Recreation: Behaviors and Conflict
Major Research Initiatives
Southwesterners' Opinions on Threatened and Endangered Species Management
The management of habitat for threatened and endangered species continues to be a primary task for large natural resource management agencies, including the Forest Service. Opinions and preferences for threatened and endangered species management on forest lands, with a specific focus on recreation-related interventions, were gathered from residents of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. Telephone interviews were completed with 1,807 residents.
The majority of respondents had visited a national forest in their state (81.4%) and more than half engaged in some form of outdoor recreation at least on a monthly basis. Respondents shared a strong concern for threatened and endangered species, though less than one-third rated themselves as knowledgeable about species in their state.
Among three general opinion statements about threatened and endangered species, about half of the respondents selected "we probably have to let some species go, we cannot save them all" as best representing their opinion. About another third selected "we must preserve all species regardless of cost," while slightly more than one-tenth chose "economic growth and human concerns must come first."
The majority viewed the negative impact of recreational activities on species as relatively insignificant compared to other uses of forest lands such as grazing and mining. Among a series of management interventions designed to address species and habitat protection, signs and closure of some picnic or campsites were most approved of, while closures, signs, and banning mechanically based uses were viewed as effective by the majority.
Most trusted the Forest Service's efforts to address threatened and endangered species problems, and viewed their own values, goals and views regarding species management as similar. However, geographic variations were significant, with Californians' giving the highest ratings on each of these items, and residents of New Mexico giving the lowest ratings. These differences are of great interest given the impact of trust on proposed and actual management actions, as well as communication and education efforts.
The shared concern about threatened and endangered species, paired with conservative ratings of knowledge suggests that an opportunity for education exists. Efforts should be tailored to the specific information needs and interests of publics, as well as their levels of trust or distrust in the agency.
Publications and Products related to this subject:
Winter, P.L.; Cvetkovich, G.T. 2003. Southwesterners' opinions on the management of threatened and endangered species. Unpublished report. Riverside, CA: Pacific Southwest Research Station, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. 101 p.
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