Document Type

Capstone Project

Publication Date



Natural Resource Management, Governance, Community Engagement, Flexibility, Rural Development, Philanthropy


Natural resource management (NRM) involves a multitude of levels and interests. Options for sustainable management must involve all stakeholders and balance levels of decision-makers, whether local, regional, or national. No one-size-fits-all approach applies to NRM; instead, co-management of resources and multi-stakeholder collaborations assist in achieving sustainable solutions, given the multiple interest groups involved in the commons. Through good governance, flexibility to change, and community engagement efforts, NRM has a better chance for success and sustainability.

Clearly, natural resources cross governmental boundaries and jurisdictions, and NRM strategies must compensate for this dynamic. The region of West Michigan contains a wealth of natural resources, from rivers and lakes to farmland and forests. Taking advantage of these resources through agriculture and tourism value chains may spur economic development while also providing for sustainable management.

Key stakeholders provided specific recommendations for preservation and promotion of natural resources which could fit into philanthropic strategies. They also pointed out Newaygo County’s major natural resource assets. Gaining insights about where protection is needed most and where promotion has the greatest potential can help target philanthropic investments.

Newaygo County’s natural resources have the potential for improving local livelihoods and raising people out of poverty. Many other foundations and organizations are focused on these crossovers, between environment and economy, and environment and equity. Lessons can be taken for Newaygo County’s context in order to achieve triple bottom line impact.