Document Type


Publication Date



Group decision making, Public policy -- Citizen participation, Public policy -- Decision making, Local government -- Citizen participation, Political participation -- Case studies, High Desert (Or.), Harney County (Or.)


The people of Harney County, Oregon, have a story to tell about healing decades of conflict and coming together to ensure their community survives and thrives. Harney County, located in the southeast corner of the state, is the largest and one of the least populated of Oregon’s counties. It is a place of wide open spaces, with sagebrush deserts, rich wetlands, expansive alkali flats, stark mountains, and stately ponderosa pine forests. The economy relies heavily on the land for farming, ranching, and forestry. Yet the majority of Harney’s land is publicly owned. Historically, that was a recipe for heated disagreements around public land management, private land use, and environmental preservation.

A few visionary thinkers in Harney County saw a way around the conflict by bringing community members, government, and environmental groups together to help them discover they had more in common than they had that divided them. What developed was a community-wide commitment to working together to make Harney County better.

The High Desert Partnership (HDP) formed to support a wide range of local collaborative projects from managing wetlands to improving opportunities for youth. This guide shares the HDP’s formula for getting things done. Their hope is that other communities that are ready to create a lasting approach to tackling tough issues will benefit from what Harney County has learned.


© 2019 National Policy Consensus Center All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner without the written permission of the author, except by the High Desert Partnership and The Ford Family Foundation.

Persistent Identifier