Although widely promoted, the importance of science as the basis of natural resources policy-making has proven difficult to both implement and evaluate compared to the many other inputs to creating public policy. Our goals were to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders in Michigan and develop means to create a dialogue on the use of water science in policy-making and to address the disconnect between the science and water policy at the state and regional levels. To achieve these goals, we developed a series of workshops and facilitated discussions to encourage active, productive discussion with a group of 35 Water Resource Fellows (Fellows). The discussions examined the role of science in Michigan water policy. The Fellows were representatives from academia, local governments, state agencies, environmental groups, industry, agriculture, and business. We surveyed the Fellows about their views on the role of science and water issues in Michigan. Nearly half (45%) of the Fellows stated that not enough science is currently being used in water policy decisions. Several themes emerged from the facilitated discussions. The Fellows recommended a recursive decision-making approach to using science in policy making. The Fellows also expressed the need for science to be accessible, relevant to the policy community, and communicated to regulators and the general public on an ongoing basis. The workshop series process for encouraging discussion among stakeholders can be used in other collaborative decision-making efforts.
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