There are numerous reasons why a local environmental advisory board or committee is a good idea. Here are 10:
Assist local government officials in planning, organizing, and evaluating their local environmental services and programs, and help solve operational problems or review new environmental impacts or activity, either in the existing work plan or as requested by elected officials or other authorities.
Help coordinate local government environmental programs with other environmental programs, services, companies, or organizations within the community.
Provide opportunities for citizens affected by environmental services or regulations to take a role in forming local environmental services or programs; establish two-way communication, furnishing citizens an opportunity to serve as “community eyes and ears,” and facilitate direct interaction of environmental staff with citizens in a non-enforcement context.
Serve as a stabilizing body for the local officials who administer environmental programs in the community.
Help secure resources for environmental health and safety purposes that might not otherwise be appropriated.
Act as a sounding board for major changes to local environmental policy under possible review or consideration by elected officials and ensure continuity in environmental programs during periods of transition in political leadership or environmental support staff.
Provide leadership for enhancing or extending existing environmental programs to better serve the health interests of citizens. (In environmental quality and protection, there is typically a need to balance economic development and environmental resource protection, and to recognize that there is a symbiotic relationship between these two important goals.)
Provide a forum for officials responsible for environmental programs to promote their services.
Encourage thorough discussion and review, using guest speakers or specialists, and otherwise seek to inform staff members of ways to ensure environmental program success.
Take advantage of group thinking processes and teamwork in reaching advisory decisions about problems, proposals, and situations confronting the community.
Adapted from Alan Kahler, et al. Methods in Adult Education. Danville: Interstate, 1985.