Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Fall 2015

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Lisa Dilling

Second Advisor

Mark Squillace

Third Advisor

Dale Miller


This is a case study of a public lands management conflict in the Thompson Divide Region of White River National Forest, Colorado. To create an empirical database, I use literature review, semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders, and topic coding of written comments from an Environmental Impact Statement. I organize this data through an applied problem orientation framework, and then evaluate a Forest Service public engagement process within the context of the Civic Republican Ideal, a conceptual legal framework focused on guiding public engagement processes. I then present policy alternatives and recommendations aimed at ensuring a continued public interest management scenario, structured for both bottom up and top down policy processes. I argue that improving federal regulatory agency processes to better engage and reflect public interests may be the best way to manage the Thompson Divide in the long term, and propose that the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management implement an adaptive management framework to continue to conserve environmental assets in the region.