EPA Science Inventory

What Do They Want to Know? Public Input on Stream Monitoring

Citation:

Weber, M. AND P. Ringold. What Do They Want to Know? Public Input on Stream Monitoring. Presented at 19th International Symposium on Society and Resource Management, Estes Park, CO, June 04 - 08, 2013.

Description:

The goal of environmental monitoring is to track resource condition, and thereby support environmental knowledge and management. Judgments are inevitable during monitoring design regarding what resource features will be assessed. Constraining what to measure in a complex environment is a crucial question since it delimits the analysis capacity of the resulting data. Difficult monitoring design choices are often left to natural scientists, yet public resources are managed for diverse public interests. Thus, it would seem imperative that more parties be represented in design decisions. With a focus on rivers, we use qualitative methods to gather public input on what data is important to collect. Our goal is to establish river themes and metrics of high relevance to the public in order to contribute to a stronger basis for river management. Focus group and individual interview results were conducted in two study locations, one in Southern Arizona and one in Western Oregon, totaling nearly two hundred participants of diverse sociodemographic and geographic backgrounds. An overview of stream monitoring interests, including differences between subsets of participant will be presented. An unexpected result was recurring cognitive challenges participants encountered while specifying preferred river features, which tailored moderation strategies helped mitigate. Last, a comparison will be made between public input and existing US EPA national stream monitoring protocols.

Purpose/Objective:

This research seeks to inform river monitoring by deliberate collection of public input, leading to the construction of river accounting systems for potential use in management contexts. Typically monitoring decisions are made by experts such as natural scientists rather than the public, although many rivers are public resources. The data collection is purposefully directed towards members of the general public rather than high-profile stakeholders to promote representation of popular interests. We utilize qualitative data analysis techniques to document participants’ specific desires and thought processes regarding river management. The results highlight recurrent themes across participants, and where perspectives converge or diverge. Differences and similarities across public input from fieldwork in two different geographies, Arizona and Oregon, allows us to begin to scale up to national scale monitoring design insights.

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (PRESENTATION/ABSTRACT)
Completion Date: 06/10/2013
Record Last Revised: 06/10/2013
Record Created: 06/10/2013
Record Released: 06/10/2013
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 256512

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LAB

WESTERN ECOLOGY DIVISION

FRESHWATER ECOLOGY BRANCH