This issue of the Sound Update is about public involvement in the Long Island Sound Study, most directly through our Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC). Often touted as a way to make government more responsive to the public will, citizen involvement is a vital part of many government institutions (think of the local school PTA) and our democracy. It can also be a source of frustration (think of the local school PTA) without clearly defined objectives and open, two-way communication. Public involvement doesn’t work if agencies see it solely as an opportunity to educate citizens, or if citizens see it as forum to make demands or crowd out other points of view.
The use of formal, structured citizen involvement in environmental decision making has expanded as the issues have become more complex. The Long Island Sound Study created a CAC in 1987 to provide counsel on the priority issues facing the Sound and the action plan being developed to address them. The CAC was a vocal and active participant in the writing of the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) for the Sound, and an advocate for specific targets and time frames for actions. With the approval of the CCMP in 1994, the CAC shifted emphasis to being a watchdog on implementation and advocate for funding. An integral part of the Long Island Sound Study, the CAC also promotes public awareness and understanding of the programs issues and goals.
To view the full Summer 2003 newsletter, download the pdf document