Since early October our environmental outreach team has been on the road, conducting 22 public meetings for four clients, and traveling more than 5,000 miles in California, Nevada and Arizona. With all the moving parts, there were bound to be a few adventures along the way. And while we can’t control cows, horses and deer on the road, we do know solid public meeting planning takes months to complete – and that we can help steer!
U.S. Navy – Fallon Range Training Complex Modernization – K&A held seven public meetings in five days, driving over 1,000 miles in central Nevada for the U.S. Navy’s proposed expansion of the Fallon Range Training Complex. It’s an important training complex for naval aviators and special operations forces. The meetings drew in larger than expected crowds, but as K&A Environmental Director Tania Fragomeno says, “You just have to plan for the unexpected; bring along what you think you don’t need and prepare for questions that might not be asked. Part of putting on successful public meetings is preparing the team to speak confidently about the project.”
Just a few weeks later, K&A was off to the high desert of California, while other K&A team members were simultaneously off to Arizona, to conduct public meetings for the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, respectively. The Twentynine Palms project focused on the Marine Corps’ proposed plan for relocating desert tortoises from training areas. Project managers Natalia Hentschel and Shannon Slaughter agree that anytime you can bring a good visual to the meeting, it’s a plus, to make the meeting more interactive and appeal to hands-on learners. For this project, two very special team members joined the series of meetings – Thelma and Louise. These rescued female Agassiz’s desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) served as “project ambassadors” for the meetings, promoting the Marine Corps’ commitment to being good stewards of the environment.
Switching gears to power plants and coal mines, project manager Emily Michaelson had her hands full planning 11 public meetings for the Bureau of Reclamation. Most of these meetings for the Navajo Generating Station and Kayenta Mine were held on the Navajo and Hopi reservations. The remote locations posed numerous logistical challenges – everything from multiple time zones within a region to a lack of phone reception or Internet access in areas where we needed to contact hotels, venues and vendors. “In cases like this,” says Emily, “always have a backup plan in place and allow plenty of time to coordinate logistics. This will help ensure your meetings go off without a hitch.”
Closer to home, the City of San Diego’s DeAnza Cove Revitalization Plan project drew more than 600 people to Mission Bay Senior High School. This third workshop unveiled draft concept alternatives for revitalizing the De Anza Cove area of Mission Bay Park. Many San Diegans care about the future of this regional park and their input on the draft concepts is vital to the project’s success. For this reason, designing a workshop that allows all participants to access the information they need in an organized and comfortable manner in order to provide valuable feedback is critical. With a record turnout in the hundreds, project manager, Natalia Hentschel and the K&A team had to get creative with space. Every available area in the school, from the auditorium for a presentation to the cafeteria and courtyard for the Open House were used to accommodate the attendees and create an effective meeting environment.