. Even though the former falls under the U.S. Department of the Interior and the latter falls under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the two may be forced to collaborate due to catastrophic circumstances in the face of climate change. Also, there is going to be a need for collaboration amongst seemingly unrelated departments that do not manage the same key natural resource. For example, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is going to be providing scientific data about the rising sea levels to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement who has the power to minimize land leases to oil and gas companies interested in extraction of fossil fuels. NOAA cannot do its job in terms of preserving the health of oceans which regulate the Earth’s temperature if excessive greenhouse gas emissions are filling the atmosphere. Cross-sectoral issues such as this will make it so the institutional landscape is not separated by oversight organizations or resource type, but rather the institutional landscape is more so a significantly intertwined web in which all natural resource managers collaborate as the success of one department determine the whole’s well-being. That said, the community aspect of ecosystem is going to be emphasized. From there, the public is going to have a greater role in tackling climate change.

Our Piktochart group focused on demonstrating the need for natural resource management agencies to help educate and provide tools to increase civic engagement in climate change action. Today, brands and organizations focus on marketing to their target audience to reach a desired result, whether that be donations, purchases, etc. Those brands with effective communication and PR to their target audience tend to be successful. However, as the issue of climate change becomes even more severe, the desired result between organizations is going to become increasingly more common as it is going to simply be- save the planet. There is going to be an urgent call to address the communication gap between agencies and the public. Natural resource management agencies are going to need to market information so it is not only accessed by those who are visiting government websites and looking for statistics. That said, insofar as natural resource management agencies ought to cultivate attention on social media since it is how people acquire information. According to a newly published Pew Research Center report 55% of U.S. adults now get their news from social media either “often” or “sometimes” (Suciu, 2019). Considering there is misinformation all over the internet, specifically when it comes to environmental causes such as climate change, it is crucial for natural resource management agencies to have a big presence on social media and ensure people are getting accurate and reliable information.


Suciu, Peter. 2019. “More Americans Are Getting Their News From Social Media”. Forbes. Accessed 23 January 2021.

Comment by Bridget Clayton:

A resource that I found was from the Interagency Ecosystem Management Task Force, and stovepipe implementation issues were found within various ecosystem management departments, including the EPA and the USDA. The Task Force’s suggestion was to adopt a more collaborative adaptive management strategy including cooperation between departments and the best available science informed by past decision making (The Interagency Ecosystem Management Task Force 1995). Also, I have experienced the stovepipe method a bit in the field when working with the Student Conservation Association. We worked in a couple of parks along a bayou near downtown Houston, and some lands were regulated by the city and some the county. At the second park I worked in, Houston Parks and Rec. only had access to a portion of the forested area we were working in, so instead of being able to get appropriate machinery out to our location using the main trail, we could not drive anything out onto the trail and had to haul our trees back to the front of the park by hand. It was incredibly inconvenient and tiring.

The Ecosystem Approach: Implementation Issues. Vol. 2. Washington, D.C.: The Interagency Ecosystem Management Task Force, 1995.

My Reply:
Hi Bridget,

Thanks for the resource! Particularly, in locations such as coastal Louisiana, for example, where grassroots efforts produced large federal programs, the public expected to have a larger hand in the process (The Interagency Ecosystem Management Task Force 1995). According to interviewees at some of the sites, no attempt was made to develop an overall vision for the area with the public before federal agencies started to plan projects (The Interagency Ecosystem Management Task Force 1995). Authors went on to say more flexibility and less rigidity are needed in the planning processes if agencies are truly aiming to collaborate with states and communities (The Interagency Ecosystem Management Task Force 1995). According to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), agencies must provide opportunities for public comment at the scoping stages of a project, and at preparation stages for draft and final environmental impact statements (The Interagency Ecosystem Management Task Force 1995). This support could include bringing stakeholders together to develop a shared vision for an ecosystem, recognizing problems as shared problems, engaging in joint data collection and analysis, and arriving at creative and innovative solutions (The Interagency Ecosystem Management Task Force 1995). The Act could be used proactively to improve interagency coordination and nonfederal involvement as a framework for planning under the ecosystem approach. The story from working with the Student Conservation Association illustrates the failure to adopt ecosystem management leads to inefficient processes because all possible conservation tools are not being utilized.


The Ecosystem Approach: Implementation Issues. Vol. 2. Washington, D.C.: The Interagency Ecosystem Management Task Force, 1995.

Comment by Kelly Mcllhatten:

I really enjoyed your post and I thought you brought up some really great points about natural resource management agencies using education, branding, and social media to help address the issue of climate change. While Americans have become increasingly aware of climate change, the average person’s comprehension of the problem of climate change has grown relatively slowly (Rabe 2010). Climate change remains “the toughest, most intractable political issue we, as a society have ever faced” (Kamarck 2019). Over the last two decades, the percentage of the population that thinks the seriousness of global warming is generally exaggerated has increased, and there are still portions of the population, including certain government officials, who either think climate change is a hoax, or believe climate change is happening but it is not caused by anthropogenic activities (Kamarck 2019). Karmarck (2019) provides 4 categories of reasons why there is a lack of intensity around climate change action: complexity, jurisdiction and accountability, collective action and trust, and imagination. Reading your post, I saw a role for natural resource management agencies in each, but especially in dealing with complexity and imagination. Karmarck (2019) explains that, unlike earlier environmental problems (such as dirty air or polluted water), its is harder to see the connection between cause and effect with climate change. In order to help bridge this gap, there is a greater need for scientific literacy (Karmarck 2019). The tools you described in your post could be leveraged by natural resource management agencies to help bridge the gap and increase scientific literacy around climate change. While they already do this, a broader, coordinated campaign among a variety of agencies and departments could help to spread the message and increase scientific literacy. Additionally, Karmarck (2019) proposes that one reason that “the political salience of climate change seems so out of step with the physical proof and urgency of the issue” is because there is a lack of imagination and story-telling around climate change. While this seems somewhat out of the normal scope of some agencies, by using social media and branding, these agencies could become storytellers, telling the story of climate change and its effects on the environment and human population. This could particularly resonate with younger generations.


Kamarck, Elaine. 2019. “The Challenging Politics of Climate Change.” Brookings. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..

Rabe, Barry G. “Introduction: The Challenge of U.S. Climate Governance.” In Green Governance: Addressing Climate Change in America, edited by Barry G. Rabe, pp 260-285. Washington D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 2010.