Integrating Models of Citizens Perceptions, Metal Contaminants, and Wetlands Restoration in an Urbanizing Watershed

EPA Grant Number: R827288
Title: Integrating Models of Citizens Perceptions, Metal Contaminants, and Wetlands Restoration in an Urbanizing Watershed
Investigators: Tucker, Robert K. , Hawkins, George S. , Jaffe, Peter R. , Johnson, Branden B. , PFlugh, Kerry K.
Current Investigators: Tucker, Robert K. , Altomari, Chris , Choi, Jung H. , Hajdusek, Julie , Hawkins, George S. , Jaffe, Peter R. , Johnson, Branden B. , MacKay, Noelle , PFlugh, Kerry K. , Rowan, Andrew , Sankalia, Pria , Yergeau, Steve
Institution: Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association , Princeton University , Rutgers University - New Brunswick
EPA Project Officer: Hiscock, Michael
Project Period: March 15, 1999 through March 14, 2002
Project Amount: $749,954
RFA: Water and Watersheds (1998) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Water , Water and Watersheds


Watershed maintenance and restoration are critically dependent on public understanding and support for the vital role wetlands play in water quality and ecological integrity of watersheds. Wetlands play a vital part in sequestering toxic metals, thus inhibiting non-point runoff to surface waters. We propose an integrated systems perspective, studying the environmental quality perceptions of citizens with competing land-use interests, interactions of municipal policy, volunteer watershed restoration efforts, wetland plant community composition and trace metal behavior. We intend to link an ecological model of metal behavior influenced by redox conditions in wetlands soils, as affected by plant species composition, with a sociological study of citizen perceptions of ecological quality. We will investigate how such perceptions may change with benefit of information from the wetlands/metals research.


Using the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association's GIS data base to identify wetland study areas in sub-watersheds, we will carry out further land-use characterization, especially for conditions influencing trace metal non-point sources. Using accepted sociological sampling and analytical techniques, we will interview stakeholders representing a range of land-use interests, in the sub-watersheds, to gain information regarding their ecological quality perceptions. After carrying out detailed sampling, analysis and model development for metal-plant interactions in selected wetland areas, and providing information in an educational campaign to watershed residents, we will ascertain whether such scientific information changes citizen perceptions, increasing understanding and support for wetlands protection and watershed restoration.

Expected Results:

This research will provide a fundamental insight into processes regulating the dynamics of metals in wetlands as well as information about how citizens understand the role of wetlands and support their restoration. These insights will be incorporated into models that will allow for the assessment of wetlands in the protection of surface-water quality. This approach relates the natural science model within discussions of land use policy and wetland remediation efforts in the study area. The results of this combined social and natural science research will be made available to environmental activists and policy makers in the study area and elsewhere.

Improvements in Risk Assessment and Risk Management: The results will provide detailed information for understanding metal-plant interactions in wetlands, providing insight into controlling non-point source run-off. Information on particular plant communities will be invaluable for managing the restoration or creation of wetlands. A better understanding of citizen attitudes toward, support for, and willingness to be directly involved in restoration activities or in the political arena in support of protective land-use decisions will also be of particular benefit for risk management.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 34 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Non-point metal contamination; redox conditions in wetland soils; wetlands protection; citizen involvement in watershed protection; land use decisions; linking ecological models., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Water, ECOSYSTEMS, Water & Watershed, Ecology, Environmental Chemistry, Wet Weather Flows, Terrestrial Ecosystems, Ecological Risk Assessment, Watersheds, Social Science, fate and transport, transport containment, municipal policy, wetlands, human activities, ecosystem evaluation, man-made wetlands, runoff, wetlands restoration, community based, surface water, citizen perceptions, urban development, wetland restoration, urbanizing watersheds, GIS, non-point sources, water quality, outreach and education, public policy, stakeholders, active control, land management

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1999 Progress Report
  • 2000 Progress Report
  • Final Report