Major Research Initiatives
A series of studies on techniques of communication in natural resources
will be conducted, with the end goal of matching techniques to varying
and diverse publics. Communication networks, information needs,
and interpretation and environmental education services will be
examined in order to understand their operation and the implications
for agency-public communication.
Studies Related to this Topic:
This study examined the effectiveness of normative messages in reducing
off-trail use. The study was based on the focus theory of normative
conduct, which states that norms influence behavior when they are
salient to an individual. It was a follow-up to a series of studies
conducted in collaboration with Bob Cialdini and colleagues at Arizona
State University. In this study the impact of the framing of normative
messages was examined through signs posted along trails in Sequoia
and Kings Canyon National Parks. Messages were aimed at encouraging
visitors to stay on the established trails.
This study looked at five off-highway vehicle (OHV) communication
and education programs that provide educational programs and messages
designed to affect OHV drivers' environmental ethics and behaviors.
The study was conducted by Dale Blahna, Doug Reiter and Angie Cannon
of Utah State University and Jim Absher of the PSW Station.
Recreationists visiting National Forest lands are more likely to be
White than any other ethnic or racial group. There are a number of
reasons for this disparity in use levels, including a lack of information
about outdoor recreational opportunities. This study examined the
use of various forms of media, including sources most used and most
trusted for information regarding natural resource opportunities from
a sample of residents in the Los Angeles basin.
An annotated bibliography focusing on environmental risk communication
was recently completed through cooperative agreement between Decision
Research (a non-profit research institute based in Eugene, Oregon)
and PSW. Authored by Joseph Arvai, Robyn Wilson, Louis Rivers and
Ann Froschauer, the document summarizes 153 citations from the literatures
on risk research, stakeholder involvement, decision science and risk
This research evaluated the comprehension of International Symbols
(graphical symbols depicting ideas without words) on the Gifford Pinchot
National Forest (GPNF) in Washington State. Thirteen of the 20 symbols
in the study were considered well-understood, that is, these need
no further management action. Two moderately understood symbols probably
need modification to clarify the intended message. The misunderstood
symbols may require major modification or discontinued use on the
This report was on interpretation effectiveness at Taylor Creek Visitor
Center (TCVC), Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. The objectives included
socio-demographic characteristics, an assessment of interpretive needs,
preferences and expectations, and measures of sign use and visitor
satisfaction. The data were analyzed to evaluate the overall effectiveness
of two separate interpretive trails (Smokey's and Rainbow), the Information
Building, and the Stream Profile Chamber.
The goal of this research was to evaluate the comprehension of International
Symbols (graphical symbols depicting ideas without words) used at
day-use sites on two southern California National Forests. International
Symbols selected included those from the usual available sources as
well as seven Forest-produced symbols. Only 11 of the 20 symbols in
the study were considered well-understood, three were moderately understood,
and six were misunderstood.
The study focus was on program effectiveness and use of information
services at Giant Sequoia and Black Bear Campground. The data also
suggest that the managers may be able to use information sources,
including campground programs, maps, signs, web sites, and nature
trails to increase visitor knowledge and appreciation of how forest
management can improve the health of Giant Sequoia groves.