Michael Harstone MA 1999

Current Work:  Principal, Compass Resource Management, private consulting                                                   

I am a Principal at Compass Resource Management (a small consulting firm based in Vancouver) where I work as a decision analyst, environmental planner, and facilitator on natural resources management and planning initiatives. In my work, I am a practitioner, trainer and researcher in Structured Decision Making which typically involves complex multiparty resource management decision and plans. Many of the projects I’m involved with include carrying out environmental, socio-economic, and cultural impact assessments and dealing with the integration of traditional knowledge into (science-based) resource decisions and plans. I was also a contributing author of the book "Structured Decision Making: A Practical Guide to Environmental Management Choices" and am an instructor delivering training workshops to government agencies and community organizations.

Some of my most memorable and challenging projects have been; 

  • BC Hydro's Water Use Planning - designed and facilitated numerous planning processes (these processes were considered a model of excellence and received numerous planning awards / acknowledgements);
  • Modernization of BC's Water Act - structured and provided advice on possible legislative, regulatory, and policy changes related to how water resources are managed and allocated in the province. The new Act received Royal Assent in 2014;
  • Missouri River Recovery Management Plan – providing ongoing technical support and leading the formal trade-off analysis of a 70 member government and stakeholder committee with representatives from 8 State government, 15 federal agencies, 18 American Indian Tribes, and with stakeholders representing 16 NGOs.
  • Peace Northern Caribou Committee - designed and facilitated a community based regional caribou recovery initiative in the southern Peace Region.
  • Mackenzie River Basin Transboundary Water Management Agreements - provided planning advice and facilitated the negotiation of a bilateral agreement between the governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan on the management of water resources in the Mackenzie River Basin. 

My time at SCARP was really transformative and greatly influenced the direction of my career. I entered the program in 1997 thinking that I wanted to focus on food security and the protection of intellectual property rights of indigenous farming communities in developing countries. However, once I was exposed to the breadth of possible planning careers, I was challenged to rethink where my priorities really lie. This led me towards community-based watershed management. I love my career and cannot imagine what else I would be doing if it had not been for the professors, planners and students who shared their ideas and gave me insight during my time at SCARP.